March 11th, 2008
08:06 PM ET

Humiliated wives: Why do they stand there?

While the nation’s mouths are hanging open at Gov. Eliot Spitzer, every time his public apology airs I can’t take my eyes or my mind off of his poor wife, Silda Wall Spitzer. Why is it that she stood there beside her husband during his public admission yesterday afternoon? It certainly wasn’t to better herself. Gov. Spitzer’s advisors probably deemed the “stand by your man” philosophy necessary, but her presence at her husband’s press conference yesterday only truly benefited Gov. Spitzer, leaving Silda most likely irreparably humiliated. Nobody’s doing damage control in Silda’s camp. While advisors may see it as a team effort, why does that have to trump your personal pride?

Also, I wonder, when did he tell Silda? And what did she think? Gov. Spitzer became the New York Attorney General in 1999 and built his career fighting corporate corruption and investigating prostitution. In fact, in 2004 Gov. Spitzer was part of an investigation that arrested 18 people on charges of promoting prostitution.

This allegation that he repeatedly hired high-end prostitutes is a heavy blow to anyone vowing “till death do us part.”   Even if she is there for him “in sickness and in health,” did Silda have to be at the press conference?


Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Soledad O'Brien
March 11th, 2008
07:17 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Will the real Eliot Spitzer please stand up?

Hurt. Upset. Confused. Like a punch in the gut. That’s how one of Eliot Spitzer’s political allies and friends described his reaction to the news of the New York Governor’s alleged link to a prostitution ring.


He told me he’s still reeling, and still trying to make sense of it all.  Remember, Spitzer is the guy who went after Wall Street and big business for “the little guy”; he was a champion of The People.  He brought down prostitution rings.  He talked about responsibility of government, of lawmakers, of citizens; he built his campaign on that… and on ethics. 

And one man says we all should have seen this fall coming.  Charlie Gasparino, author of “King of the Club: Richard Grasso and the Survival of the New York Stock Exchange,” covered Spitzer’s Wall Street crusades and says the signs were always there.  Characterizing him as “holier than thou,” this afternoon Gasparino also told me Spitzer had “the zealot’s gleam” in his eye, and that lawmaker “always thought he was above it all.”

If it was so obvious, why did everyone seem to miss the signs?

– Erica Hill, 360° Correspondent 

Program note: Tonight on 360° Erica Hill takes a closer look at Gov. Spitzer with some of the people who thought they knew him the best.

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Erica Hill
March 11th, 2008
06:08 PM ET

Spitzer: Setting a course to ruin

Editor's note: Robert Weiss is founder and Executive Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, an outpatient Sexual Addiction and Sexual Offender treatment program in Los Angeles. We asked for his thoughts on the reckless behavior attributed to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

While some healthy narcissism is required to become a public figure and live in the limelight, narcissistic people whose personalities are not tempered by some humility and humanity quickly show the ego’s dark side of arrogance, secrecy, lack of empathy, sociopathy and addiction.


Eliot Spitzer’s problems clearly go beyond his current legal-political crisis and the toll being taken on his wife, daughters and family life.  If the allegations prove true, Spitzer’s entitled choice – like Bill Clinton, Larry Craig and other public figures before him – to use intense, hidden and illegal sexual liaisons is an attempt to meet some deeper unknown and unmet emotional need of his own.

And it has set him on a course to personal and professional ruin:

– Choosing a casual sexual hook-up despite being committed to long-term monogamy indicates a lack personal integrity and is guaranteed to put up an emotional wall between you and your partner.

– Choosing to frequently and continuously seek sexual hook-ups outside of your monogamous relationship, while lying about the behavior, either means that you have no respect or appreciation of your partnership OR that you have an emotional problem.

Hopefully he will be smart enough to take heed now and get the help he so clearly needs. By doing that, his downfall could also sow some seeds toward redemption if he is willing to learn from his mistakes.

But first the Governor would need to be less myopically focused on saving his job and more attentive to his own emotional and personal life.  One act of good faith on his part might be to leave his struggling wife at home in the difficult days to come and take his public lumps like a man.

– Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT


Program note: Robert Weiss will be a guest on tonight's 360° at 10p ET

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer
March 11th, 2008
12:16 PM ET

Stand by your man, but is there a limit?


New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer is joined by his wife Silda as he makes a statement to reporters during a news conference following a report that he was involved in a prostitution ring

It is time to do away with the wronged wife standing mute next to her man, as he publicly humiliates her and confesses to cheating on her. 

Let him stand alone and apologize. 

She is not a potted plant.  She is not an object, an accessory to his political career.  She is a flesh and blood human being who was disrespected once during her husband's cheating, and now is victimized a second time by being made to stand silently by him.

I watched Dana McGreevey speak movingly on Larry King Live last night of why she made that choice.  She loved her husband.  She was not in on all the closed door meetings leading up to the press conference.  She was asked to appear at his side, and she did, because she continued to want the best for him and for the marriage.

I get that, and my heart goes out to Dana McGreevey.  As a personal choice, I respect her decision. 

But political spouses have a vital public role too, and they know their appearances and choices matter enormously, which is why they carefully choose what causes they'll support and what they'll wear to state dinners.  

