CNN’s Costello Focuses on GOP Scandals, Mentions Democrats in Passing

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN correspondent Carol Costello, in a report on Monday’s "The Situation Room," tried to put the Eliot Spitzer scandal into a better light by focusing entirely on past Republican scandals, and only mentioned two examples of Democrats caught in scandal -- Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank -- in passing.

Other than Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Costello brought up Republicans who had been accused of misbehavior by pornographer Larry Flynt. She only mentioned Spitzer at the very beginning of her report, and then immediately went to her first example, Louisiana Senator David Vitter. "Maybe Larry Flynt would say of Eliot Spitzer, there will soon be one less known hypocrite in government. That's how he described Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Flynt accused him of having been a client of the alleged D.C. madam, Deborah Palfrey, after the senator's number was discovered in her phone records."

Costello then turned back the clock ten years, and instead of focusing on Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair, she brought up the Republicans that had been caught by Flynt.

COSTELLO: It was back in 1998 that Flynt launched his first hypocrite hunt and he had some success. Angry at what he called the hypocrisy of Republican efforts to impeach Bill Clinton, Flynt made life miserable for Georgia Congressman Bob Barr. The Hustler publisher cited an affidavit from Barr's wife, saying that in contrast to his public opposition to abortion, he [had] driven her to a clinic for an abortion. A federal court dismissed Barr's lawsuit against Flynt, saying there was nothing to suggest Flynt's accusation was false. Another prominent Republican, former Representative Bob Livingston suffered, too. He was among those calling for President Clinton to resign over the Lewinsky affair, saying apologies were not enough.... Livingston urged a vote to impeach, and just as he was about to become House Speaker, Larry Flynt accused him of infidelity, and Livingston resigned.

Costello then briefly mentioned the more recent Larry Craig scandal. "But other politicians plagued by scandal also survived. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, wife by his side, denied improper contact in a men's restroom at a Minneapolis airport.... And although the Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for conduct that reflected poorly on the Senate, Craig remains on the job, he says, until the end of his term."

It was at the conclusion of her report that Costello brought up Clinton again as an example of a Democrat caught in scandal, as well as Barney Frank, who, as Costello put it, "admitted to a sexual relationship with a male prostitute. He received a reprimand, but he is in office today."

The full transcript of the Costello report, which aired 45 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of Monday’s "The Situation Room:"

WOLF BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the breaking news, our top story that we've been following -- a well-known governor linked to a prostitution ring. Can Eliot Spitzer survive or is this a career-ending scandal?

Carol Costello has been working the story for us as well. So what are you finding out, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well James Carville aside, here's another politician, Wolf, with his wife by his side, apologizing for past sins. This time it's Democrat Eliot Spitzer, a man known for his integrity. Can he survive? Others politicians have, despite the efforts of talkative madams, porn king Larry Flynt, and political opponents.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Maybe Larry Flynt would say of Eliot Spitzer, there will soon be one less known hypocrite in government. That's how he described Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Flynt accused him of having been a client of the alleged D.C. madam, Deborah Palfrey, after the senator's number was discovered in her phone records. Vitter responded, wife by his side, to committing a very serious sin before he became a senator. But he survived.

SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: Unfortunately, my admission has encouraged some long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods too.

COSTELLO: Flynt was hoping more scandal would follow. He released this philanderer wanted ad, looking for documented evidence of elicit sexual relations among public figures. It was back in 1998 that Flynt launched his first hypocrite hunt and he had some success.

Angry at what he called the hypocrisy of Republican efforts to impeach Bill Clinton, Flynt made life miserable for Georgia Congressman Bob Barr. The Hustler publisher cited an affidavit from Barr's wife, saying that in contrast to his public opposition to abortion, he [had] driven her to a clinic for an abortion. A federal court dismissed Barr's lawsuit against Flynt, saying there was nothing to suggest Flynt's accusation was false.

Another prominent Republican, former Representative Bob Livingston suffered, too. He was among those calling for President Clinton to resign over the Lewinsky affair, saying apologies were not enough.

BOB LIVINGSTON (R), FORMER LOUISIANA REPRESENTATIVE: The president has his own actions to justify. I will not seek to give him counsel.

COSTELLO: Livingston urged a vote to impeach, and just as he was about to become House Speaker, Larry Flynt accused him of infidelity, and Livingston resigned.

LIVINGSTON: I beg your forgiveness.

COSTELLO: But other politicians plagued by scandal also survived. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, wife by his side, denied improper contact in a men's restroom at a Minneapolis airport.

SEN. LARRY CRAIG, IDAHO: I am not gay. I never have been gay.

COSTELLO: And although the Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for conduct that reflected poorly on the Senate, Craig remains on the job, he says, until the end of his term.

COSTELLO (on-screen): And Larry Craig remains on the job, even though some Republicans have urged him to step down. Other politicians that survived -- Bill Clinton, of course, and Congressman Barney Frank, who admitted to a sexual relationship with a male prostitute. He received a reprimand, but he is in office today. As for Eliot Spitzer, well, Republicans have called for him to resign. We'll see what the Democrats say.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right. A lot more on this story coming up. Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center