Last Updated Mar 11, 2008 12:24 PM EDT
The power of message control was on full display yesterday, with the national media playing along in all its glory.
The first word I got of the Spitzer scandal came in a breathless N.Y. Times email alert: "Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring." What?!? The governor of New York, Mr. Clean, is involved in organized crime?
For a few tantalizing minutes before the rest of the story came out, the messaging of "Spitzer/prostitution ring" began to be embedded in my mind, and I'm sure in the minds of the journalists who write the headlines. It was only after I was able to read the rest of the story that I saw what appears to be the extent of the story: Eliot Spitzer hired a prostitute.
I'll leave it to Spitzer, his family and the voters of the State of New York to sort out the moral issues here. But what I find interesting is the use of "prostitution ring" to describe hiring a call girl. Why did "prostitution ring" become the storyline?
My guess: Spitzer is the top Democratic crime-fighting politician -- a left-wing Rudy Guiliani. The Feds who busted him are part of a right-wing Republican administration. They put the story out, they controlled the message, and they left it to Spitzer and his shocked staff to play defense.