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Eliot Spitzer On CNN -- Can Bernie Madoff Be Far Behind?

4 years ago
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As a New York City resident for almost three decades, there is only one vote for state and local office that fills me with daily remorse and even shame. It was my November 2006 decision to pull the lever on an old-fashioned voting machine for Democratic gubernatorial candidate and alleged reformer Eliot Spitzer.
We all know how that played out for Client No. 9 of the Emperor's Club prostitution service. Sixteen months later, with his distraught wife Silda at his side, Spitzer resigned as governor, reading a prepared statement that began with these words, "In the past few days, I've begun to atone for my private failings . . ."
We also know how long those days of atonement lasted – about long enough type "I'm so-o-o-o-o sorry and I'm already plotting a comeback" on his BlackBerry. These days, I probably feel more remorse and shame for voting for him than Spitzer feels about his staggering hypocrisy in prosecuting prostitution rings as New York attorney general and patronizing them as governor. Spitzer's downfall was less about sex than about the betrayal of public trust.
Now CNN is pairing Spitzer in prime time with conservative newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker, matching a Pulitzer Prize winner with a Prostitution Prize winner. Nothing cable TV news does these days in its bottom-feeding race for ratings surprises me. Probably at this very moment some business channel is negotiating with the federal prison authorities to allow a certain convicted Ponzi schemer to host a show direct from his cell called "Investing the Bernie Way."
Just so there is no ambiguity: I would sooner tune into Al Jazeera in Arabic or a highlight reel of 1950s TV test patterns than to watch Eliot Spitzer pontificate on CNN. As the defrocked governor contemplates his political future, I should also stress that I would not vote for Spitzer again for any public office even if his only competition on the ballot were Boss Tweed and John Edwards.
My ire at Spitzer is partly triggered by the embarrassing record of his hand-picked successor, David Paterson, an accidental governor who put the "hap" in "hapless." Whether helping his former driver (now a trusted aide) try to wiggle out of an accusation of domestic violence or presiding passively throughout a budget crisis, Paterson has made New York almost as much of a state-government laughingstock as Illinois (Rod Blagojevich) or South Carolina (Mark Sanford). Spitzer's legacy: A new poll found that 83 percent of New York voters label the state government as "dysfunctional."
But Spitzer's larger sin (and I do not use this word accidentally) lies in his zealous obsession with instant rehabilitation. If public humiliation becomes a temporary inconvenience that quickly morphs into a prime-time TV slot, it undermines all social sanctions against bad behavior. Even Richard Nixon grudgingly recognized that a decent society requires a decent interval before a disgraced political leader can dream of resurrection. Compared to Spitzer, Nixon was a slacker in the comeback department.
Maybe it is the permissive era in which we live or maybe it is true that socially well-connected Democrats get more second chances, but the reality is that Spitzer has been blessed with an army of well-connected enablers. The editors of Slate and Newsweek sought him out as a commentator while MSNBC and CNN provided him with on-air pundit training.
The Spitzer fan club (which, if there were any justice in this world, would be meeting in a dank basement in Queens) can get gooey. As feminist author Naomi Wolf told the New York Observer in a cloying e-mail: "I think Spitzer is incredibly smart, he was a brave and devoted public servant, and I think we are lucky to have his contribution in any arena he chooses to engage."
I may be prissy in my old-fashioned faith that penance is mightier than the sword, or (in Spitzer's case), the swordsman. After he was caught up in a 1960s call-girl scandal, British politician John Profumo devoted the remainder of his life to quiet charitable good works in London. In today's forgive-all culture, Profumo would have been rewarded with his own reality TV show featuring him working incognito in a settlement house.
Maybe the best hope for those of us who still believe in societal retribution is that Eliot Spitzer has just signed on with CNN, the after-thought network. Nothing else CNN has tried in prime time has worked, so why should we immediately assume that cynically embracing Spitzer represents the path to ratings gold? Of course, if Spitzer becomes the Glenn Beck of the left (a truly chilling notion), then ambitious politicians all over America may start vying to become Client No. 10.

