In 1,760 words, Tuesday's front page USA Today article on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer never identified him as a Democrat, not even in photo captions, though the online version was updated with his party affiliation, yet described Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter as Republicans in the first mentions of their names in the story. Here's the lead of the hard copy edition delivered to the MRC's offices Tuesday morning:
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was the brash Wall Street corruption buster who made ethics his trademark. He was on many lists of future presidential contenders. On Monday, he apologized after he was accused of meeting a high-priced prostitute in a Washington, D.C., hotel last month.
However, in the online “print edition” posting (not the updated throughout the day USAToday.com site) of the March 11 newspaper, “he” was updated to “the Democrat” so the online version begins:
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was the brash Wall Street corruption buster who made ethics his trademark. He was on many lists of future presidential contenders. On Monday, the Democrat apologized after he was accused of meeting a high-priced prostitute in a Washington, D.C., hotel last month.
With four hours of air time to fill NBC's "Today" show devoted a whopping 11 segments to the Eliot Spitzer scandal but not once did any of the show's anchors, reporters, guests, talking heads or even on-screen graphics mention the fact that Spitzer was a Democrat.
"Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira set the tone when she ignored Spitzer's party affiliation as she opened the March 11, "Today" show: "Good morning, client number nine. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a hard-charging moral crusader caught in a federal sting involving a high-price call girl ring." NBC's Matt Lauer, also bypassing the "D" next to Spitzer's name, piped in: "Just when you thought you couldn't be shocked any more we go from Eliot Ness to Eliot Mess. Another high profile politician making a stunning admission."
The following is a breakdown of all the Spitzer-related segments:
Saying that he's "breaking our hearts," Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Big Blog" breaking news editor Candace Heckman is chagrined about the probable demise of Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.). Yet while Heckman praised Spitzer as an intrepid friend of Everyman, the populist defender of the masses against powerful Big Business.
Not once did Heckman note Spitzer's party affiliation in her March 11 post (emphasis mine)
Say it ain't so, Eliot! Governor, you're breaking our hearts.
He was once known as the Sheriff of Wall Street, an investigator unafraid of attacking even the most powerful of corrupt institutions and people. He joined Microsoft in taking on spammers, and started criticizing mortgage-lending practices long before the market's recent problems. I mean, if there was a guy to stand behind, it was he.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a hero to consumer crusaders across the nation, is today the laughing stock for standup comics and barroom hecklers from Flatbush Avenue to Glenoaks Boulevard.
Anti-male sexism once again became a topic on the March 11 edition of "The View." Discussing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal, Joy Behar, who called men "idiots" who "think with Mr. Happy," shouted "I am sick of men and their sexual proclivities." Sherri Shepherd quickly responded "don’t put it on men." Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted the prostitute was a woman and "there are two people to blame there, two people that tangoed here." Later in the conversation Behar claimed "I don’t hate men. I hate politicians."
Behar also added "it seems as though power and sex go together with men." She also said she "would like to see a scandal where a woman is getting great sex." Whoopi Goldberg then inquired what kind of reaction would ensue if a female politician was caught with a male prostitute. Behar theorized that "they’d burn her at the stake."
The relevant portions of the conversation are below.
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show"a 1,612 word story on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal did not feature the word ‘Democrat’ even once, nor was the word used in any further coverage of Spitzer during the show. A 'D' did appear briefly next to Spitzer's name on screen at two points during the show, for a total of 14 seconds. In addition, the story portrayed Spitzer as a great crusader against corporate corruption as reporter Jeff Glor explained: "Eliot Spitzer was once called 'Crusader of the Year' by "Time" Magazine...Spitzer built his career by taking down white-collar criminals and righting the wrongs of Wall Street."
During his report, Glor mentioned Spitzer’s "political opponents" calling for the Governor’s resignation making sure not mention those "opponents" were Republicans. At the very end of the segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to political correspondent Jeff Greenfield and hinted at Spitzer’s party affiliation as she mentioned that Spitzer was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate: "You're our political guy, so I have to ask you, Eliot Spitzer was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton. That meant one vote for the nomination towards her. What happens to that head count now?"
