Breaking News: End Of An Era

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reports from Albany confirm that Eliot Spitzer will resign as Governor of New York. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein brings us the latest news. And Adam Davidson, NPR's business and economics reporter, helps follow the money trail. Plus, Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice reflects on Spitzer's rise and fall. Plus, Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in political science at Yale, a writer on American civic culture and politics, blogs at TPM Café, looks at the federal prosecutor's decision to investigate Spitzer's finances.


Wayne Barrett, Andrea Bernstein, Adam Davidson and Jim Sleeper

Comments [64]

suzan Hoffman from New York City

My theory that Mr. Spitzer took such a risk because he initially had a fantasy that Mr. Bruno uses this flights back and forth because he is using call girls in different places. Let's make it short, he wanted to know if Mr. Bruno uses this kind of places, or that he wanted to get connected to this prostitute to plot a black mail on Mr. Bruno.

When somebody does criminality for themselves sake alone then he tries to reveal as much as possible, but if he does it for a reason to bring someone to justice or to bring down someone, than he usually feels more careless, and takes greater risks.

Mar. 12 2008 05:05 PM
DB from NJ

Spitzer comes across as totally arrogant and self-centered. The other day he gives the citizens of his state one minute of his time, makes a vague apology that doesn't even mention what he's apologizing for, and walks out with no further explanation.

His resignation statement today wasn't much better. He didn't mention anything about the hookers or what he had done wrong, and continued to frame his behavior as merely a "private failing." Spitzer is the epitome of a public official who doesn't "get it"--it seems he broke several laws, including at least one felony (shifting money around to conceal its purpose), but he makes it sounds as if he did nothing more than rent a porn video.

I feel bad for his wife and daughters, but I don't have a shred of sympathy for this pompous, self-righteous sleazebag. He left the State and his own lt. gov. twisting in the wind for more than 36 hours while he hunkered down in his apt. trying to work out a deal to get himself off the hook. He seems to care about no one but himself... not his constituents, and certainly not his wife and three teenage daughters (nice role model for them!)

I hope wife dumps him. Maybe he'll finally learn the difference between "right and wrong," as he's always lectured other people about. What a pathetic piece of pond scum.

The good news is that David Paterson seems like a smart, talented, caring, and effective public servant.

Mar. 12 2008 12:36 PM
er from NYC

I gotta say that I had to turn WNYC off and tune into NY1, where the talk was about the political implications of NY and where we go from here. I don't need to hear about men's sexual proclivities, as if all men think the same. Nor do I think all women have the same thoughts on or reaction to this sex scandal.

Maybe you think prostitution's okay; maybe not. Who cares? Clearly Gov. Spitzer broke the law and has let down his constituency. So let's discuss the real issues involved here -- what this means for NY, what are Patterson's accomplishments (not wow - he's blind!), how this affects the Dem primary. Why meander through salaciousness and try to unite disparate gender psychologies?

This week's coverage on the governor's misdeeds has this longtime public radio supporter rethinking this year's public radio contribution. No joke. Get it together, WNYC. Jeez.

Mar. 12 2008 12:36 PM

I see Spitzer has hired one of the top (and most expensive) litigators in the country, Paul, Weiss' Ted Wells.

In high-profile cases, Wells has represented Scooter Libby, Merck and Philip Morris (in the 7-year Dept. of Justice case).

Spitzer's well-represented for any legal troubles ahead--as long as the money holds out.

Mar. 12 2008 12:22 PM
Ian from Brooklyn

Brian Lehrer show responds: This comment was removed because it did not conform to the rules for posting on this thread. Please try and keep your posts on topic and civil.

Mar. 12 2008 11:56 AM
Disheartened from West Side

So many issues this raises. First, a john faces the consequences of breaking the law, not just a prostitute; Second, "suspicious" activity at a bank seems awfully vague to begin a probe into someone's activities; What's going to happen with the Senate, will it now remain forever in Republican control?; and, does his public morality mean that his fall is that much greater?

Lastly, to Brian: Be careful calling Mrs. Spitzer a victim. His actions surely affect her, and the consequences of them will reverberate for years in their marriage. Yet his actions betray his own psychology, not hers.

