Examiner Editorial: Disgraced Spitzer suspect choice for MSNBC 

It’s not at all unusual for people in politics to become talking heads on television news and opinion shows (or, occasionally, vice versa).

George Stephanopoulos, for example, was a top Democratic flack on Capitol Hill and in the Clinton White House before jumping to ABC News. Similarly, Pete Williams was the spokesman for then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during the George H.W. Bush administration before joining the NBC news team. Then, there was the much-beloved duo of Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” and Fox News’ Tony Snow, who also twirled the revolving doors between government and media, with the former leaving Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the latter joining the George W. Bush White House.

Now, along comes disgraced former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, who appears headed for a slot on MSNBC, which had a recent parting of ways with Campbell Brown, a respected professional journalist.

Handing Spitzer a chair in front of the big red light is a controversial choice, even for a cable television operation that must feed the news and opinion monster 24/7.

The reason is simple: Where no ethical questions hung over the heads of politicos-turned-newsies like Russert and Williams, Spitzer is a walking catalog of political-ethics issues.

Just his conduct with regard to the issue of transparency should disqualify Spitzer from consideration by a news organization.

How can Spitzer demand a full accounting from guests appearing on his show when transparency was scarce concerning his campaign donations.

Only months before his political career fell apart in the arms of an estimated $100,000 worth of prostitutes provided to him by the infamous Empress Club escort service, this newspaper asked Spitzer for an accounting of more than $124,000 in suspect campaign contributions he said had either been returned or given to charity.

When The Examiner found $42,555 in unreturned contributions from the same suspect sources that Spitzer received in 2001 and 2002 while New York’s attorney general, we asked why he kept that money. No explanation was ever offered by Spitzer or his official spokesman.

Both the $124,000 he returned or donated to charity and the unreturned $42,555 came to Spitzer from partners and associates of the infamous New York-based Milberg-Weiss class-action trial lawyer firm between 2003 and 2005.

Four senior partners of Milberg-Weiss were subsequently convicted of multiple felonies in a conspiracy to defraud justice by paying an estimated $11.4 million in illegal kickbacks to plaintiffs in at least 180 class-action lawsuits between 1981 and 2005.

If the 2003-05 donations were dirty, why weren’t those from the same source in 2001 and 2002? MSNBC might want to ask Spitzer about that before making any final decisions.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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