Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Fall of Eliot Spitzer, More Obama Versus Clinton, And On The Road With Chelsea Clinton Continued (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Happy new week! Usually about this time we'd be settling in for some news of all things political, but oh my, there's been some scandal today, so we're kicking things off with a story that involves...politics. Oh. Did I mention there was sex involved? Yeah, got your attention now, don't I? That's right, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has been linked to a prostitution ring. Ahem. Allegedly linked. And I am pissed. Damn you, Spitzer! The public finally, finally starts equating all the sexual deviants and cheats with republicans and now you have to go and make it bipartisan. And I liked you and your clean-it-up attitude. Sigh. I guess it's time to trot out my Bill Moyers quote again: This world is hard on believers.

So anyway, after Anderson Cooper gives us the gist of the story we're thrown to a Jason Carroll piece for the details. Today Spitzer gave the requisite wife-accompanied I've-been-bad speech, though didn't answer questions about the prostitution ring. Documents allege that Spitzer was "client number nine" of a prostitution ring that called itself "Emperors Club VIP." And they're not messing around when they say VIP because these trysts were quite pricey--we're talking thousands for one, ahem, meeting. Of course the irony in all of this is that Spitzer built his career on ethics and is known for being tough on corporate crime. His resume even includes--wait for it--busting up prostitution rings. Ah, I love the smell of busted hypocrisy.

Joining us for discussion on this we've got Jeffrey Toobin by phone, Harvard Law professor and former Spitzer teacher Alan Dershowitz, and Steve Fishman, contributing editor at "New York" magazine. (Correction noted: Argh. Well, this is what I get for confirming my names with the transcript. Originally I had Alan's last name posted as Chernoff, which is what the transcript has Anderson saying. But I don't think he did. I even thought it was weird when I typed that, seeing as CNN has a correspondent of the same name and my notes didn't match. Oh well.) Toobin is all kinds of boggled by what has gone down because he knew Spitzer, though not apparently as well as he thought. Alan totally downplays the case, saying Spitzer should just be charged with a class-B misdemeanor if anything because to him it sounds like a victimless crime. Whoa. Back up there, Mr. Assumption. First of all, I'm thinking Mrs. Spitzer would disagree with you on that. And do we know anything about the prostitute? No we do not. Yeah, those are big dollar signs, but it might not be all champagne and caviar for her. Or maybe it is; she's certainly not a Cambodian sex slave. The point here is this dude is talking about things he doesn't know. Steve thinks Spitzer needs to resign and then goes on to talk about the governor's "real marriage" and "real family." Was anyone under the impression they were fake?

"I think much too much is being made about this," says Alan, going on to note that in Europe something like this would hardly get any press. Um, what? Has he ever read the European press? Anderson brings up the hypocrisy angle and you can practically hear Allan go 'pish posh.' He points out great leaders that have been cheaters, but dude, they did not make cracking down on infidelity their life's goal. You can't rail against something in your public office and expect everyone to yawn when you do the same damn thing in your private life. Anderson then asks if everyone is making too much of this. Toobin pretty much says the law is the law. He also parrots the "victimless crime" meme, which is probably true in terms of the law, but no doubt stings poor Mrs. Spitzer. Alan then jumps back on the this-is-nothing wagon, stating we make too much out of sexual deviation. Well, call Eliza a prude, but I have a problem with it. Don't get me wrong, it's none of the public's business unless the law or hypocrisy is involved, but it still doesn't mean it's okay.

Moving on now to an Erica Hill piece on some of the governor's peers. Eliot Spitzer, come on down! You're the newest inductee into the Hall of Shame! Larry Craig, Bill Clinton, Marion Berry, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard...come meet your friends. No lie too big, no sexual situation too hilarious (wide stance, anyone?) . The hypocrisy factor is high in many of these cases and the cheating governor is just further confirmation of the theory that the more someone rails against something in their public life, the greater the chance they're doing it on the down low in their private life. You know what this means, don't you? Fred Phelps is the gayest man on the planet.

On now to the speculation segment of the show, and the point where 360 officially jumps the shark on this story. Sigh. They always do this. Anyway, for discussion we're joined by psychiatrist Gail Saltz and psychologist David Eigen. Okay, so Gail seems to think Spitzer was having these urges, so he made himself this really moral person to try to push them down, but in the end probably sabotaged himself. Or something. Whatever. I guess standard horniness doesn't factor in here. David sees it differently, blaming it on society not allowing men to express their emotions. Oh good lord. "Men need to be allowed to have feelings, be allowed to say, hey, you know, I had a bad day at the office and I need a hug," says David. Aw, see you all, he's really not a lying cheat, he just needs a hug! Does anyone actually believe this crap? Look, I'm all for letting the boys cry along with the girls, but there's a little thing called personal responsibility that David has conveniently left out of his theory. So anyway, as you can tell, I did not like this segment. I know this stuff probably does well in the ratings, but Anderson always says he doesn't like speculation and you can't have these kind of guests on without speculating. What else would they talk about?

Tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" also involves Spitzer. Man, this whole thing is a "WWTT?" So apparently when the governor went to book the Washington hotel he would put it under the name George Fox, who just so happens to be a campaign contributor. I'm sure he appreciated that.

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece on the latest between Clinton and Obama. Thank God. I was getting the shakes. Because, you know, it's been so long. Okay, so Clinton is again confusing me and making it hard for me to defend her. She's going around continuing to say how Obama isn't ready to be president, yet she's also hinting she'd pick him to be her running mate. I'll let you think about that logic contradiction for a second. Because, um, presumedly the vice president should also be ready to be president. So what's the what? Communications director Howard Wolfson tried to explain: "Senator Clinton will not choose any candidate who has not at the time of choosing past the national security threshold, period." Hm. So she expects Obama to pass that threshold before she choses? Is she going to enroll him in a class? Send him a copy of "National Security for Dummies"? For his part, Obama smacked down the Veep whispers, noting he was the front runner. The junior senator's campaign believes this is all just a strategy to siphon off voters by making them believe they can get both candidates if they vote for Clinton. Clever. Oh, there's some Florida and Michigan talk too, but la la la la la la la la...tell me when there's a decision.

Next up we have discussion with David Gergen, Lanny Davis for Clinton, and Jamal Simmons for Obama. Aw, man, not these guys again. You know what? These guys are so annoying I don't even want to blog this. Except The Gerg. We love our calm Gerg. After this segment we go back to the Spitzer case for a second because 360 just got some pictures. Of a hotel door. Literally, the pictures are of a door. Bwah! Wow. This is one of those times when our friends in the news didn't have time to have a good think about what they were doing before they threw crap on the air. But thanks for the laugh, guys.

Transitioning now to a Gary Tuchman piece on Chelsea Clinton that takes up where his last one left off. We learn that Chelsea is a regular person just like us. Well, if you live in New York and have a really good job at a hedge fund that is. Maybe not so much like us after all. But while campaigning, she's taking a leave of absence from that job. Now she stumps for her mom and stays on the lookout for those pesky reporters who want to ask questions. How dare they! As I said before, I understand her not wanting to tangle with the press, but man, the campaign is really intense about this. Poor Gary can only look at all those question-asking college kids with envy. I can pass for a college kid. If Chelsea comes here I will totally ask a question for him. And I'm sure there'd be no problems if the campaign found out about it. Because they have such a great relationship with the press. "Gary, next time you do this, I'd like to imagine you, like, dressing up as a student with, like, a little fake mustache and, you know, a little hat or something to try to ask some questions. See if you pass," says Anderson after the piece. Dude, what kind of students did Anderson go to school with? I must have missed all those mustached little-hat wearing men running around my campus.

Erica has the headlines tonight and we learn that Madonna was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, along with Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, the Ventures and the Dave Clark Five. Any other cases of massive deja vu out there? Nope, you're not crazy. It figures it would ring a bell. I mean, how often am I going to blog about the Dave Clark Five? Anyway, The Shot tonight is...well, it's a guy walking out of frame and a maybe tree landing where he just walked. "What? That was it? That was it? Are you kidding me?" says Anderson. Oh, fail! "Everyone is telling me this shot is great and then what, a big tree falls after him, falls down where he was?" he continues. Ooh, it's like when I read "The Winter of Our Discontent" in high school. I was still waiting for something exciting to happen when I finished the book. Damn you, Steinbeck! Well, I know Anderson's all embarrassed, but that's the most I've laughed during The Shot in, uh, ever. So I say it's a win!

This isn't really a complaint in regards to the Spitzer story because I think it's important, but it's worth noting that sometimes when something locally happens in New York, the people that work for national stations tend to elevate it to a national level because it's important to them. Many of the people who live in what is lovingly referred to as flyover country, had never heard of Eliot Spitzer. Again, I think it's an important story, but I was a little taken aback at the intensity of the coverage everywhere. Anyway, that'll do it. The show was pretty good. I think I may have to lower my grading curve at some point because I've kind of lost my base. But for now...B


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