but what about the hookers?

Newsweek has just published a lengthy, ground-breaking article about Eliot Spitzer, perhaps erroneously placed under the heading “politics,” based on numerous probing and insightful personal interviews with crack reporter Jonathan Darman (son of Richard?), who really took an arresting but sadly no longer novel approach to such a story.  At least one of two possible journalistic hooks, you’d think, might explain Newsweek’s sudden but woefully belated interest in Spitzer:

A)  Spitzer was years ahead of anyone else in seeing the dangerous lawlessness of Wall Street, and despite being torpedoed in a very suspicious manner by an extraordinarily excessive Bush-led FBI right before the whole thing hit an iceberg, the former Governor and Attorney General of New York has a lot of important things to say about the financial crisis that has brought the country to its knees, and possibly some pretty interesting insights about who the chief culprits are, and what might be done now.


B)  Well, Spitzer was soooo smokin’ hot until this whole hooker thing came along, and then, wham, he was, like, so embarrassed to walk his dog and stuff on the upper east side, you know, ’cause it’s a lot like the Village where you just see everybody, but he’s about halfway through the publicist rehab thing, and even though he’s way getting bald, his wife forgives him, and he jogs, and now he even takes the purse dog out too, since he’s not so embarrassed as he used to be.  He still goes to restaurants off hours, though, even with Ed Koch, and he totally wouldn’t answer when I asked if he’s had therapy.

Alert Hag readers familiar with that and other fine publications will naturally suspect (B), of course, and be, rather discouragingly, right.  Minutiae like AIG, Joseph Bruno, Charles Grasso, and others are mentioned in passing as minor, nemesis-like characters in the larger, more revealing drama of hookers and dog-walking, retribution and redemption, the macho wheaten terrier vs. the sissy bichon frise’, sitting in the backs of restaurants, and strictly enforced self-flagellation, performed solely as theatre, of course, for the benefit of the media.  This timely and crucial progress report helpfully informs the eager reader that a chastened Eliot is doing a pretty good job, but it’s not done.  The end.

Page after excruciating page of cinematic, touchy-feely tripe about his childhood, family, daughters, etc, nothing about anything worthwhile.  Nothing.  I mean, honestly, Darman could have at least shoe-horned in a pertinent fact by calculating how many hookers the AIG bailout could have bought, perhaps with a graph of little hookers, represented by that mudflap icon, stretching up one side of the page.  Nope,  Too boring and math-y.  Has Maureen Dowd dipped into her plastic surgery fund to endow a Journalism School somewhere?  It certainly looks that way, especially in HDTV, and on the pages of Newsweek.

I wish it were still astonishing, rather than just more of the same, to encounter such prurient, gossipy nonsense, even as the economy crumbles due in no small part to miscreants with whom Spitzer was uniquely familiar, plopping out of the rear end of another MSM dead-ender.

Six pages, and so many dead trees, that we’ll never get back.


  1. sysprog says:

    JERRY: Well what are they all about, our new newspapers and our new bnewsmagazines and our new news radio shows and our new cable news networks?

    GEORGE: They’re all about nothing.

    JERRY: No stories?

    GEORGE: No, forget the story.

    JERRY: You’ve got to have stories.

    GEORGE: Who says you gotta have a story?

    JERRY: And they’re about nothing?

    GEORGE: Absolutely nothing.

    JERRY: So you’re saying, I go in to the media moguls, and tell them I got this idea for a national news media about nothing.

    GEORGE: Yeah. I think we really got something here.

    JERRY: What do we got?

    GEORGE: An idea.

    JERRY: What idea?

    GEORGE: An idea for the news biz.

    JERRY: I still don’t know what the idea is.

    GEORGE: It’s about nothing.

    JERRY: (Nodding) I think you may have something there.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s what it felt like to me. A pitch for a cheesy screenplay. “News” week? Sheesh.

      • rmp says:

        I agree. A couple of weeks ago, I read a story that was speculating that the WS-money barons had either set up Spitzer or just exposed him because he was coming at them too much. I could care less who he sleeps with although I understand why his wife would. New York and our nation would be better off if Spitzer had stayed with his Attorney General job. Maybe some of this robbery could have been limited. He wouldn’t have run for governor if they had passed the law I want passed that anyone holding a county attorney or higher position, would be banned from running for public office for ten years after leaving that office.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Obviously, the real story is why Spitzer got f*cked, in more ways than one. That story might sell magazines. It seems they forgot how to do that a while back.

          • Karen M says:

            I think this topic merits a special category and/or tags on your sidebar, ‘Hag.

            You have the knack for connecting the dots beween the prurient and the financial, and lord knows we need more of that kind of writing these days… especially, since it is indeed likely that Spitzer was set up. (…although he may have helped the case along a bit)

  2. cocktailhag says:

    I don’t know, Karen, “Nudes in the News” seems to be the place real scandals go, unreported, to die. But a category for the tabloidization of real news would probably fill up awfully fast. Barney Frank, anyone? What about, “Good Thing There was a Weinie Involved?”
    I have been thinking about this.

