Ethics Dunce: CNN

Eliot Spitzer, disgraced New York Governor, law-breaking lawyer, spectacularly unfaithful husband and hypocrite for the ages, is just perfect, in CNN’s eyes, for trenchant and probing news commentary. He will be co-hosting a new talking head show on the network, partnered with conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who as far as we know hasn’t operated any prostitution rings, not that it would matter to CNN.

Thus will the venerable cable news network adopt the strategy that has worked so well for Fox News and too many other media organizations: find infamous people who have thoroughly humiliated themselves and betrayed those who have trusted them—individuals who by all principles of justice and fairness deserve to be relegated to permanent obscurity until they have proven by hard work, good deeds and appropriate contrition, that they may again be worthy of trust—and give exposure, celebrity and employment to these anti-role models rather than to any of the large number of more deserving, talented, honest, reliable and admirable professionals who are available and capable.

This despicable practice, which has provided fame, riches, and unearned credibility to the likes of G.Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Sarah Palin, Wendy Williams, New Gingrich, Dick Morris and others, is an insult to the public and a direct rebuke of ethical principles. It says that notoriety is a greater virtue than integrity, and that fame, no matter how horribly attained, is a virtue in itself.

That may indeed be the state of the culture in the entertainment world, where CNN, truth be told, really dwells, but it is not—yet, at least—the entrenched cultural norm of the rest of the nation. Most of America still regards a crusading prosecutor, who gains higher office only to use his power to engage in, not merely illegal activity, but the same illegal activity he made his reputation prosecuting , as someone they wouldn’t trust to carry out the trash, much less an enlightened commentator on the national scene.

The sad truth is that Eliot Spitzer is getting his own CNN show not in spite of his misconduct, but because of it. Trust CNN to give us the news, when CNN promotes people whom we know cannot be trusted? Does that makes sense to you? It makes sense to CNN.

And that just proves that CNN cannot be trusted, either.

7 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: CNN

  1. Pingback: Ethics Dunce: CNN « Ethics Alarms « Ethics Find

  2. You’re too hard on both CNN and Spitzer. His conduct was reprehensible–not just the prostitution, but also his use of the State Police for a personal agenda. I sure wouldn’t vote for him. But everybody deserves a chance at redemption. It isn’t like we’d be trusting Spitzer’s behavior when we couldn’t see him. He’ll be in plain view. I say give him a second chance. He and Michael Vick. But not a third.

  3. Arrrgh. Could not disagree more, Bob. Again, he’s only being tapped for this because of his disgrace. Next for CNN: Blago, Helen Thomas, and Gen. McCrystal. He deserves redemption, but not at these salaries, when people who play by the rules get passed over. He can get redemption out of the spotlight.

  4. We agree on this one, Jack. I hope Spitzer does find redemption… as any Christian man should. However, the fact that Spitzer is essentially cashing in on his infamy is a testimonial to the fact that he’s basically unrepentant in the moral sense. That CNN would play up to this reveals their own moral bankruptcy.

  5. This is covered quite well by Scott Adams in Dilbert. They are valuable because they are famous. Another former governor (one who hadn’t been disgraced publicly) wouldn’t have the name recognition of Spitzer. It is just like if you make the decisions that lead to the death of astronauts or destroy prestigious and important tech companies, you are now famous and it doesn’t matter what you are famous for. We need a name for the phenomenon. Let’s call it the “Paris Hilton Principle”.

    • I think I like Nicole Richie for the honor even better. She’s famous for being a FRIEND of Paris Hilton, who is at least something of an heiress. Nicole is the not especially attractive, dumb as a brick, spoiled and talentless adopted daughter of a has-been pop singer. You can’t get much more trivial than that.

      And even SHE deserves a show on CNN more than Eliot Spitzer!

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