Less than 24-hours after former Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) was indicted on 14 charges including conspiracy and fraud, all three network morning shows immediately identified McDonnell as a Republican. While McDonnell’s potential crimes are serious, the media failed to uphold the same party ID standard when it involved a scandal plagued Democratic governor.
NBC led their January 22 coverage of the McDonnell scandal with Today host Savannah Guthrie introducing the segment by saying, “And now to that bombshell indictment of the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party.” ABC provided an on-screen graphic identifying McDonnell as a Republican and CBS This Morning’s Nancy Cordes said that “McDonnell was once considered a possible presidential contender for the GOP.”
Bill Maher on Friday attacked the media – particularly MSNBC’s Chris Matthews – for hypocrisy concerning how they handle sex scandals based on whether or not they like the politician involved.
The HBO Real Time host correctly pointed out that the Anthony Weiner-bashing Matthews absolutely adored John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton who were both involved in far worse sexcapades than the New York City mayoral candidate (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Would Eliot Spitzer be getting such a boost from CNN if he were a Republican? The former Democratic New York governor resigned in 2008 over a prostitution scandal, but less than three years later he snagged a prime-time show on CNN. On Wednesday night he enjoyed a nice promotion from CNN's Piers Morgan as he runs for New York City comptroller.
Morgan largely avoided Spitzer's 2008 scandal – except to use it for his "comeback" narrative. "This is all part of a comeback. You are the 'Comeback Kid.' Do you like being the 'Comeback Kid?'" he asked Spitzer. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
For the second day in a row, the journalists at Good Morning America failed to identify prostitution patron Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat. Yet, in a story on the politician's comeback, reporter Claire Shipman made sure to highlight former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford as a Republican. Regarding Spitzer's bid to be the New York City comptroller, Shipman enthused, "A new political lesson for Eliot Spitzer: Infamy might work to his advantage."
She continued, "It certainly brought the former New York governor crowds he could not have imagined before his prostitution scandal cost him his job in 2008." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] What the reporter conveniently ignored is that Spitzer was mercilessly heckled on Thursday. A Manhattan man screamed at the Democrat, "Why were you late? Were you with a hooker?"
CNN mentioned Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal in every single report on his comeback bid in politics on Monday and Tuesday, but hid that he was recently a CNN prime-time host in five of the seven reports.
Spitzer was originally hired by CNN as a liberal voice, to co-host a prime-time show with "conservative" Kathleen Parker that debuted in October of 2010. When Parker left the show months later in February of 2011, Spitzer – originally hired for his liberal bias – became the sole host of In the Arena, which was canceled later in July. Yet CNN only disclosed this information twice in its seven reports on Spitzer's candidacy for New York City comptroller.
As defenses go to the charge of having lied to the people of New York about illegal activities, Eliot Spitzer's was feeble at best. Hey, politicans lie all the time about all sorts of stuff, was the essence of Client #9-turned-Comptroller-candidate's response.
Spitzer's lame defense [he literally said: "I think we all know that politicians dissemble all the time about negotiations, on substantive issues and probably on personal issues as well"] came in response to some serious grilling by Mark Halperin on today's Morning Joe. The Spitzer segment was set up to feature Mika Brzezinski as chief inquisitor, but it was actually Halperin who subjected Spritzer to the closest scrutiny. View the video after the jump.
Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish on Monday was so gentle with reformed prostitution patron Eliot Spitzer that even the former governor seemed uncomfortable. Talking about Spitzer's new run for New York City comptroller, Smerconish enthused, "Governor, does running now mean that resigning was unwarranted?"
He continued, "Would a Spitzer victory mark the of end of the sex scandal as we know it? And I'm asking, really, have we become too intrusive into our elected officials' and candidates' private lives?" This appeared to be too much for Spitzer. He allowed, "Look, I'm not sure I'm the right person to ask, because I have a perspective that is so tailored to what I've been through." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
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."
I say "political integrity expert," you say "Eliot Spitzer." I say "you're kidding me, right?"
Rachel Maddow actually got off to a good start last evening in her segment on political sleaziness, ripping politicians both Dem and Republican for a variety of venal sins. But of all the people to bring on as your expert to discuss how to raise the moral bar . . . Client 9? Surely you make mirth, Ms. Maddow! View the video after the jump.
CNN's Howard Kurtz on Sunday mocked the hiring of sex scandal plagued former governor Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) by Fox News.
Hypocritically, the "Reliable Sources" host neglected to mention his own network's prior relationship with the prostitute loving former governor Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.) (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Former CNN anchor Eliot Spitzer is facing two libel lawsuits seeking a total of $90 million, Reuters reported Monday. The suits were filed Friday by two former employees of insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan Cos. The plaintiffs argued that they were defamed in a critical Slate column by Spitzer, written one year ago on August 22.
