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."
Spitzer defends Bill Clinton; Parker didn't think he should have been impeached. Spitzer thinks the Democratic Party has sold out to Wall Street; Parker believes Anita Hill was telling the truth. At one point, she tells executive producer Liza McGuirk: "It's going to be hard to pin me down on a right-wing position."
Translation: it's going to be hard to pin down a right-wing viewer on CNN. Kurtz doesn't try to pin down for the Post reader whether Parker believes Clinton shouldn't have been impeached for lying about illicit intern sex, but Anita Hill's unproven tale of oafish sexual harassment should have derailed the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Parade magazine, the nationally distributed Sunday newspaper supplement, offers an interview with disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (aka, Client Number 9), whose new CNN talk show starts Monday night. The questioner is CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. Isn't this a bit too cozy, even as Parade acknowledged their CNN connection? When asked about his high-priced prostitute scandal, Spitzer pushed back:
GERGEN: Critics have argued that your selection is bad for TV news, that it rewards vice over virtue. [Bingo.]
SPITZER: There are precious few who are pure. I say that not to in any way justify myself or diminish my sense of remorse but rather to say 'Okay, I have acknowledged by lapses. If you think I can still offer something, I'll be happy to try.'
Worse yet, Gergen ended the interview comparing Spitzer to Martin Luther King Jr. (who cheated on his wife as well):
GERGEN: Martin Luther King biographer Taylor Branch once told me that King took great chances in his public life because he wanted to atone for the inner issues he was struggling with.
SPITZER: That's interesting -- he felt compelled to push hard in order to seek the redemption he believed was necessary. That's the great tension: we are better at understanding morality than we are at living it.
On Thursday's Larry King Live, future anchor Kathleen Parker verified her tenuous conservative credentials, as she identified herself as a "conservative," but added, "a pox on everybody's house, as far as I'm concerned." She later confessed that she "would put myself...slightly to the right of center," and that she was "a big fan of Barack Obama as he came into office...I didn't want him to fail."
Anchor Larry King brought on Parker and future co-host Eliot Spitzer of "Client Number Nine" fame during the first half of the 9 pm Eastern hour. Three minutes in, King asked about the format of the show, which begins on October 4. After the two briefly described it, the columnist stated that "Eliot is identified as a Democrat and I'm identified as a conservative." Spitzer replied, "Well, you said Democrat/conservative, not Republican," and the resulting exchange led to Parker revealing how she saw her position politically.
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)
A governor forced to resign for patronizing call girls will probably have a hard time landing a job making pronouncements on politics, right? But there, on CNN, is former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Spitzer will co-host a show with pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker called "Parker Spitzer," which is set to debut on Oct. 4. But in the meantime, Spitzer has been making regular appearances on CNN programming to offer the liberal perspective on issues. On CNN's Sept. 20 "Anderson Cooper 360," that's what he did, carrying water for the Democratic Party - even though his argument was factually leaky.
In the wake of the GOP's nomination of Christine O'Donnell as the Delaware candidate for U.S. Senate, Spitzer took on conservative talker and blogger Dana Loesch over what issues the Tea Party movement was really interested in taking a stand on - fiscal or social. Loesch argued that the movement isn't just about opposing this Congress' policy endeavors, but is also offering solutions, as was the case with ObamaCare.
CNN offered a sneak preview of their upcoming Parker-Spitzer program on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360 with the new hosts, pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker and "Client Number Nine" Eliot Spitzer agreeing that the "well-spoken" Imam Feisal Rauf changed few minds with his recent interview. The two also forwarded their network's charge that "Islamophobia" is growing in the U.S.
Anchor Anderson Cooper began the segment by asking the two about Soledad O'Brien interview of Rauf, which took place the previous hour. Parker, the "Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and noted conservative commentator," as Cooper called her, endorsed his appearance and went on to characterize the two sides of the debate over the planned Ground Zero mosque. In her view, those who oppose it "were going to sort of be looking for ways to convince yourself that he was...trying to be this, sort of, secret jihadist." On the other hand, the supporters of the mosque "understand that he seemed as a reasonable, rational person who's well-spoken and has something important to say."
Why is The Boston Globe sucking up to CNN? In an unsigned staff editorial on Tuesday, the Globe warned TV critics to "back off" CNN for hiring "fresher voices" like Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced ex-Governor of New York and pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker. They strangely claimed that somehow Spitzer won't be partisan, but he will be "candid" -- like in his political career?? He's "forever marred" by his transactional sex, but also a superior host because of it?
Yes, Spitzer will forever be marred by his use of prostitutes, but the demise of his political career has freed him up to be far more candid than the average moonlighting politico. Parker, a voice of common-sense conservatism, is notable for her willingness to break with the GOP herd; in 2008, she wrote that Sarah Palin lacked important qualifications for national office.
