COMMENTS: Spitzer Denouement, Foreign Blackout

The Eliot Spitzer sex scandal reached its climax as he resigned as Governor of New York. His reputed trysts with call girls were never specifically acknowledged--he referred to "my private failings" in his three-minute public statement--as Spitzer was Story of the Day for the third straight day, chosen as the unanimous lead on all three networks. Also for the third straight day ABC and NBC had substitute anchors. Ann Curry, again, was in the chair for NBC. ABC used George Stephanopoulos. Missing from the networks' news agenda was international coverage. Only one report had, even vaguely, an overseas angle.

For Byron Pitts on CBS the striking thing about the Governor's fall was that he was "forced to accept what he dished out for years--public humiliation." On NBC, Mike Taibbi called it "just a sad end to this part of the story and to a political career." When he said "this part of the story" he was referring to the statement by Michael Garcia, the federal prosecutor in the Emperor's Club VIP case, the escort service whose 22-year-old Jersey Girl hooker, an aspiring chanteuse, Spitzer apparently hired. "He made no agreement to forgo any criminal charges against him in exchange for his resignation." ABC's Stephanopoulos asked Brian Ross whether prosecutors were playing hardball: "They absolutely are."

ABC's Ross pointed out that the moneylaundering rap that Spitzer may face were "laws he once championed." CBS had Nancy Cordes file a follow up on the software banks use to analyze transactions so they can generate Suspicious Activity Reports. Each year the Internal Revenue Service is alerted a million or so times. Banks put new customers, international customers and those with past suspicious patterns under special scrutiny as well as PEPs--Politically Exposed Persons. "As a Governor and former Attorney General, Spitzer would have known better than anyone that he was a PEP and therefore his financial dealings would be an open book."


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