The plaintiffs are William Gilman and Edward McNenney, who were not mentioned by name in Spitzer's piece about an insurance-rigging scandal. However, the complaint alleged that Spitzer defamed Gilman in his reporting on corrupt activity at Marsh, and in his accusation that "many employees" of the firm were sentenced to jail time – a claim the plaintiffs argued was false.
One disgraced former governor hosted another disgraced former governor Monday night to praise New York's same-sex marriage bill. CNN's In the Arena host Eliot Spitzer brought on former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey to discuss the bill in what turned out to be love-fest in honor of McGreevey's pro-gay sentiments.
McGreevey, a Democrat, announced he was gay in 2004 while he was in office as governor of New Jersey. The announcement came as he resigned from office revealing that he had an gay affair with another man while married to his wife.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews took a well-deserved shot at rival network CNN Monday for actually giving former New York governor Eliot Spitzer his own program.
The "Hardball" host also took a swipe at Spitzer saying it was "ludicrous" for him to actually be talking about Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) sex scandal (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Chrystia Freeland made a series of bizarre statements on MSNBC today that were overshadowed only by Anthony Weiner's contrite presser during which the Democratic congressman admitted to tweeting the infamous crotch photo and lying to cover it up.
Before the press conference, the Reuters editor-at-large quipped that the Twitter controversy showed that Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as New York governor in 2008 after being caught sleeping with prostitutes, "is a really classy guy."
CNN media analyst Howard Kurtz on Monday offered Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Eliot Spitzer as examples of how the press don't give Democrats the benefit of the doubt when it comes to sex scandals.
Responding to questions about why the media have either ignored or taken sides on this weekend's brouhaha surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Kurtz sent the following absurd message via Twitter:
Every hour but one of CNN's Tuesday evening news coverage featured at least a mention of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's marital infidelity. Guess which anchor backed away from any mention of the scandal?
Schwarzenegger's revelation of his fathering a child with a mistress was one of the day's leading headlines, and merited a mention if not a segment on most every CNN news hour Tuesday. During its 5 p.m.-12 a.m. EDT coverage, CNN reported the story every hour except during the 8 p.m. EDT slot – the prime-time show In the Arena with Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer made no mention of the story.
CNN continued its rehabilitation of Eliot Spitzer's political career in leaving his name out of a lengthy list of recent political sex scandals Tuesday. As MediaBistro and my colleague Tom Blumer reported yesterday, the network shied away from disclosing the checkered past of one of its prime-time anchors.
In the wake of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revelations that he fathered a child with a mistress, CNN ran a segment during the 2 p.m. EDT hour covering recent political sex scandals. Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux mentioned six by name and CNN ran old news clips of even more – but failed to disclose that the current host of a CNN prime-time show was once embroiled in an infamous scandal.
UPDATE, May 18: NewsBusters commenter "dreamsincolor" has pointed out that CNN "somehow" forgot Democratic New York Congressman Eric Massa, who resigned in 2009 to avoid "an ethics investigation into alleged misconduct toward a male staff member."
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Chris Ariens filed a report today at MediaBistro's TVNewser that opened with a reader's Tweet, which plaintively asked: "Did CNN really exclude Spitzer from Malveaux package on Sex Scandals & Politics? Hmm.."
What were the Parker Spitzer producers thinking? If there was one guy you'd want to keep at a decent distance from a female co-host, it's Gov. Love Potion #9. But tuning into the show, for the first time, tonight, I was shocked to see the way the pair had been virtually thrown into each other's laps.
A bit of inside TV baseball: I host a local TV show in my hometown. I'm always struck by how, when I'm sitting what feels quite close to a guest, we appear miles apart on camera. So for Parker and Spitzer to appear so close on TV, they must literally be rubbing, well, elbows.
Today marks the scandal-scarred Eliot's Spitzer's debut as CNN's newest co-host (with columnist Kathleen Parker, of the 8pm ET "Parker/Spitzer"). NewsBusters thought it might be worthwhile to review what Spitzer's colleagues said about "Client Number 9" before he joined the network (although now, apparently, some CNN regulars think it's okay to compare him to Martin Luther King).
What makes Eliot Spitzer less qualified as a legitimate commentator on current events: his shameful exit from the New York governorship, or his sorry performance as governor?
In a column today, Kenneth Lovett, Albany Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News, argues for the latter. Spitzer, the headline states, "should not be advising America." The former governor is co-host, with Kathleen Parker, of the new CNN prime time show "Parker Spitzer", which premieres tonight.
While Spitzer is clearly not a model of personal integrity, Lovett insisted that the man was a complete political failure to boot. He rattled off a long list (for the short period of time in question) of political misdeeds by the former governor, ending the column with a scathing quote from a Democratic political consultant: "The fact this guy now is going to tell America how to function after what he did to New York is a disgrace."
Monday brings the debut of CNN’s new “Parker Spitzer,” an 8pm ET political discussion program hosted by columnist Kathleen Parker and the ex-Democratic Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, who resigned two years ago in the midst of a prostitution scandal.