Another Crossfire this won’t be: Spitzer and Parker will probably be unpredictable and sometimes contrarian. They might even agree on some things — an entirely welcome development. Throwing ideological chum to the partisan masses will always draw ratings, but it rarely leaves viewers better informed.
Anyone who thinks Client #9 isn't going to be a partisan Democrat isn't watching his recent TV appearances, attacking the GOP as the "party of nihilism." But the Globe mourns how Fox News and MSNBC are ruining the political culture, while CNN is a PBS-style oasis by comparison:
Naturally, Kathleen Parker used her Sunday space on the Washington Post to do what every other Parker column in The Washington Post has sought to do: prepare for the next career step. That would mean proclaiming her humility, shock and/or horror that she would get a nightly prime time hour on CNN, defending/excusing Eliot Spitzer, and declaring that she’s keeping her syndicated column (after all, the ratings might not be promising). Her tender solicitations for Spitzer and his genius in tackling Wall Street are the pink-nausea-pill part:
He was prescient about Wall Street, in other words, long before the recent financial crisis. Who wouldn't be interested in what he has to say about financial reform today?
I'm not defending Spitzer or condoning his behavior. [Ahem, yes, you are.] Ultimately, I decided that his obvious intelligence, insights and potential contributions outweighed his other record. As far as I'm concerned, especially given that he has resigned from public office, the flaws that brought Spitzer down are between him and his family. Like most Americans, I believe in redemption.
In the Parker career plan, then, this is the motto: I don’t believe in the creepy G-O-D people who are ruining the Republican Party with their “oogedy-boogedy armband religion” of redemption, but I do believe in the redemption of people who can be my meal ticket on CNN at "almost $700,000 a year."
The former CEO of CNN and the creator of its Crossfire show, Reese Schonfeld, has slammed the new CNN show that will be hosted by Kathleen Parker and Client Number Nine aka Eliot Spitzer. In his Huffington Post blog, Schonfeld not only blasts the proposed new show but provides some interesting background on the original Crossfire in its early years:
As the former CEO of CNN, and the creator of Crossfire (the show, not the name -- Paul Bissonette, CNN's PR man, came up with that), I think I'm qualified to comment on the new, not to be called Crossfire, television program created for Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker.
To be blunt, I can't think of a worse idea. The original Crossfire featured Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden, whose name you rarely hear these days. The program was not intended as a shouting match -- our goal was to put the number one news maker of the day on CNN air at 10pm every night and to have him reply to questions from the right, Buchanan, and from the moderate left, Braden. The guest would be caught in the crossfire.
The Washington Post Style section promised an article on CNN's new Eliot Spitzer-Kathleen Parker chat show with this front-page blurb: "Odd couple on CNN: New show pairs a conservative with a Democrat." Inside, in an article surprisingly shy on her typical snark, TV columnist Lisa de Moraes also described the pairing as the "disgraced/rehabbed former governor Eliot Spitzer, the New York Democrat" vs. "Pulitzer-prize winning conservative columnist Kathleen Parker," syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group (this could explain the lack of snark against Parker, if not Spitzer.)
The TV columnist made no attempt to assess whether conservatives felt she was one of them (they don't). She did see this as a turnabout for "Crossfire"-canceling CNN president Jon Klein, but she reproduced his sales chat without much objection:
In an interview with The TV Column, Klein said that Spitzer and Parker "can address an appetite that is not being satisfied now -- the 99 percent of the country not watching" the other 8 o'clock cable news shows.
"We'd like to begin the long, slow, steady process of reaching the underserved....We think America's ready for that....I can't think of two people better suited than these super-intelligent, ultra-opinionated but rational individuals."
The rumors were true. CNN is without shame. They are hiring disgraced Democrat Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the hypocritical “Sheriff of Wall Street” who hired high-priced hookers, as a talk-show host. Spitzer’s co-host will be pseudo-conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who won the Pulitzer Prize for being a conservative-basher. CNN’s press release on their Political Ticker said “she describes herself as a ‘rational’ conservative.”
That’s a nice way to endear her to the “irrational” conservatives who might have considered watching this show. It's set up to be Liberal Lion vs. 'Rational' Lamb.
Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., the man who canceled the long-running left-right show “Crossfire” after Jon Stewart lamented they needed to "stop, stop, stop, stop, hurting America," has reinvented the format as just the latest liberal-media attempt to rehabilitate Spitzer’s career.
Klein said in a statement: "Eliot and Kathleen are beholden to no vested interest - in fact, quite the opposite: they are renowned for taking on the most powerful targets and most important causes." They're actually spinning this "unbeholden" Spitzer as a moralist and guardian of the public interest.
CNN’s press release suggested that little prostitution thing is hardly a disqualification for such a “well-respected political mind.” They even re-used the ridiculous “Sheriff” moniker:
With all the conservative columnists out there, if you were looking for an author to represent the right-wing view in a new Crossfire-like program, would you choose Kathleen Parker who lately has largely presented herself as a Republican In Name Only?