Mar. 12 2008 11:56 AM
leonardo aponte from new york

the only person victimizing the wife of the governor is the media- sadly this time that includes WNYC- prostitutes are not a big deal -male or female- they offer a service that is about it... sex we all do it & the ones that don't wish they did. can we please let this go I beg you..... other wise I will be forced to turn you off

Mar. 12 2008 11:54 AM
Christopher Hatton from Hoboken, NJ

Spitzer wasn't in favor of legalizing prostitution, or decriminalizing it, or even reforming the laws against it. He was an aggressive enforcer of all laws, a piler-on of additional charges whenever possible, and in general a self-righteous arrogant SOB.

I see him as another rich guy who believes in "one law for me, one for the rest of you." His speech did seem sincere, but after all, he got caught.

OK, to be a little more charitable, his contrition seemed genuine, and he was emphatic about leaving public life. If he sticks to that, he'll gradually regain my respect.

All that said, the Spitzer death spiral is a tragedy. There was such hope at the beginning! (Of course I couldn't vote for him, but I would have, enthusiastically, if I'd been living across the river in NY.)

Mar. 12 2008 11:52 AM

The best news in Harlem & New York? David Patterson, the GOVERNOR of NEW YORK lives in a Rent Stabilized Apartment at Lenox Terrace in Harlem! Woo Hoo. The Governor of New York has a rent stabilized apartment, landlord is Olnick Organization on 59th St. Gotta love it! Rent Stabilized? Have no fear going forward, a benefactor of it is our GOVERNOR! Patterson will always have his rent stabilized apartment at Lenox Terrace, as has and does Congressman Charles Rangel to this day, and former Manhattan B President Percy Sutton.

Mar. 12 2008 11:51 AM
Joe L. from Brooklyn

Brian Lehrer show responds: This comment was removed because it did not conform to the rules for posting on this thread. Please try and keep your posts on topic and civil.

Mar. 12 2008 11:49 AM
hjs from 11211

makes me sick too. the bridges are falling and this is what the feds spend our money & their time on.

Mar. 12 2008 11:43 AM
ELLIN S. RIND from New Rochelle, NY

You ask what Elliot Spitzer will do now that he's become "a punchline." What did Bill Clinton do? He's fine, and even Monica Lewinsky (speaking of punch lines) is fine. Spitzer will recover publicly. What happens to his wife and daughters, I can't imagine. However, I can't imagine being Chelsea either.

Mar. 12 2008 11:42 AM
leonardo aponte from new york

for the love of god... who cares, sorry to bring this up but we have a multimillion dollar porn industry, morals went out the door a long time ago. who cares if people goes to prostitutes or not. puritans are getting the best out of this country... and why is everybody having so much fun with this rather mining-less situation, is it me or we are at war with 2 countries...

I guess the question is will NPR save the day and at least come up with a new angle on this or will the go the scandal driven..."journalism" we will find out

Mar. 12 2008 11:42 AM
whoindatgarden from NYC

In the Puritanical Twenty first Century that we live in I guess you can get away with Taking a country into a wrong unjustified war and have many killed who may not have died for a just cause while you go down for possibly having used money to procure sexual services and possibly tried to hide those financial details. Wow we truly live in great times.

Mar. 12 2008 11:39 AM
Tracy from New Rochelle

I'm very disappointed that Spitzer is resigning. Unless he stole the money for the prostitutes, his qualifications to govern are unaffected. And we really needed him in Albany, to fight against those who are in fact stealing money from taxpayers and (Wall Street's) customers.

Mar. 12 2008 11:36 AM
Sharon from nyc

Sorry, that's "Scandalous Governors Monthly"

Mar. 12 2008 11:29 AM
Charnisse from nyc

That's "Governors Who Risk Total Scandal" magazine, FYI

Mar. 12 2008 11:28 AM

I would be interested in hearing Brian and his fantastic guests discuss mistresses and their role (also as old as time, the mistress). And not just from the man's point of view, but from the mistress's too; and the wife of said man too, if possible.

The guest on right now mentioned the frailty of human life....

Thank you

Mar. 12 2008 11:27 AM
Billy Bob from queens

At last look the conservatives didn't have to say a word about McCain because the sickening NY Times printed a libelous untrue story. They sat back and let character speak for itself. Not here. Not by the libs and dems.

