David Vitter Is All the Oil Spill Fox News Needs
What's already washed ashore and onto our TV screens from Louisiania is its oily-slick senator, David Vitter, who appeared on Fox twice this weekend.
Vitter reassured FoxAmerica that "drill, baby, drill" was still fine with him, though he's better known, if you search your memory, for a different kind of drilling, the kind that Fox never forgives if it involves a Democrat who's a prick to the powerful.
"I don't think that there's any argument that we should just start shutting down activity now, or even start shutting down new activity that's planned," Vitter said on Sunday. The senator, who's running for reelection this year, said he thought any notion that the Obama administration might pause and reflect about its own recent embrace of offshore drilling "would be the wrong approach."
Vitter was accorded all the respect Fox traditionally musters for GOP candidates in an election year, without a single reference to a history that would make Eliot Spitzer blush. Caught red-handed in 2007, just like Spitzer, he admitted he'd patronized the D.C. Madam's whorehouse. But he's never come clean about years of similar exploits in New Orleans, documented by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times-Picayune, and confirmed by a madam, a prostitute, and a member of the State GOP's executive committee.
In fact, the New Orleans romps came up in 2004, when he was first elected to the Senate, and the then congressman called them "lies," a deception even Murdoch's minions can't throw at Spitzer. At the same time, two of his TV commercials were shot in the family kitchen, with him clutching a box of Cheerios and handed the baby for a diaper change (some of the most salacious allegations about his whoring days also involved diapers. Wife Wendy and the four children were such commercial regulars that a third ad was said to be shot by Vitter's daughter Sophie, who announced the unusual family status of the campaign by declaring: "You'll be seeing a lot of commercials from us."
The rationale for much of the Spitzer disdain -- uncontained in everything Murdoch -- is his hypocrisy for prosecuting prostitution, but Vitter's commercialization of family values is at least the equal of Spitzer's.
I stopped counting at 22 Fox appearances since Vitter's sex scandal, with the senator frequently depicted as a hero, always given a pass on his past.
When Peter Elkind's new Spitzer book and Alex Gibney's new untitled Spitzer documentary came out in recent days, the Post went into hysterics, throwing two editorials at him and a gagging collection of columns and news stories, even banking Elkind, a prize-winning Fortune reporter, "Eliot's Latest Hooker" in a headline. All the while, the Post's sister network was showcasing Vitter.
Spitzer had, in one Post editorial, vanished "into his personal septic tank of a sex scandal."
In another editorial, the paper noted that "odd as it may seem, Spitzer seems to believe there is a positive role for him to play in public life." This editorial pretended to trash Spitzer for other reasons, but couldn't resist temptation itself: "It isn't about the women, or the humiliation he visited on his wife and daughters, or even that he made NY a laughingstock," the Post said -- it was because he's "temperamentally unsuited for office."
The strangest of all, though, was a pseudo-editorial that appeared on its blog, Knickerbocker, usually a newsy nice read, which ruled that the movie and book "won't be the last word if Spitzer ever tries to make a political comeback" because he never confirmed that he'd gone to prostitutes before 2006, which the Post reported with solemn certitude -- relying, strangely enough, on a madam and prostitute, just like the Vitter charges that Vitter has yet to concede, despite lie detector tests and other evidence. "Without answers" about when it began, Spitzer, the Post proclaimed, was doomed.
The Murdoch double standard -- heck, Fox's resident guru Dick Morris has his own prostitution history -- makes it absolutely clear that it's the good things Spitzer did, not his terrible weaknesses, that is driving their never-ending campaign against him. Spitzer is a jerk, in the official News Corporation view, if he thinks he can play a positive role in public life, but Vitter can remain in the Senate.
Research Assistance by Sara Gates and Bill Kline