According to the New York Post, that's exactly what CNN is considering.
Not only that, but her liberal opponent is rumored to be -- wait for it! -- disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer.
Here's what the Post published Friday concerning this matter:
On Monday’s Joy Behar Show, after a segment on long-time journalist Helen Thomas’s recent outburst that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland, host Behar held over guest and comedian Robert Klein to talk about his comedy show, titled Robert Klein: Unfair and Unbalanced. After Behar asked if the title was meant to be a jab at Fox News, Klein referred to the false premise that liberals are not included on FNC, and cracked that there have not been any liberals since on FNC since former host Alan Colmes was "sent back to Poland," which could be interpreted as a Nazi joke about Fox News: "They haven`t had a liberal on that thing since Alan Colmes was, you know, sent back to Poland. ... Emotional scars that boy has on that network." Behar added that Colmes and Helen Thomas are "on the train right now." Klein concluded that FNC’s "Fair and Balanced" theme is "pretty ludicrous." Colmes, notably, still appears regularly as an analyst on FNC.
Klein also made it known that he prefers to attack conservatives over sex scandals because of the hypocrisy issue, while the treating sex scandals of Democrats as less important because they are not "values guys" anyway:
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):
In the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez lobbed softballs to disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer about his college friend and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan: "She's been labeled as moderate. If you had to put a label on her, would you say that one is accurate?" A headline on screen read: "Who is Elena Kagan?"
Spitzer replied: "I guess you could say moderate....it's very hard to pigeon hole her." Rodriguez's question was prompted by his insistence that Kagan "is not an ideologue of the Left or the Right and that is clear from what she did as dean of Harvard Law School. Just a perfect temperament to be a justice." Of course, during Kagan's tenure as dean of Harvard Law, she pushed for military recruiters to be barred from campus because of her opposition to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
Rodriguez wondered about Kagan's college days: "Can you think of a story or an anecdote from back then?" Spitzer recalled: "a friend and I were going back and forth about who could eat more, she goaded us into having a spaghetti eating contest." Rodriguez looked for the best way to spin the story to make it relevant: "I'm trying to take something from that, could it be that she's persuasive, can bring people together, which is what the President is hoping?" In response, Spitzer declared that once on the Supreme Court, Kagan "will get the fifth vote."
Cheering some Republican support for Democratic financial reform legislation on Wednesday, CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "encouraging news out of Washington, that after a week or so of attacking this financial bill that the Democrats are proposing to regulate Wall Street, Republicans are changing their tone and they seem to be wanting to come on board."
Rodriguez turned to business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and wondered: "Does it look, this morning, as though a bipartisan bill will emerge?" Jarvis replied: "Well, Maggie, it looks this morning like Republicans are warming up to the idea of a bipartisan bill on financial reform." She added: "With Obama, the President, coming here to Wall Street tomorrow to push the agenda forward, it looks like there will be a political expediency to getting the deal done." An on-screen headline read: "Financial Reform Push; Obama & Senate Take on Wall Street."
On Tuesday, the Early Show had on disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer to discuss financial reform. Co-host Harry Smith introduced him as "the sheriff of Wall Street."
Get caught with your pants (but not black socks) down consorting with hookers after hypocritically spearheading investigations of prostitution rings? No problem if you are a liberal. There is always a chance for political redemption with the aid of the mainstream media. Such was the case this past week with Client # 9 aka Eliot Spitzer. First Spitzer lets us know about the terrible pain of irrelevance in a Fortune magazine article:
...But he also says he is "in unceasing agony" and "incredibly frustrated" over no longer being "where I would like to be" -- finishing his first term as governor of New York. "Anybody who says disengaging from it in any way is easy is not being straightforward," he says. "Obviously, removing myself the way I did is that much more painful."
While discussing the Democrats' latest version of health care reform on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked GOP strategist Ed Rollins: "Are the Republicans better off just saying let the Democrats burn in hell with this, we're going to stay on the sidelines and win the House back this fall?"
The segment also featured disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who Smith earlier asked about an upcoming health care summit: "...this whole notion that the Republicans were saying 'well, we might not show up, now Mitch McConnell over the weekend, the minority head of the Senate, says 'we're going come, but we think the Democrats are arrogant.' Is this doomed from the get-go?" Spitzer proclaimed: "the Democratic Party and the President know they must get something done. The internal discipline within the Democratic Party will be what makes this a success."
Spitzer later argued: "The Republican Party's been the party of no, the party of nihilism. The President should stand up and say 'here's what's good for America. We have the votes, we're willing to do it.'" Smith followed that logic: "So is this then the real test for the President?...To say 'I have control of the people in my party, I can do this thing and it will benefit the American people.' And in the end, push back to everything that's been pushing up against him?" Spitzer replied: "This is the moment when either he says we are leaders, we will get it done, or if they fail this time, then it really is debacle for the Democratic Party."