Mar. 12 2008 11:27 AM
Bob from ny ny

Brian Lehrer show responds: This comment was removed because it did not conform to the rules for posting on this thread. Please try and keep your posts on topic and civil.

Mar. 12 2008 11:26 AM
Mernie from ny ny

Yes, how about doing a segment with the editors of "Governors Who Lack Leadership and Take Risks on Being Caught in Criminal Scandal" Magazine. That editor is fascinating. Lift a phone. Get him on

Mar. 12 2008 11:25 AM
tom from new york city

let's see what the (sickening) conservatives do with this story from now until Nov. They have perfected playing psychological games with voters around scandals like this.

Mar. 12 2008 11:24 AM
Steve from Manhattan

Ask him about Vitter and Craig ... haven't they sullied their offices?

Mar. 12 2008 11:23 AM
hjs from 11211

sexual addiction??

Mar. 12 2008 11:21 AM
Christopher Hatton from Hoboken, NJ

John Buchbinder 9: That's 'flouted', surely?

*shakes head* And him the son of an English teacher. :-)

Mar. 12 2008 11:20 AM
Bagatelle from New York City

I agree with Theo. Old profession, old news. BUT shocking in degree this time. I don't mean to be stupid, I have my share of skeletons, but, but, but... HOW CAN SEX COST THAT MUCH ... AND WHAT WAS HE THINKING????? I, personally AM GLAD the banks know where I spend my money ... it will help catch a thief and keep me safe. Spitzer KNEW in his heart of hearts that his career (AND HIS WIFE'S PUBLIC LIFE AS SHE KNEW IT) would be over if it was found out. He acted the most idiotic of all the MALE idiots that do this. Let's name some women caught in this? And "our culture" somehow thinks WOMEN are less worthy? I think not. I feel for Ms. Silda, oh lord, do I feel for her.

Mar. 12 2008 11:18 AM
Charnisse from nyc

Yes this is so above Brian this call in

Mar. 12 2008 11:16 AM
Bernie from nyc

Should governors really be messing around with this junk thats the issue

Mar. 12 2008 11:16 AM
Michele Manegio from Belmar, NJ

Brian, as I listen to these male callers, I can just about hear you cringing. You must be embarrassed to share the same gender!

Hang in there :-)

Mar. 12 2008 11:09 AM
Peter Ramaglia from Highland, NY

Maybe Govenor Spitzer was only talking with the prostitute. Why is everyone assuming he had sex with her???

Mar. 12 2008 11:09 AM

Is Joe Bruno going to vote twice?

Mar. 12 2008 11:09 AM
Christopher Hatton from Hoboken, NJ

In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to want to spread their genes as much as possible, but for women, who are locked into breeding from a single geneset for nine months to a year at a time, it makes sense to try to keep that geneset private to them.

We all have to frustrate parts of our nature to have society; for example, if someone harms you or your family, instinct is to go and hurt them or their family. This is "natural" but destructive to society (multigenerational bloodfeud is the greatest of social evils); it's why we have a legal system to exact retribution in a measured way.

Mar. 12 2008 11:08 AM
MC from Brooklyn

Why is everyone ignoring disease? Hookers have sex with different men regularly. I would hate to catch herpes from my cheating husband...

Mar. 12 2008 11:06 AM
tom from new york city

In my Verizon Yellow book there are 34 pages full of escort services -- right between "escalators" and "expresso machines." It goes on all the time. Men I admire, like Vincent Van Gogh, are known to have sued them, it diminishes not at all my opinion of them. But when it hurts families, and is a cheap escape that harms others, I look down on it and think it should be roundly and severly condemned.

Mar. 12 2008 11:04 AM
louise collier from Summit, New Jersey

Dear Brian,

Please do a show on the sycophantic press that enabled Spitzer. You could start by having on Kimberley Strassel, who ran an enlightening piece this morning in The Wall Street Journal re this matter. Contrast it with the gutsy and courageous Detroit Free Press/News, which has been relentless in exposing the actions of Detroit's Mayor Kilpatrick. They make New York's press corps look like a bunch of journalism school dropouts.


Mar. 12 2008 10:59 AM
hjs from 11211

good for bruno taking the high road in his press conference.

