The stunning revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hiding a love child for a decade has media pundits pondering, “What was the biggest sex scandal to snare an American politician? There’s Bill and Monica, obviously, and Mark Sanford’s South American soul mate; Sen. Ensign’s inter-staff incest and the probable winner after Clinton, John Edwards’ despicable betrayal of his dying wife. It’s a tough field, made tougher by the presence of one more formidable contender: Eliot Spitzer, who lost his job as Governor of New York after being caught playing in a prostitution ring, the exact same kind of criminal enterprise that he busted up as a crusading prosecutor on the way to the State House.
Yesterday, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux did a feature story on notable political sex scandals, and mentioned all of these and more, with one exception. Can you guess which? Here’s a hint: the author of the scandal currently stars as one of CNN’s political commentators.
Yes, Eliot Spitzer’s sexual meltdown didn’t make the cut of CNN’s scandal review. What does this tell us about CNN, Malveau, and everyone involved–producers, writers, executives…Spitzer?— in the feature vetting process?
- They have no integrity. If CNN is going to do a story, the fact that one of its own employees is a necessary component to it cannot change the network’s handling of the topic one iota. Indeed, the fact that a CNN employee might be embarrassed cannot influence the decision to do the story, either. This was the equivalent of photo-shopping history. Eliot Spitzer is permanently in the front row of the group portrait of politicians brought down by their inability to keep their zippers up, and CNN cut him out for its own convenience and his comfort.
- They are untrustworthy. If the public cannot trust the network to give proper exposure to historical events that are detrimental to the reputations of its employees, then it cannot be trusted to be fair and unbiased in its coverage of issues that its management and employees care about. A journalistic enterprise must commit to making independent judgments, unfiltered by bias, about what its readers or viewers need to know, and be committed to the truth.
- They are dishonest. By omitting Spitzer, Malveaux lied by omission. If former President Clinton was a CNN commentator, would she do a story about presidential impeachments and only include Andrew Johnson? Well, maybe she would. She and her network are apparently capable of leaving out uncomfortable facts, and we can only scpeculate on what makes them uncomfortable.
- CNN shouldn’t have hired Spitzer in the first place, if they are ashamed of his record, as they should be.
But we knew that, didn’t we?