Most News Reports Omit Spitzer's Dem Affiliation; AP Waits 14 Paragraphs, Notes He Was 'Never Charged' in 2008

Yesterday, Matt Balan at NewsBusters noted that only two of the Big 3 broadcast news networks covered "the assault allegation against former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer that emerged over the weekend," and that only NBC mentioned Spitzer's Democratic Party affiliation.

A broader look at news coverage of Spitzer's latest encounter with law enforcement indicates that omitting his party affiliation has been a quite common practice, and that those noting it have delayed its recognition until later paragraphs in their reports.

A Google News search done shortly after midnight on ["Eliot Spitzer" hotel] (typed as indicated between brackets, sorted by date, hiding duplicates) returned 189 items dated February 13 or later. Adding the word "Democrat" to that search reduced the number of results to 48.

Many of the reports which identify Spitzer's Democratic Party affiliation saved it until their final paragraph or two. One typical instance is at CBS's New York City affiliate, which wrapped its report with this final sentence:

He tried to make a political comeback in 2013 but lost in the Democratic primary for New York City Comptroller.

The related video at the link does not mention of Spitzer's party ID.

Only two of the five stories carried at the web site of the New York Times since the latest incident became public knowledge mention Spitzer's party affiliation. Among the ones not doing so are a dispatch from Reuters and a brief timeline from the Associated Press.

A longer AP story present at the Times and at the wire service's main national site waited 14 paragraphs to tell readers that "Spitzer, a Democrat, resigned two years into his term in 2008 amid revelations that he had sex with prostitutes."

The final paragraph at Colleen Long's AP story will give many readers the impression that Spitzer might have been an innocent victim in 2008:

He was identified as a patron of a high-priced prostitution ring during a federal investigation, but he was never charged. His attempt at a political comeback failed when he lost his bid to become New York City's comptroller in 2013.

Why was he "never charged"?

Here's why, per the Washington Post on November 7, 2008, reporting on a decision conveniently not revealed until two days after that year's presidential election (bolds are mine):

Spitzer Won't Face Charges for Scandal

Former New York governor Eliot L. Spitzer will not face criminal charges for his role in a prostitution scandal that drove him from office this year, prosecutors announced yesterday.

Investigators for the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service uncovered no evidence that Spitzer had misused public or campaign money to pay women employed by the Emperors Club VIP, a high-priced New York prostitution ring.

Justice Department guidelines disfavor indictments against clients of prostitution rings, even those who transport women across state lines to have sex in violation of the Mann Act. Spitzer acknowledged making payments to the service, which amounted to "acceptance of responsibility for his conduct," said Michael J. Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Colleen Long could easily have written that "He admitted to being a paid patron of a high-priced prostitution ring," removing any doubt that he committed the illegal acts which led to his exit from political office. Instead, she made it appear, especially to readers not familiar with the story, as if he might have been railroaded. He wasn't. He got off easy.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.