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):
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."
While discussing the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on MSNBC Monday, guest Eliot Spitzer made a startling observation: "Democratic presidents nominate very centrist justices to the Supreme Court. The Republican presidents over the past 10-15 years have nominated very extremely conservative justices and that’s why the court has eschewed to the right."[audio available here]
Spitzer, the former Governor of New York who resigned from office in 2008 amid a sex scandal with a prostitute, went on to lament the unwillingness of Democratic presidents to appoint more liberal justices: "And the role of the Democratic judges – justices – has been to play the middle... And that is, I think, at a larger ideological point, a discussion we should have, because Democratic presidents have been hesitant to put really liberal justices on the court."
MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan, who was premiering his new show "The Morning Meeting," did not challenge Spitzer’s absurd assertions, but rather turned to Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart and asked: "Yeah, Jonathan what do you think about that? That the Republicans have papered it with very conservative judges and that Democrats have tried to go more middle or slightly left of center, as opposed to way left judges?" Capehart agreed with Spitzer: "Well look, I respect everything my – Governor Spitzer says."
In the wake of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s admission to having an affair, evening and morning newscasts on NBC, CBS, and ABC all immediately identified him as a Republican. In contrast, in March of last year, the networks rarely identified disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat in the wake of his affair with a prostitute.
In a 2008 study of evening and morning network newscasts following the Spitzer scandal, NewsBusters’ Rich Noyes found that within the first week of news coverage Spitzer was only identified as a Democrat 20% of the time. However, within the first 24 hours of Sanford’s confession to having an affair, he was identified as a Republican 100% of the time, during coverage on all the networks.
On Wednesday, the NBC Nightly News, which failed to give Spitzer’s party affiliation for three days following his scandal, immediately focused on Sanford’s national role in the Republican Party as anchor Brian Williams declared: "In a Republican Party hungry for young stars, he was one of them: Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina...Tonight his political career is in tatters. His state, his party are in some turmoil. And Mark Sanford is no longer being mentioned as a possible GOP nominee for the White House."
All three broadcast network morning shows on Wednesday made a point of labeling Nevada Senator John Ensign as a “Republican” after the Senator came forward last night to admit having an extramarital affair last year. NBC, which refrained for days from calling New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a “Democrat” after his relationship with a prostitute was exposed, called Ensign a “conservative Republican,” while CBS made a point of reciting Ensign’s associations with Christian groups.
ABC’s Good Morning America provided the only full report, with the on-screen headline declaring “Leading GOP Senator Admits Affair.” News anchor Chris Cuomo and correspondent Jonathan Karl noted Ensign’s Republican affiliation three times: “A rising star in the Republican Party is coming forward....” “John Ensign is a member of the Republican leadership....” and “The Republican from Nevada admits cheating on his wife...”
Last year, NewsBusters noted how the networks always added the “Republican” label to GOP politicians caught in sex scandals, but not Democrats; with their coverage of the Ensign scandal this morning, the networks are maintaining their perfectly slanted approach.
On Monday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno incorrectly called New York’s former Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer a Republican during the show’s monologue as he joked about Republican sex scandals. Inspired by John McCain’s daughter Meghan’s recent declaration that she is a "pro-sex Republican," Leno used her comment to poke fun at Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, as well as Democrat Spitzer, who were both revealed to have hired prostitutes. But Leno’s joke assumed both disgraced politicians were Republicans: "Don’t confuse that with other Republicans like Senator Vitter and Eliot Spitzer. They like to get their sex from a pro."
If Leno was confused about Spitzer's party affiliation, it is hardly surprising, as the MRC’s Brent Baker previously documented the mainstream media’s reluctance to label Spitzer as a Democrat, and Rich Noyes documented the media’s greater willingness to label Republicans involved in sex scandals.
Below is the complete text of Leno’s joke from the Monday, May 25, Tonight Show on NBC:
Just this past Monday, NBC’s "Today" show studiously avoided mentioning disgraced Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Democratic affiliation during his interview with Matt Lauer, but fast forward to Wednesday’s "Today" and a story about another governor embroiled in a sex scandal -- in this case Nevada Republican Governor Jim Gibbons -- and NBC’s Michael Okwu was careful to note he is a Republican at the very top of the story:
MICHAEL OKWU: If voters in Nevada were betting on a nasty gubernatorial divorce, this week they hit the jackpot. That's Republican Governor Jim Gibbons. There's his future ex-wife, Dawn. After 23 years of a polished political marriage to Dawn Gibbons, a former state assemblywoman, the governor has filed for divorce citing incompatibility in what's become a very public war of the roses.