Spitzer Prostitution Scandal Reveals Ring of Message Control

Last Updated Mar 11, 2008 12:24 PM EDT

Was N.Y. governor Eliot Spitzer "caught in a prostitution ring?" Or did he simply hire a prostitute and get caught?

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.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.