Media Bistro: CNN 'Sex Scandals' TV Segment Omits CNN Show Host Eliot Spitzer

May 17th, 2011 9:22 PM

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.."

Ariens responds:

The answer: yes it did.


Suzanne Malveaux‘s story, which aired at 2:30pm ET, made mention or showed images of politicians ranging from John F. Kennedy to John Edwards; also former Governors James McGreevey and Mark Sanford, and former Sen. Larry Craig and current Sen. David Vitter, former Pres. Bill Clinton, and 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — their private indiscretions made very public. But no mention of Eliot Spitzer who resigned as Governor of New York after it was revealed he had patronized a prostitution service. Spitzer now hosts CNN’s 7pm show “In the Arena.” We’ve learned the producer/editor on the story, who use their own judgment on what to use and what not to use, chose not to include Spitzer in the story. has a slideshow of 17 recent political sex scandals. On it, Spitzer is #10.

How considerate of that conveniently unnamed producer.

Spitzer's picture is also on the front page of the slide show, which really only has 16 items (the first slide is the intro). But as readers will see, unlike in most other entries, Spitzer was not identified as a Democrat.

Their order of appearance of the scoundrels included in the slideshow, with more than a tinge of "name that party" bias, is as follows:

  • Slide 2: Bill Clinton, tagged as a Democrat and identified as impeached but "acquitted." There is no mention of the settlement with Paula Jones, the rape accusations of Juanita Broadderick, or the other penalties he incurred (loss of license to practice law, fines, etc.) for his self-evident acts of perjury.
  • Slide 3: Republican Congressman Bob Livingston, who resigned in 1998; tagged as such. Not revealed: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is the person who chose to expose Livingston's affair days before the House voted to impeach Clinton.
  • Slide 4: Democrat Jim McGreevey, former New Jersey governor, tagged as such. McGreevey resigned in the wake of a homosexual affair and imminent charges of sexual harrassment by a former security aide.
  • Slide 5: Mark Foley, former Republican Congressman, tagged as such. Foley had sent sexually explicit e-mails to House pages. This is one of three "sex scandals" where no sex was involved; all three "just so happen" to involve Republicans (Larry Craig at Slide 8, and Christopher Lee at Slide 14 are the other two). The entry notes that Florida authorities and the FBI each "opened an investigation," with no resolution identified.
  • Slide 6: Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa, tagged as such. He had a 2007 affair with an LA TV reporter.
  • Slide 7: Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter, tagged as such. His phone number showed up in 2007 in an escort service's records, and Vitter apologized "for a very serious sin in my past."
  • Slide 8: Republican Senator Larry Craig, tagged as such. In 2007, he was arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge involving no sexual contact involving an airport sting of alleged gay restroom activity in the Minneapolis airport.
  • Slide 9: Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, tagged as such. Kilpatrick, who is currently in prison, had an affair with his chief of staff, but grimly hung onto power until the Feds indicted him on corruption charges.
  • Slide 10: Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, not (repeat: not) tagged as a Democrat. CNN describes him as "a former attorney general known his squeaky-clean image and his tenacious efforts at fighting corruption." A Wall Street Journal editorial at the time of Spitzer's resignation in disgrace vehemently disagreed: "Mr. Spitzer’s recklessness with the state’s highest elected office, though, is of a piece with his consistent excesses as Attorney General from 1999 to 2006." CNN's entry further understates: "(He) resigned after allegations surfaced that he met with a prostitute who was part of an international prostitute ring." Uh, guys, there was more than one "meeting," and almost definitely more than one prostitute.
  • Slide 11: Former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Incredibly, CNN did not identify Edwards as Democrat or even as a former presidential candidate; I'm not kidding. Edwards had an extramarital affair and fathered a child out of wedlock during the 2008 presidential campaign.
  • Slide 12: Republican Nevada Senator John Ensign, tagged as such. Ensign resigned earlier this year in the aftermath of his affair with his former chief of staff, and apparently could still be in legal jeopardy over related ethical matters.
  • Slide 13: Former Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, tagged as such (as "head of the Republican Governors Association"). He had an extramarital affair, and clung to office until January 2011.
  • Slide 14: Former Congressman Christopher Lee (R-NY), tagged as such. He resigned in the wake of "allegations that he had posted a shirtless picture of himself on the website Craigslist." This one as far as can be determined involved no sexual contact.
  • Slide 15: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, political affiliation not identified.
  • Slide 16: Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, not ID'd as a Republican. Conservative cynics would suggest that this non-identification is more than appropriate. This story is still developing, but at the moment we know that Schwarzenegger has admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock 10 years ago, and has separated from Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years.
  • Slide 17: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and French Socialist, identified as "a leading contender to be the Socialist Party's presidential nominee."

Not in the slide show but apparently mentioned in the TV coverage: John F. Kennedy. He would make 17, but apparently CNN doesn't believe he deserves the indignity of his own slideshow entry. I would suggest that it might be because there wasn't enough caption room for the complete list of his liaisons.

Geting back to Spitzer, CNN's self-serving protection of  its host and his party is obvious, disgraceful -- and all too typical.

Cross-posted at