  3. William TImberman says:

    You’ve put your finger on it, dearest Hag. Berlin, 1928. Emerging from a haze of coal smoke and Protestant rectitude, creeping past the mutilées de guerre with our hands in our pockets, dodging the barrows full of money on their way to the bakery for the family’s daily loaf, we come upon…

    Das Kabarett. (Do we know this place? Ja, we know it. Somewhere way in the back, hidden from our view by a frenzy of coked-up Lindy-hoppers, Christopher Isherwood, an underage angel clinging to his arm, is scribbling something. The English are great connoisseurs of decadence, or so we’ve been told.)

    Gott sei Dank, we whisper to ourseves, for here is all that delicious licentiousness — the bare bosoms and Reichstag deputies in eyeshadow and mink, the winks and pinches anyone whose pfennigs are limited and stomach is rumbling could hope for. There is even gossip, sung from the stage in our own dialect, accompanied by a negerbanjo.

    Ein Dortmunder, bitte, we say to the barkeep, counting the bits of brass dredged from the pocket that doesn’t have a hole in it. Now, all we have to do is realax and watch the show, and wait for the Nazis to arrive.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s a very evocative image for me, WT… In my theatrical career, I became a big Kander and Ebb fan, but had never really understood the actual, frightening plot of “Cabaret.” I was in NY in Nov. 2001, and got cheap tickets, to my eventual chagrin. The excellent production, which starred Gina Gershon as Sally Bowles, was in the old Studio 54 space, and set up like a real cabaret…. When I heard “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” though, I felt more than a little sick to my stomach.

  4. William TImberman says:

    Yeah, the Berlin Stories are just about the best tour of the hell between the wars in Europe that I know of, all the more devastating for avoiding the political lunacy of the time.

    And yet…Isherwood made it to paradise after all, he and Hockney both. One of Hockney’s earliest photocollages is of Isherwood’s nest in Hollywood, a modest, sundrenched Arcadia far from the agonies he was born into.

    He spoke several times at UCSB, and I got to shake his hand once. He was an old geezer at the time, but he still had that elfin intelligence which I’ve always found strangely encouraging. If he could go through those awful decades without either looking away or being overwhelmed, then dammit, at least we know it’s possible,

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’ve chosen to dry myself out like a raisin in the sun and, with attendant pickling in booze, live beyond actuarial expectations, whether I, or anyone else, like it or not. That’ll show those do-gooders. We hags are nothing if not resilient.

  5. Casual Observer says:

    Stupendous, Ms. Hag.

  6. JoeMommaSan says:

    Sorry, but I have a really tough time working up much sympathy for Spitzer, given that he prosecuted other people for doing exactly what he did.

    Condemning him may not be politically expedient, but sometimes having principles isn’t convenient. That doesn’t mean you trash the principles – it means you live with the inconvenience.

    I have a lot more sympathy for Bill Clinton than for Spitzer. I don’t recall Clinton throwing anybody in jail for getting a blowjob.

    Maybe when he gets out of jail after paying the same price for his crime you or I would pay, (yeah, like that’s gonna happen) I’ll care what Spitzer has to say. Until then, he’s just another scumbag hypocrite. I’ve never been big on the “he may be an asshole, but he’s OUR asshole” philosophy. An asshole is an asshole.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. Why, then, a sympathetic, content-free six-pager about him? And why now? I’m not trying to rehabilitate Spitzer, who’s not only a corrupt hypocrite, but he’s funny looking, too. But I just can’t find any journalistic value in covering him, unless the more timely parts about politically convenient wiretapping and corporate crime are involved.

  7. OSR says:

    If you’re getting ready to loot the treasury, there is no way you can have someone like Spitzer around. What made Spitzer’s sandbagging particularly blatant was the DOJ’s failure to prosecute. Nevertheless, Spitzer’s whorehopping tendencies may well have saved him from a fiery car wreck.

  8. heru-ur says:

    It seem to me that you are dragging the name of fine working whores everywhere though the mud just to insult a slime-ball like Spitzer. Shame on you.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I completely agree, Heru. Blow jobs have a value which can be measured.; selling out the public interest for cash does seem more dishonest, and way more costly, by comparison. Blow jobs end, and the bill is settled. Not so much with Blackwater contracts.

  9. mikeinportc says:

    Spitzer was (is?) arrogant, and stepped on a lot of toes on the way up (and did his job) . That was what got him . The hypocrisy is tolerated if you go along to get along.
    RMP, Greg Palast suggested at the time, that the takedown was to stop him from going after the Wall Street pirates. Was that it?

    CH, re updated notepads (my email response disappeared into the toobz): Maybe..:

    1) Both faces on the same head?
    2) Both heads on the same body? (a la The Knights of Ni)
    3) Obama peeking out from behind a Bush mask?
    4) Add “Republican” to the check-boxes? ( I know – galling, but the more inclusive, the better)

    Give him more time? Nope! (IMHO) A lot of criticism right away probably has a better chance of inducing a course change.

    • rmp says:

      While no one so far has presented proof that WS got Spitzer, if Spitzer beleives that, he is not in a position to say so since he is in the process of humbly admitting his mistakes, so that he can resume some form or his previous life. When you are an aggressive states attorney, you make a lot of enemies. I think I remember that some form of eavesdropping got him. Is that right anyone?

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’m with you on that, Mike. Criticism ain’t treason, but let’s make sure it ain’t beanbag, either.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I agree. Having a president from my party is a lot different from having a President I can trust to do the right thing. I’m not drawing anything just yet (good thing I’m so lazy…) but the gimlet eye is now, sadly trained upon the Boss, because he’s seeming a little Bossy.