ABC News has a photo montage of political sex scandals, featuring both Republicans and Democrats. But a few bloggers have noted that the captions for these photos often ignore the Democratic Party affiliation of Democrats while highlighting the GOP affiliation of Republican.
Out of 13 pols featured, there were five Democrats, four of whom (80 percent) were unidentified by party. Of the eight Republicans, only two (25 percent) were unidentified by party. Jay Tea at Wizbang has the breakdown here:
Here's a rundown of the disgraced pols, with party affiliations as ABC notes:
CNN 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.
Perhaps New York Governor Eliot Spitzer believes he can weather the firestorm over his scandal about his patronizing of a high-class prostitution ring. However, he is battling an element that will keep his scandal alive in the public more than the usual political scandal---humor. Spitzer's breaking scandal is less than a day old and already the media and the blogosphere is filled with many jokes and parody songs about his situation. Even many liberals are laughing at Spitzer since the humor generated by a self-righteous politician involved in a sleazy scandal involving a prostitution ring is just too hard to ignore. David Letterman led off his show with several jokes on this subject:
Do you think it’s too soon to be hitting on Mrs. Eliot Spitzer?
Did you happen to see the press conference? Very dramatic. Eliot Spitzer was there. He had yellow crime scene tape draped around his pants – crazy.
The thinking now is that the governor may step down now to spend less time with his family.
NewsBusters posters have already given Old Media deserved grief about its reluctance to pin the Democratic Party label on Eliot Spitzer, who, as of this moment, is still governor of New York (Brent Baker on evening news show coverage; Ken Shepherd on the BBC; Shepherd on the AP).
But, as blogger Ace noted last night (warning: some profanity at Ace's link), ABC has outdone the other outlets one better.
ABC's "Political Sex Scandals Redux" popup slideshow has a series of 13 slides relating to current and past politicians. If Republicans are or were involved, the network, with one rare and minor exception, consistently applies the "R" label almost immediately. With Democrats, with one very old exception, the party label isn't there.
The revelation that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the Social Justice League's caped crusader, has been involved in a prostitution ring will no doubt come as a shock to all those progressives who have faithfully –often fanatically– boosted him over the years. For years the boy wonder has prattled on about market abuses, both real and imagined, especially during his media-saturated tenure as New York’s attorney general from 1999 to 2006. For years journalists and pundits have hailed Spitzer as the protector of all things good. In a 2005 Time “Heroes & Icons” profile subtitled, “The Tireless Crusader,” John Bogle said Spitzer served with “energy, savvy and distinction” as state attorney general. In 2002 Time hailed him as “Crusader of the Year,” an event Spitzer notes in the bio of his gubernatorial website.
Incredibly, in lead stories Monday night about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring, neither ABC's World News nor the NBC Nightly News verbally identified Spitzer's political party. Must mean he's a liberal Democrat -- and he is. CBS anchor Katie Couric, however, managed to squeeze in a mention of his party. Last August when news of Larry Craig's arrest broke, both ABC and NBC stressed his GOP affiliation.
On ABC, the only hints as to Spitzer's party were a few seconds of video of Spitzer beside Hillary Clinton as they walked down some steps and a (D) on screen by Spitzer's name over part of one soundbite. NBC didn't even do that.
While ABC and NBC failed to cite Spitzer's political affiliation in the four minutes or so each network dedicated to the revelations, both managed to find time to applaud his reputation and effectiveness as the Empire State's Attorney General before becoming Governor. Fill-in ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas hailed how “he gained a reputation around the country for aggressively cracking down on corporate corruption. He was elected Governor with a reputation for fighting crime.” ABC reporter Dan Harris maintained “Governor Spitzer is known as a straight arrow, an ambitious overachiever...” Substitute NBC anchor Ann Curry pointed to how Spitzer's “reputation for righteously prosecuting wrongdoing gave him the nickname Eliot Ness.”
