Smitten by "Spitzerism"

Riding a wave of lawsuits against businesses, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is running for governor of New York in 2006 , and the New York Times Sunday Magazine delivers a one-sided story in his favor ("Spitzerism -- Is A Prosecutor's Zeal What The Democrats Need?") by Noam Scheiber, a senior editor at the liberal New Republic magazine.

The Times likes Spitzer, so it was only natural for them to go to Scheiber, who really, really likes Spitzer, to the point of applauding the idea last December of Spitzer intimidating companies into campaign donations:

"Another interesting question: Do all the financial services firms Spitzer has hounded as attorney general get on board and pony up money, worried that there'll be hell to pay if they don't? (Or at least to try to buy themselves some much-needed goodwill?) Or do they hold all the investigations against Spitzer and hope for the best with Pataki? My guess is that, with Pataki looking iffy, and Spitzer in a potentially even more powerful position to hurt them as governor, they'll suck it up and get on the bandwagon. If that's the case, Spitzer's Wall Street crusades may turn out to have been the shrewdest political move in the history of New York politics."

Scheiber's article for the Times also makes almost unanimously pro-Spitzer points, insisting the anti-business crusader is really a populist centrist: "Spitzer tends to see wrongdoing as the product of both moral failing and lousy incentives. In Spitzer's mind, the reason the power plants produced too much pollution wasn't that their owners were evil; it was that neither they nor their customers were forced to pay the cost of polluting. Spitzer wasn't looking to put the utility companies out of business. He just wanted the loophole closed."

The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti took a less sanguine view of Spitzer's tactics earlier this year, making points the Times ignored: "And as Spitzer's investigations grew in number, so did his critics. He was reckless, said some. He was undemocratic, said others. Those in the Reckless Camp argued that wherever Spitzer's eye turned, economic ruin followed....Those in the Undemocratic Camp argued that Spitzer had become business's 'judge, jury, and executioner.'"

The Free Market Project has more on Spitzer's "lawsuit-happy" tactics, which are ignored in the Times' fawning article.

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

New York Times
Clay Waters's picture