What Eliot Spitzer’s new Current TV show really needs to do to get ratings
Do you remember watching disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer’s TV show on CNN? It’s okay, almost no one does, because it was almost universally terrible — and when they dumped his co-host, Kathleen Parker, it went from terrible to unwatchable. But despite his terrible track record and lack of personal on-camera charisma, when Current TV co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt announced on March 30 that they were firing Keith Olbermann, they added that Spitzer and his brand-new show was getting his time slot.
Spitzer, who Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) once openly mocked to the New York Times for being too egotistical, is not best-known for his turn as New York’s Wall Street-busting attorney general, his nomination of the man who became the first African-American governor in New York state or even anything he did as governor. Instead, he’s best known for paying tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of sex with the women who worked for the Emperors Club VIP escort service, getting caught up in a federal investigation and resigning from elected office over the scandal.
Unlike the philandering former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Spitzer didn’t go on a public penance tour of humanitarian work after humiliating his family, putting his wife’s health at risk and risking his career and the governance of the state he was elected to lead. Instead, he dropped off the public radar briefly, told the media he was considering such a tour, started writing a column at Slate, appeared on Bill Maher’s show and parlayed his various TV appearances into first the embarrassing CNN gig and now the one on Current TV.
The problem is: I’m not ready for his comeback. And an informal survey of my friends, family and colleagues — all of whom are his liberal potential audience — indicates that I am not alone. One resignation press conference with his gobsmacked wife by his side does not an apology make. A Slate column and punditry career based around having been right about Wall Street lo these many years doesn’t help — I mean, whose fault is is, exactly, that he had to leave office just before the financial crisis? Oh, right. Mini-Spitzer. The only person Spitzer’s attempted to do good works for since leaving office is Eliot Spitzer, and we all know what happened the last time Spitzer decided he needed to do right by himself.
So, you know, I don’t really need to watch him talk about diplomatic challenges with Syria or why Mitt Romney’s tone-deaf or listen to him shine me on about how he’s going to give me “facts that inform.” What I need to see is him take it right in the kisser every night until he evinces some level of humility, humanity and understanding that by leaving New Yorkers high and dry because he couldn’t keep his private parts the same way, he screwed up.
So if Current TV wants to make Spitzer’s new snooze-fest must-see TV, here’s what they need to do. Every night, get a female pundit on and just let her berate him. Righties, lefties, libertarians, I bet we all have something to say to Spitzer about male politicians and their faulty zippers, the theory that women exist as nothing but a reward for male power and privilege and how we just can’t find it in our little hearts to believe that men who treat some women as nothing but sex objects look on the rest of us ladies as intellectual and emotional equals. And all the while, make Spitzer sit there and listen (and look contrite and embarrassed for himself and his behavior).
That I’d watch. Him bloviate about American diplomacy in the Middle East? Not so much.