Spitzer coverage hints at war between The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

Spitzer coverage hints at war between The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

If you didn’t spend at least part of day two de l’affaire Spitzer with your nose buried in the pages or, to bend the analogy, the Web sites of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, I have to ask: does your blood run red? This story has it all: intrigue, hubris, venality, corruption, a wife spurned and, yes, hookers. Yet if you read carefully, another story starts to emerge: the Spitzer coverage represents the early days of an all-out newspaper war—the Journal vs. the Times—for the hearts and minds of Americans generally, and New Yorkers specifically.

It must be said that, from a reporting standpoint, the Times scored a knockout in the first round, having broken the story and seeming to have a wiretap on the DOJ’s investigation of “Client 9.” The Journal, on the other hand, recognizing the interests and predispositions of its audience, forewent the Times’ somewhat po-faced approbation and more or less announced on the front page of the paper “ding dong the wicked witch is dead.” To wit: “Wall Street Cheers as Its Nemesis Falls From Grace.”

Spitzer is really the first mammoth, head-spinning story to hit the front pages of the New York City papers since December 13—the day Rupert Murdoch took over the Journal and started showing an interest in taking on the Times where it lives. This is a story that’s likely to go on for days and has considerable legs. In that regard, I point to the following from the comments section of the Times’ news blog, which covers breaking events 24/7:

Am I reading this correctly? According to today’s Times article, the investigation did not start with the prostitution ring. It started “last year” with a “routine” IRS investigation of “unusual activity” on the governor’s credit cards. Isn’t that the Treasury Department? Run by the former CEO of Goldman Sachs? Wall Street’s designated bruiser. I, for one, would like to see more reporting on the origins of this investigation. One of the greatest and least appreciated dangers in our democracy is political use of the IRS, even a hint of it. I hope this will get as much attention as the sex.

And, from JF, another commenter:

Has the Republican politicization of the US Department of Justice ensnared the Democrat Governor of New York?

Here’s one oddity about the complaint. Client-9 (who is Governor Spitzer) is referenced many more times than any other client. Why?

The complaint refers to ten clients. Here’s how many times each of these clients is cited in the complaint:

client-1 (16 times)client-2 (8 times) client-3 (8 times) client-4 (18 times) client-5 (10 times) client-6 (11 times) client-7 (5 times) client-8 (6 times) client-9 (57 times — Governor Spitzer) client-10 (7 times)

Why was more attention paid to the Governor than other clients?

We should all wonder whether the complaint was crafted to embarrass Governor Spitzer—especially after last month’s startling upset election that reduced the Republican margin in the New York Senate to a single seat.

Ah, conspiracy thy name is Spitzer.

And in a delicious footnote, Margaret Wente, offering her usual bodice-ripping condemnation of the damnable male in the Globe, pointed out that “[Spitzer] was the chief prosecutor for the people Conrad Black called the corporate governance vigilantes. (News of Mr. Spitzer’s peccadilloes no doubt brightened Lord Black’s day.)”

Notes on the Spitzer Scandal (Comments) [New York Times]• State in Limbo as Questions Swirl About Spitzer’s Future [New York Times]• Spitzer Resists Calls to Resign [Wall Street Journal]