Mar. 12 2008 10:59 AM
Christopher Hatton from Hoboken, NJ

At $5000 a pop (sorry) he must have been getting some pretty exotic services. I wonder what they were; I'm sure many others will too.

Mar. 12 2008 10:58 AM
Dan from NJ

Is anyone watching this Bruno clown? Is he skipping with glee as much as it sounds from watching him?

Mar. 12 2008 10:54 AM
Theo from Malverne, NY

Prostitution is the oldest job in the history of humanity.
Let's drop the hypocritical tones and accept reality. Men will go to whore houses to have fun.

As far as for Spitzer, it is between him and his family, not my business. My business is to check if he is doing a good job as a politician and thats all.

Mar. 12 2008 10:53 AM
Katie from Corona

meow meow. let's keep this civil and on topic

Mar. 12 2008 10:52 AM

can we please stop these reductive essentialist arguments about how men or women "are"? if we are to respect silda wall spitzer at all, we are to understand that she is an individual -- a person -- and should not be made to bare the brunt of what all "women" are apparently like. the same should hold for elliot spitzer.

Mar. 12 2008 10:51 AM

ITs not me its you with your character judgements. Do you know David Patterson? How do you know he is decent. I'm sick to death of people and their feelings. All I want is that when people do a bad job that they too are asked to leave or forced out.

Mar. 12 2008 10:38 AM
hjs from 11211

LVK, which facts?

chestina, right on the money!

Mar. 12 2008 10:37 AM
Ed from NYC

Your guest described Spitzer as having "been in free fall for the past year." Would any who know him wonder if the extremes of behavior and poor judgement he has displayed could have a medical cause? Brain tumor? Other imbalance?

Not to excuse his behavior or take from the enormous sympathy due his poor family, and, professionally, his colleagues...

Mar. 12 2008 10:33 AM
chestina (felt pressure to change it) from Midtown

i wish all the hookers who have serviced politicians would gather and name every politician they have serviced - how many would remain unnamed?

When will we get real about powerful men and their zippers. This is not a new story.

I don't think Spitzer should face ruin, just take a lesson about hubris/hypocrisy and that double-sided coin he is showing us about 'morals." Now that oily Bruno slips out of all his wrongdoing.

Now journalists why is your attntion not on all the truly horrendous things going on around us all?

Mar. 12 2008 10:30 AM
LVK from All over the place

Bored: It's you;
Democratic apologists: You continually fail to recognize and acknowledge facts. Well at least you'll have a decent man as governor now even if he is liberal.

Mar. 12 2008 10:29 AM
James from New York

The state's chief executive & law enforcement officer can't do business secretly with organized crime and also be expected to reliably enforce the laws elsewhere against organized crime. This is NOT just a private sexual indiscretion which most clear headed mature adults nowadays would agree should not be the basis for judging a public official. Sadly, this is a very different kind of breach of public trust for which nothing short of resignation (or impeachment & removal) is acceltable.

Mar. 12 2008 10:28 AM
Lynn from Manhattan

I am so angry. Please stop talking about Paterson's vision. You get to sayt "the first blind Mayor and what does that say about the progress of the disability rights movement (in this case, perhaps nothing) or in other ways it might actually apply, but how dare you go on as if it should somehow in and of itself have something to do with his qualification for office. How dare you and reporters get to keep talking about *us* mean9ing sighted people. Blind people - like myself - are part of the *us*, Brian. We are part of your audience. Show a little respect, maybe. Get *your* act together around this. Just because a prejudice is common, because some of us have to live with the ramification of it every day, every hour, constantly, just because you willl get reinforcement for your attitudes from 90 or morrrrrre percent of anyone else rreading this, that doesn't make it right. Please start acting like the mench, the upright person you usually are and with the respect you show members of other minority groups as they achieve high office.

Mar. 12 2008 10:26 AM
Glenn from Manhattan

The NYT Reporter on The News Hour last night said that Spitzer was 'arrested'. Is that true that he was and was either given a desk ticket or arraigned on a certain charge?

Mar. 12 2008 10:25 AM
hjs from 11211

dem politicians beware little BUSH is watching!!!

what a bad decision he should have fought this to the end.