Update (18:18 EDT): BBC has updated their article to note the Democratic party affiliation in the 3rd graf (link). Our tipster DB informs us that the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb replied to his e-mail with a promise to "try to get it changed."
The BBC initially noted Gov. Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, in an early draft of an online news article. The mention was in the 6th paragraph. But that stuck for all of 37 minutes as NewsBusters reader DB informs us (screengrabs shown below page break):
A prostitution scandal strikes the Democrats? When Sen. David Vitter admitted he’d used the services of the "DC Madam," thanks to probing by ABC News, the major media saw harm for the entire Republican Party nationwide. Will Governor Spitzer become a national problem for the entire Democratic party? Or will the media suddenly keep the scandal as localized as they can make it?
NBC and MSNBC were especially aggressive in describing conservatives and Republicans "in crisis." The standout quote on the Vitter scandal (along with the Mark Foley internet-messages-to-pages scandal) came from MSNBC reporter David Shuster on August 29, 2007, who blurred the ethical embarrassments into Hurricane Katrina:
Update (16:50 EDT): Clay Waters of MRC's TimesWatch informs me the 3rd paragraph reference in a NYT article to Spitzer's Democratic Party affiliation has been removed. Only an oblique reference to his party remains in the 15th paragraph, notes Waters.
It's the first major political sex scandal of 2008 (aside from Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick) and it involves a Democrat. So of course the Associated Press failed to note Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D-NY) party affiliation. Via the LATimes.com Web site, published at 2:28 p.m. EDT:
The New York Times is reporting that Gov. Eliot Spitzer has told senior advisers that he had been involved in a prostitution ring.
On its Web site, the newspaper cites an anonymous administration official as the source and says Spitzer was meeting with his top aides.
Spitzer officials wouldn't immediately comment on the story to The Associated Press. An announcement was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at his Manhattan office.
The New York Times has more here, and that paper notes Spitzer's party affiliation in the third graf:
Another liberal Democratic governor has backed off an illegal immigrant-friendly challenge to the new federal Real ID law. Yet in their coverage of Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D-Md.) reversal, the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post failed to note how drastic the Democratic governor's reversal was, nor to consider if low polls numbers and public disapproval were driving factors for the change of plans.
Bowing to federal pressure to crack down on undocumented immigrants, the O'Malley administration announced yesterday that in two years it would begin requiring all driver's license applicants to present a birth certificate, passport or some other documentation to prove they are legal residents of the United States.
The fact has been out there for some time, but never garnered much media attention. Now, in the context of the current debate over the granting of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, will there be renewed focus on this chilling reality? Could this be the factoid that changes a presidential election? As John Fund wrote in his Wall Street Journal column today and discussed during his "Morning Joe" appearance:
After 9/11, the Justice Department found that eight of the 19 hijackers were registered to vote.
View video of Fund's "Morning Joe" appearance here.
And what made it so simple for them to register? As Fund explains:
Those that wisely shun CNN for its obvious liberal leanings have been missing an epic on-air battle between anti-illegal immigration anchor Lou Dobbs and New York's Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D).
In case you also eschew news from the Empire State, Spitzer wants to give all illegal immigrants in New York driver's licenses, which so offends Dobbs that he said on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" Monday evening: "I really don't care anymore about what this governor, this arrogant abuser of his office - and the just absolute disdain with which he holds both the truth and the citizens of the state of New York."
Let's say you are a scandal-ridden governor looking for some love. Where would you find it? Well, if you are New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, aka Steamroller Spitzer, immersed in a scandal that threatens to destroy your political career, you go looking for love in the Daily Kos with a divorced from reality "Happy Talk" blog post that makes no mention any pending unpleasantries. Spitzer's "Happy Talk" love fest on the Daily Kos will have no effect in stopping the scandal investigations but perhaps it is temporarily therapeutic to brag about himself to his fellow leftists in his blog post titled, Congratulations on a Great Weekend :
While we are seeing a mounting reform movement at the national level, I would also urge you to be aware of some of the important developments that are occurring in statehouses across the country. There are some exciting things happening, demonstrating that your activism is also paying dividends at the state level.