March 11, 2008

It’s not too often that high-profile political figures elected to statewide office are caught buying the services of a prostitute, but as luck would have it, we’ve seen two major examples in the last nine months — Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D).

There are some interesting similarities. Both held public office while hiring prostitutes, both are married, and both are subject to charges of hypocrisy (Vitter for touting “family values,” and Spitzer because he prosecuted prostitution as a state Attorney General). But the controversies are hardly identical — most notably, the statute of limitations had run out for Vitter, while Spitzer may still face charges.

But leave it to Fox News’ Steve Doocy to make a different kind of connection.

“Speaking of hypocrisy, when David Vitter, the senator from down South, was caught up in the D.C. madam scandal, of course, the mainstream media said, ‘Look, this is just part of the culture of corruption with the Republican Party,’ and, in fact, that led to steep losses in the 2006 congressional elections.

“So, you’ve got to wonder whether or not the Democrat [sic] Party is going to take a hit with this and also, nationwide not just in New York State, but also nationwide, will the mainstream media talk about this as being a big scandal in the Democrat [sic] Party, which it is — he’s one of Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates — or will they just say, ‘Look, it’s a story about a single governor in one state and he had a problem and now his wife is really mad at him.’”

There’s been no shortage of analysis and discussion of the Spitzer scandal lately, but this is arguably the dumbest.
Let’s count the ways.

1. Doocy insisted that the “mainstream media” connected Vitter’s sex scandal to the Republicans’ culture of corruption. I wish that were true, but it’s false. In fact, I searched Nexis from the day the Vitter story broke to one month later. The number of mainstream media outlets to use the words “Vitter” and “culture of corruption” in the same article/broadcast is zero. Doocy’s imagination is impressive, but he’s remembering news coverage that didn’t exist.

2. Doocy was adamant that the Vitter story — or, more accurately, the media’s coverage of it — led to “steep losses in the 2006 congressional elections” for Republicans. That, of course, is impossible. The Vitter story broke on July 10, 2007 — eight months after the elections.

3. Doocy believes this is a “big scandal” for Democrats because Spitzer is a Clinton superdelegate. This doesn’t make any sense. What does Spitzer’s status as a Clinton superdelegate have to do his sex scandal? Why would a superdelegate’s personal/legal controversy reflect badly on Democrats “nationwide”?

4. If Doocy hasn’t learned that it’s called the “Democratic Party” by now, one might be inclined to suspect that he’s a Republican hack.

Poor Fox News. It must get tiresome to be so wrong so often.

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