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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eliot Spitzer – a CNN Ratings Stunt or Hubris Run Amok?

Tomorrow is the debut of CNN’s latest attempt to resuscitate its flat-line ratings. This most recent programming attempt is heralded as a public-affairs style show that will feature the fallen former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, discussing issues of the day with Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.
In a recent interview with Parade magazine Spitzer described the new show as, “…an opportunity to create persuasive arguments about the direction we should move in as a society.”
Huh? Persuasive arguments from him about the direction we should move in as a society…really?  As a refresher, Spitzer resigned from office after it became public that this former public prosecutor was paying high-price prostitutes for sex.

Despite that, I want help him out with some possible topics for his new show.
Here’s a suggestion for Spitzer to consider regarding one societal issue that should be addressed. Since two-thirds of marriages end in divorce, how about supporting the concept of families, marriage and honoring your own marriage vows?  That seems to be a pretty good direction for society in general.
Or how about, upholding anti-prostitution laws that still exist in most of the states in this country? That might be a good societal goal.
Or maybe championing against the hypocrisy of elected officials who say one thing publically yet do another personally, like…oh I don’t know…maybe holding district attorneys responsible who rabidly prosecute the solicitation of prostitutes and objectification of women, yet rabidly pursue their own pay-for-sex appetites? I like the idea of reducing hypocrisy amongst all elected officials – regardless of party affiliation – sounds like a worthwhile directional goal.
Here’s another. What about upholding a standard of public trust for those offices of public service to which we willingly yield our trust – offices such as law enforcement; the military; the clergy and elected officials (maybe even for governors)??
What boggles me is what makes Spitzer qualified to be the arbitrator of societal relevance and the self-appointed GPS for where we need to go as a nation? Seems like an acute case of hubris run amok, and isn’t that at the core of his self-induced implosion from power? Stunningly, Sptizer admits that he owned a novelty T-shirt that he got years ago which read “Hubris is Terminal,” which he used to quote to Wall Street executives he nabbed.
The strange thing is that political pundits and Spitzer apologists always tout his brilliance and persuasive rhetoric as his greatest strengths which qualify him for leadership.  Interestingly, those were the same character traits that were attributed to both Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones by their supporters.  All I’m saying by those comparatives is that brains and snappy responses do not automatically qualify anybody to lead. Specifically, the missing variable in the case of Spitzer is a compassionate heart.
Tangentially, the thing that bothers me most about such bi-partisan political instances of adultery – and there’ve been more than a quorum of those on both sides of the political aisles in recent years – is the complete and conscious betrayal that they commit against their immediate family members.
When elected officials commit their betrayals against their loved ones, it makes we question whether or not they give a rip at all about the complete strangers who’ve elected them. When those officials make their betrayal decisions against their, it makes me question their ability to make decisions on my behalf.
Sometimes through the love, compassion and forgiveness surrendered by those devastated as a result of such reckless betrayal – healing can happen, sometimes it doesn’t. Betrayal is that bad.  No wonder the lowest ring of hell in Dante’s classic poem Inferno is reserved for betrayers.
Shouldn’t we demand better from our elected public servants? Especially, since it’s obviously unrealistic to set such lofty standards for the hosts of public affairs talk shows on cable TV.


  1. It is known to all that CNN is taking beatings in the ratings, has to revamp and come out with new and innovative programs.

  2. I had the same reaction when I saw the advertisement for the CNN program. It will be interesting to see how long a run the show will have. Personally, I am not interested in the thoughts of someone who has shown such a lack of character; if the blind lead the blind, then we all fall into the ditch!. I mean, shouldn't we seek out people with authentic lives, who exhibit true wisdom to be the folks we intentionally listen to? I am sure that there are plenty of people that could fill the bill of intelligence coupled with character, and insight. I don't know what CNN was thinking!! At any rate, I am not a CNN viewer, overall.

  3. @Fitness, your comment is valid and noted. When will networks learn that these types of stunts simply don't work? Thanks for taking the time to post!

  4. @Dona, great points - especially regarding the "blind leading the blind." Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective here!