ABC Skips Dem Label of Prostitution Enthusiast Eliot Spitzer, NBC Hypes 'Comeback Kid'

The journalists at Good Morning America on Monday offered an assist to liberal politicians trying to avoid being associated with the scandal-plagued former Governor of New York. While announcing Eliot Spitzer's return to public life, news reader Paula Faris avoided any mention of the fact that Spitzer is a Democrat. As she noted his bid to be New York City's comptroller, Faris simply referred to the "disgraced former governor of New York."

Over on NBC's Today, correspondent Kristen Dahlgren hyped Spitzer as "the next comeback kid." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Comparing the ex-governor to Anthony Weiner, Dahlgren enthused, "2013 may go down as the year of the second chance." Despite connecting the two New York Democrats, Dahlgren also skipped any ideological label. It wasn't until the 8am hour that co-host Natalie Morales alerted, "The Democrat stepped down in 2008 over a prostitution scandal."

The NBC program returned to the topic in the 9am and 10am hour, but didn't use the Democrat label again.

Instead, Dahlgren featured Politico's Mike Allen to explain why the future was so bright for Weiner and Spitzer: "Fallen politicians have two things going for them. Americans in general tend to be forgiving. But perhaps even more so, voters have amnesia. In the new digital, crazy world, nothing lasts."

On May 22, NBC insisted that Weiner was the "comeback kid."

CBS This Morning identified Spitzer as a Democrat only in an onscreen graphic: "ELIOT SPITZER, (D), FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK."

However, co-host Norah O'Donnell interviewed Spitzer and offered some tough questions: "Why do you think people should trust you or like you?"

Gayle King actually showed the Democrat mocking covers from the New York Post. She pushed, "How are you going to stand up to all the jokes? What's going to be your strategy?" 

O'Donnell wondered about people who will ask, "...Is this about public service or is this about his ego?"

In comparison to NBC's friendly coverage, Spitzer's treatment on CBS almost qualifies as a grilling. ABC, which has adopted a much more superficial tone in recent months, only allowed 26 seconds total on the topic.

A transcript of the July 8 Today segment is below:


7:16 ET

NATALIE MORALES: It has been five years since former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer stepped down amid a prostitution scandal. Well, now, he is planning a return to politics. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren is here with details on that. Kristen, good morning to you.

KRISTEN DAHLGREN: Hey. Good morning. 2013 may go down as the year of the second chance. Spitzer, who left office in 2008, is becoming just the latest figure in politics to attempt to do a 180, from illicit to elected.

ELIOT SPITZER: I'm asking for their forgiveness. I'm asking for their support.

DAHLGREN: The next comeback kid? Eliot Spitzer hopes so. The former New York state governor is launching a return to politics, announcing his candidacy for New York City's next comptroller.

SPITZER: The remorse I feel will always be with me.

DAHLGREN: Spitzer resigned as governor after just over a year in office when the so-called sheriff of Wall Street was revealed to have another nickname, client number nine, outed as a John in a high-end prostitution ring.

SPITZER: Now, for the front page.

DAHLGREN: Following the scandal, he remained a public figure, hosting short-lived prime-time shows on both CNN–

SPITZER: Waiting for the next government check?

DAHLGREN: A Current TV. Spitzer's run means he would be on the same September primary ballot as another one-time disgraced figure in the midst of an unlikely comeback of his own.

ANTHONY WEINER: I hope that I get a second chance to work for you.

DAHLGREN: Anthony Weiner is currently running for New York City mayor.

WEINER: Today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.

DAHLGREN: Two years after he resigned from Congress amid a scandal Weiner admitted tweeting sexually explicit photos to women, he's taken an unlikely lead in the polls.

WEINER: We are having this focus-pitch campaign.

MIKE ALLEN (Politico): Fallen politicians have two things going for them. Americans in general tend to be forgiving. But perhaps even more so, voters have amnesia. In the new digital, crazy world, nothing lasts.

DAHLGREN: So it's New York City voters' forgiveness and Spitzer's future that could ultimately be on the ballot this fall.

SPITZER: So, I said I could make this go and I'll give this a shot.

DAHLGREN: Now Spitzer's first hurdle will be to collect 3,750 signatures of registered voters required to earn a spot on the September primary ballot. The deadline for that is Thursday.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org