Mar. 12 2008 10:18 AM
Katie from Corona

Should have just got a mistress and kept her in an apartment. Much more convenient and safer. No one would have cared because so many do the adultery thing, the issue is he broke the law. He is not above the law. Governor is supposed to be a pillar in the community and an example to the rest of society of exemplary behavior.

Mar. 12 2008 10:16 AM
David from Queens

Personally, I think Governor Patterson will have clearer vision for the state and greater insight than the politicians who preceeded him.

Mar. 12 2008 10:13 AM

When was the last time an elected official resigned because of doing a bad job? So as long as you don't do anything illegal you can stay and mess everything up (ie. The monkey in chief). Why isn't Adm. Fallon quitting as Centcom commander making big news. Is it me or does it feel like a media blackout on the War in Iraq.

Mar. 12 2008 10:08 AM
Steven from NY


Paterson is also a Caribbean-American.

Mar. 12 2008 10:08 AM
Red Wind from

This is great, Wayne Barrett and Jim Sleeper are thinking just like I've been thinking (and writing) for the last two days. I hope you post a stream of the entire extended segment so that I can link to it later.

Mar. 12 2008 10:06 AM
john buchbinder from brooklyn

Hello Brian,
Love love love your, here is a tiny off topic your commentary about Spitzer you noted that he "flaunted" the law....well, perhaps he did, but contextually, he in fact flauted the law.
Please excuse my comes from having a mother who was an english teacher.
thank you for what you do

Mar. 12 2008 10:06 AM
James from New York

The main problem with what Spitzer has done concerns the fact that he is New York State' chief executive officer charged with the enforcement of the state's laws and he has put himself into a profoundly untenable position by entering into such secret business transactions with organized crime. It is well known that organized crime is the main operator of many illegal activities, such as prostitution & drugs, (as well as gambling, construction & sanitation etc). How can the governor NOT be pressured by organized crime elements to NOT prosecute & pursue them vigorously in such areas if he is a client (with an interest in not being exposed as such) in any of them? Unlike a private consensual sexual affair which many of us agree should not ordinarily be of concern to the public or cause for resignation of a public official, this is a fundamentally different problem. It is an indiscretion which fundamentally inhibits his ability to enforce the laws of the state. And as such renders him unfit to be Governor.

Mar. 12 2008 10:04 AM
Marco from Manhattan

Don't blame the Bush administration for this's Spitzer's hubris and stupidity. The result would have been the same if one of the hookers or state troopers leaked the story. Spitzers conduct was so reckless that the story would have come out anyway.

Mar. 12 2008 10:02 AM
Matt from Manhattan

Somebody called in yesterday about "risk assessment" programs in banks. I agree with him. They are nothing but smoke and mirrors. I happened to work in the bank a certain right wing radio-talk-show host used when he was caught buying prescription drugs. The bank helped him get the money. His housekeeper raised the alarm.

Mar. 12 2008 10:01 AM
Robert from NYC

Also I'd like to know who are numbers 1-8 and 10-end clients on this list of this Emperor's "dating?" organization. Why is Spitzer's the only name released? Maybe an investigative reporter ought to investigate that!

Mar. 12 2008 10:00 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes, why isn't Bruno pursued. He's been dirty for decades and gets by. In fact it seems Republicans in general get away with just about everything and in the case of the current administration in DC they get away with EVERYTHING. And they're the ones who cry that the so-called liberal press comes down on them. Well it seems that the truth is it is exactly the opposite case. Again, I said it yesterday here, I believe that Bruno and his gang are deeply involved in this along with Wall Street.

Mar. 12 2008 09:53 AM

Too bad -- in the end he turned out to be as weak-kneed and selfish to his voters and mission as Gore in 2000.

Mar. 12 2008 09:53 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

I am amazed how reporters are not interested in the political aspect of the Spitzer situation. They focus in on the legal minutia, for me that’s hack journalism.
Joe Bruno’s federal probe has completely disappeared, are the reporters asking questions? The answer no.

Mar. 12 2008 09:48 AM
Robert from NYC

That information was very interesting to learn. It makes perfect sense. How sad that Spitzer slashed his own throat. So now my bank knows I shop at Trader Joe's.

Mar. 12 2008 09:43 AM

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