The rumors were true. CNN is without shame. They are hiring disgraced Democrat Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the hypocritical “Sheriff of Wall Street” who hired high-priced hookers, as a talk-show host. Spitzer’s co-host will be pseudo-conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who won the Pulitzer Prize for being a conservative-basher. CNN’s press release on their Political Ticker said “she describes herself as a ‘rational’ conservative.”
That’s a nice way to endear her to the “irrational” conservatives who might have considered watching this show. It's set up to be Liberal Lion vs. 'Rational' Lamb.
Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., the man who canceled the long-running left-right show “Crossfire” after Jon Stewart lamented they needed to "stop, stop, stop, stop, hurting America," has reinvented the format as just the latest liberal-media attempt to rehabilitate Spitzer’s career.
Klein said in a statement: "Eliot and Kathleen are beholden to no vested interest - in fact, quite the opposite: they are renowned for taking on the most powerful targets and most important causes." They're actually spinning this "unbeholden" Spitzer as a moralist and guardian of the public interest.
CNN’s press release suggested that little prostitution thing is hardly a disqualification for such a “well-respected political mind.” They even re-used the ridiculous “Sheriff” moniker:
Spitzer, a Democrat who resigned as governor in March 2008 after acknowledging visiting a prostitute, is a well respected political mind and a take-no-prisoners prosecutor who has been often referred to as the "Sheriff of Wall Street."
Parker was required by her new job to kiss Spitzer’s ring: “I'm thrilled by the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter to me -- and that aren't heard often enough on television -- in a conversation with one of the nation's most brilliant, fearless and original thinkers. With Eliot Spitzer as my co-host, Wall Street and Main Street will finally meet. It can't possibly be boring."
Last year, Parker also felt pain for Spitzer in a column knocking David Letterman for his nasty Sarah Palin joke (ever the balancer):
Everyone knows by now that Letterman made fun of the Palin family's trip to New York last week. He quipped that Palin's daughter got "knocked up" by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning. Unable to stop his slide into the gutter, he said the hardest part of the visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter.
How will this show cover the next politican sex scandal? Or are they hoping CNN will be the "hot corner" on those stories now?
James Poniewozik at Time has the first boos from the media establishment:
The first is not that Spitzer has been chosen despite his sex scandal. It's that he seemingly was chosen, at least in part, because of the scandal: that is, because of the short-term blast of notoriety and buzz that he will bring with him. Now, for all I know, CNN genuinely sees special and distinctive broadcasting talent in Spitzer, but if they do, it's eluded me in his long recent history as commentator and guest-host on CNN and MSNBC, where—to my ears, anyway—he comes off grating and supercilious. If he didn't come with the name and the headlines, I have a hard time believing he'd been chosen on the basis of ability alone.
(As for Parker, I'm not familiar enough to say whether she's a good choice or not, though her résumé is strong enough. But I do have to guess that—call me cynical—given Spitzer's history it would have been hard for CNN to even consider pairing him with a man. Not that the underrepresentation of men in cable news is exactly a problem, but the idea that pairing Spitzer with a woman makes his choice any better is just icky.)
UPDATE: I should have noticed (as Michael Calderone did) that the formal press release (excerpted in Poniewozik's blog) completely omitted Spitzer's employment of prostitutes.