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35 Comments

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rojimowi

Why would Kathleen Parker lower herself to this "Slime's" standards. My impression of her is she has/had some some level of dignity and integrity. Oh well $$$$$$$$$$$$. Money talks. Hopefully they won't be in the same studio. If they are, CNN should have a decontamination shower on site.

Why don't these people just go away and stay away.

June 25 2010 at 2:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mirage

I vote "NO" for Spitzer on CNN.
I am not ready for his comeback or for Tiger Woods.
They both need more time in the doghouse.

June 24 2010 at 11:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
wasabimon

AS A GOVERNOR HE DID NOTHING WRONG----AS A HUSBAND HE DID WRONG.JUST LIKE CLINTON-----PRIVATE SEX LIFE IS JUST THAT--AS LONG AS JOB WAS NOT INVOLVED IN ANYWAY---MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS-----

June 24 2010 at 11:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wasabimon's comment
lhoward914

I guess solicitation of a prostitute and frequenting a prostitute are legal in the State of New York? Commission and conviction of a crime should be the end of any and every political career. Guys like you or me would spend at least a day behind bars along with a healthy fine. State Governors make some pretty decisions. Do you want a governor making decisions when they have someone interested in that decision whispering in their ear that they make the decision the way that person wants or the secret gets aired?

June 25 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
etripsha

It seems strange after all these years since 1990, to say, "Goodbye, CNN!"

CNN has made some incredibly stupid firings: Flip Spiceland, Daryn Kagan, Bill Hemmer, Leon Harris and Stuart Varney. The dumbness of their firings have been exceeded only by their hires, too often promoting the "cult of celebrity" as typified by Anderson Cooper.

The hiring of Spitzer goes beyond the pale, for he has absolutely NO experience in journalism!

June 24 2010 at 11:03 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
FRED HUGHES

Walter Shapiro may not like spitzer but, so what.You don't have to watch him or listen to him. I know that I won't watch him but for very different reasons. There is nothing that CNN can put on the air during prime time that would take me away from good shows that come on during that time of night. The article Shapiro has written makes him seem overly concerned. Isn't he aware of the many commentators on cable news programs. Most of their commentators should never point fingers at anyone. They are all full of it.

June 24 2010 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gtttrades

I wish Spitzer was appointed head of the SEC. Wall Street hates him because he was blowing the whistle on their crooked scemes. You see the crap they have been pulling since he is no longer AG.

June 24 2010 at 10:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
billkulikdc

The standards of decency are inconsistent in the media, depending upon whom the individual inquestion has tread. Why is Eliot Spitzer punishment greater than Bill Clinton or Ed Kennedy? Because he nailed the white collar thieves, such as Bernie Madoff.

June 24 2010 at 9:44 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
welcome Annie

Eliot Spitzer is not in the same category as Madoff.Spitzer got caughtup in a sexual affair that has existed since time and with his intelligence and smarts,I don't think he saw it coming to destroy his career.As a Californian ,He will do a great job on CNN and even New york with his legal skills and being a devoted public servant.We need to stop slaying a person over the oldest profession and its selling or seducing married men like its a sports.We should have laws on the books if aa woman goes near a married man with children she should get a sign on her back for 60 days "I have low self esteem and must steal another woman's mate and too lazy to look for a mate.I rather destroy children's home.Also, they need one year in the slammer for bad behavior and stop getting rewarded for bad behavior.

June 24 2010 at 9:40 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
mopardi

Another reason I don't watch CNN. I doubt this guy will bring them any ratings!

June 24 2010 at 9:22 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Sonja Dunbar

I'm disgusted that CNN would hire Spitzer and I will NOT be watching his show. It might be something Fox would stoop to, but I certainly didn't think CNN would bring in someone with such a sorted history. It's a sad time when the more notorious you are, the more money you can make which certainly is a bad example for young people. If Ted Turner were running CNN, I'm sure that wouldn't have happened.

June 24 2010 at 9:20 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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