Spitzer's Reemergence Reveals What Being A Murdoch Property Means

Lest there be any doubt remaining in anyone’s mind, yes, being a Murdoch-owned news outlet means you cover the news…let’s say: “a certain way.”

Yesterday, former New York Governor (and more recent media figure) Eliot Spitzer announced he was running for the office of Comptroller of New York City. This is widely viewed as the spearpoint of what he hopes will be a political comeback after his resignation from the much more-powerful office of Governor of New York state years ago. Spitzer already has a campaign Twitter account all set up; this is for real.

So how does the New York Post – a News Corp. property – cover it?

photo of NYPost front page from 7/8/13
Headline Actually Refers To Post’s Behavior, Not Spitzer’s

“Aw, so what?”, I hear you cry. “The Post is a tabloid; tabloids run intentionally shocking headlines all the time.” Well…yes. And no. The Post is indeed a tabloid, and they’ve certainly lofted their share of questionable, even reprehensible headlines onto their front pages. But this isn’t your ordinary muckraking, scandal-mongering or celebrity-shaming.

“But doesn’t the Post give that treatment to everyone – or at least to all politicians attempting a rebirth after a sex scandal?” You would certainly think so, I suppose, if you had been following the Post’s equally breathless coverage of Anthony Weiner’s decision to run for New York mayor. “WEINER’S SECOND COMING” screamed the eleventy-billion-point font of the Post’s headline that day, followed by the subhead: “Anthony: Erect me Mr. Mayor.” Get it? Erect? Oh, those subtle wags at the Post.

But wasn’t there another US politician recently trying to make a comeback after being caught in a humiliating sex scandal? Oh, yes, that’s right! Mark Sanford. Given the above two Beavis and Butthead worthy headlines, you’d expect the Post had something equally titillating ready to go for Sanford’s announcement, right? Behold their article:

screencap of New York Post's announcement of Mark Sanford's congressional candidacyFirst thing I suppose should be noted is that this isn’t even a NY Post article. It’s from the Associate Press wire service. And yes, it’s doubtful a local New York paper like the Post has a South Carolina bureau. But that shouldn’t have stopped them from tarting up the facts with their own spin, given how seemingly keen they are to publicly shame politicians with sexual indiscretions in their pasts. Yet notice the lack of front-page, salacious headline. Then notice how, in the first sentence, the Post (or rather, the AP) simply calls Sanford “Former Governor.” Compare that to the Post’s own first sentence in the Spitzer story from this morning: “Disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer…”

So, why the switch? Because Spitzer and Weiner are Democrats, of course, while Sanford is a good Republican soldier. The marching orders for Murdoch-owned “news” properties are clear: if it’s a Democrat, give ’em both barrels. A Republican? Run a neutral story from a wire service. Well, at least they’re not hiding their leanings behind “fair and balanced.”

**UPDATE** I forgot to include the screencap of the actual article the Post wrote regarding Spitzer’s announcement of his candidacy, instead of just the headline. But if the point needed to be made any further, have a look at the online article and note that the Post included photos of both the prostitute Spitzer visited AND the madame who arranged the liaison…and they put the former’s picture above Spitzer’s in the article.