The new show was championed by then-CNN President Jonathan Klein, who was fired by the network on Friday. “Eliot Spitzer still has a lot of ideas to contribute and a lot of things to say. And I think our viewers are going to find him a very interesting person to tune into every night,” Klein enthused back on June 27 on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
As a reality check on CNN’s effort to rehabilitate this scandal-scarred liberal, MRC intern Alex Fitzsimmons and I pulled together quotes from CNN’s coverage of Spitzer’s scandal back in March 2008. MRC video editor Bob Parks turned the clips we found into a polished video presentation documenting how the infamous “Client #9” was mocked and derided by the anchors and correspondents who are now his colleagues. (Video after the jump)
Promoting his latest HBO special on Monday's CBS Early Show, comedian Robert Klein turned his attention to the Gulf oil spill and who's to blame: "...we're all to blame. We're pigs. It's a parable for us. American pre-eminence is not guaranteed and unless we learn that this stuff has dangers– where are all those 'drill, baby, drills' now?" [Audio available here]
Those comments were prompted by co-host Harry Smith remarking: "BP would be such a spectacular target for your lampooning." Klein went on to add: "...all that oil that's fouling everything, it probably wouldn't run the automobiles in Texas for one day." Smith chimed in: "An hour." Klein proclaimed: "...it's minuscule, that's how much we use of that stuff. So let's get off it. I mean, and it's coming back to us in bullets, everybody knows this. But Americans have a memory of about 12 seconds."
On CBS's Sunday Morning program, a 'Fast Draw' segment by cartoonists Mitch Butler and Josh Landis similarly scolded Americans for wasting energy. Landis warned: "Our hunger for energy is driving oil companies to drill deeper and more dangerous wells..." Butler remarked: "Thankfully, these days everyone's talking about going green and saving energy. We know to ride bicycles to work instead of driving a car, don't use that air conditioner on a hot summer day. Air travel uses way too much energy. So don't take that vacation." However, Landis lamented: "...most Americans don't make enough of these kinds of sacrifices to save a meaningful amount of energy."
Today, the Associated Press generally did what is supposed to do when reporting on scandal-plagued politicians. Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP's brief report on Indiana Congressman Mark Souder's resignation announcement (link is dynamic and will probably be updated; "where's the worst one we can find?" picture of Souder at top right is via AP):
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's high-priced call girl Ashley Dupre has landed herself an advice column at the New York Post:
Sure, she's made some mistakes. But now Ashley Dupre, the former escort who brought down Gov. Eliot Spitzer, is sharing what she's learned in her new sex, love and relationship column -- exclusively in the New York Post. Is your husband cheating? Is your daughter on a dangerous path? Our readers asked -- and Ashley fired back with her no-nonsense advice.
I guess all of Tiger Woods' mistresses should take heart, for it appears in America today being the other woman can really pay off.
The Post even created a video to advertise its new columnist (video embedded below the fold, h/t Mediaite):
"Saturday Night Live" opened yesterday's show by mocking media for supposedly under-reporting the extra-marital affairs of three politicians, but the sketch completely ignored how the press boycotted the philandering of Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards for nine months.
The program's producers also opted not to include disgraced former Democrat Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer in the group.
Instead, on stage were Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), played by Jason Sudeikis, Sen John Ensign (R-Nev.), played by Bill Hader, and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), played by Will Forte.
Despite the absurdity of suggesting that Ensign and Sanford's respective affairs were under-reported by the press, "SNL" writers completely avoided the fact that the news media, with the exception of the National Enquirer, boycotted Edwards' affair until after Barack Obama had been declared the Democratic presidential nominee (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz brought up the scarcity of media attention paid to the revelation that high-profile Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney for his home state of Montana, as the CNN host even took to task CNN for ignoring the scandal, calling it a "stunning lapse in judgment," and recounted that he had monitored the news channel on Saturday and did not see Baucus mentioned. Kurtz: "Washington Post has it on page three, New York Times has it on page 33. I watched CNN all day yesterday. I didn’t see any mention of this story, which I thought was a stunning lapse in judgment."
When Kurtz questioned why there was so little media attention, guest Chip Reid of CBS News asserted there was "no scandal" in the story. Reid: "I don’t think it has legs because there’s no sex scandal, and it’s not like Vitter. It’s not like Ensign. There’s no scandal here."
Want to make a big splash to bolster your chances in a political campaign? A tried and true strategy for some attorneys general has been to champion a populist position by exploiting the legal system for publicity. Just look at the lead up to the launch of former New York AG Eliot Spitzer gubernatorial campaign with his attacks on Wall Street.
And that appears to be the playbook California Attorney General Jerry Brown is using in a lawsuit accusing State Street (NYSE:STT) of cheating the state's two largest pension funds, the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, of at least $56.6 million.
However, CNBC's Michele Caruso-Cabrera wasn't afraid to ask Brown if that was indeed the case in an Oct. 20 interview on CNBC's "Power Lunch."