What political wives choose to do about their marriages once their husband is caught in a sex scandal is a private matter. 

But appearing right next to their husband days after he's been caught with his pants down is a public humiliation, unworthy of women in public life in 2008. 

I'm sick of watching the Stepford Wife gaze, sick of explaining to my daughter that women deserve better.

A doormat is not a role model.

– Lisa Bloom, “In Session” Anchor/360° Contributor

Read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session”

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Lisa Bloom
March 11th, 2008
11:06 AM ET

Just name one woman

Bill Clinton, David Vitter, Gary Hart, Jim McGreevey, Larry Craig, and now Eliot Spitzer.  A partial list of recent high profile politicians embroiled in sex scandals.

Name a prominent female politician caught in a sex scandal.  (Being a victim of a husband's philandering doesn't count.)

I'll wait.

– Lisa Bloom, “In Session” Anchor/360° Contributor

Read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session”

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Lisa Bloom
March 11th, 2008
11:03 AM ET

A prosecutor ensnared in his own web


There's the sex, of course. But there are also the suspicious money transfers to a shell corporation, and then the sheriff of Wall Street himself allegedly caught speaking on a federal wiretap. 

How does a man who made himself the nation's most feared prosecutor trip himself up so easily, completely, repeatedly on the tools of his own trade?

Everyone's talking about power and sex, of course.. But Elliot Spitzer's case also raises other questions. For example, does hubris makes you sloppy, or even stupid?  Does being a straight arrow your whole life make you more likely to shoot yourself in the rear one day?

And on some level, did he want to get caught–or was he just enjoying getting away with it?

– Barclay Palmer, 360° Senior Producer

Filed under: Barclay Palmer • Eliot Spitzer • Raw Politics
March 10th, 2008
08:38 PM ET

Spitzer: Breaking the Rules

Eliot Spitzer seems to be the latest in the long list of politicians who appear to be champions of morality publicly, while privately struggle with some very amoral urges.

Every person has secret fantasies.  Many of these fantasies are quite normal and even healthy.  There is a big difference between having fantasies or thoughts and acting on them.  This means that it is normal too to have fantasies that you would never dream of acting on because the behavior would be morally reprehensible to you.

What happens then when you feel your thoughts are wrong? What happens when the urge to act on a morally bad thought is strong and it makes you anxious and guilty? Can this lead to a career of fighting the very urges you struggle with?

A tremendously conflicted thought or fantasy which is unexamined and suppressed has a lot of power.  Power to make you behave in ways you normally would not act.

In addition, the mind tries extremely hard to deny such thoughts exist.  This is the set up for creating a man who seems to be leading a secret life.  Craig, Foley, Baker and McGreevy... all pillars of society who seemed to be the champions of a highly moral cause and all using their positions to conceal urges to break the very rules they espouse.

– Dr. Gail Saltz, Psychiatrist

Program note: Dr. Saltz is the author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life."  She is a guest on Monday's 360° at 10p ET. 

Filed under: Dr. Gail Saltz • Eliot Spitzer
March 10th, 2008
06:04 PM ET

Lose the wife when you tell the world you cheated

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer essentially told the world today that he cheated on his wife. And right there over his right shoulder was the wife.

When Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told residents of the city that he did indeed have an affair with his chief of staff, he did so holding hands with his wife in their church.

When New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey told us about his adulterous affair with a man, and that he was gay, his then-wife, Dina, was right there.

Why don't these women tell these idiots to go tell the world themselves?  I know the political consultants always tell the wives to "stand by your man," because it looks better for the public to see a family standing firm.

At least Bill Clinton got this right.  After giving his deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit, he spoke to the nation, alone, admitting to what was reported.

If a man commits such a sin in darkness, and it comes to light, let him have the burden of telling the world.

– Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor


Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Roland S. Martin
March 10th, 2008
05:55 PM ET

Looking back: Spitzer's Harvard roots

I met Eliot Spitzer in the fall of 1984.  I was a first-year student at Harvard Law School; he was a second-year.  My criminal law professor was Alan Dershowitz, who was involved in a fascinating extracurricular activity.

He was representing Claus Von Bulow, who had been convicted of trying to murder his wife Sunny, in a sensational trial in Newport, Rhode Island.  Eliot was one of two students who were working as research assistants to Dershowitz, trying to win Von Bulow a new trial on appeal.


From the beginning, there was an odd contrast between Eliot and the Von Bulow case.  The attempted murder trial was a sordid drama, full of tales of illicit drug use and wild sex.  Eliot was the straightest of straight arrows.

He seemed so unlikely to be involved in such a matter.  But Eliot and his good friend Cliff Sloan were precocious and energetic young investigators, and they helped win Von Bulow a new trial; he was later acquitted.

Dershowitz wrote a book about the case, Reversal of Fortune, and it became a terrific movie, starring Jeremy Irons.  There is a composite character in the movie loosely based on Eliot and Cliff.

I’ve seen Eliot Spitzer turn into a prominent national figure in the years since, and we’ve remained friendly acquaintances.  I always got a kick out of the idea that he got his start in such an unseemly drama – which was so different from what his public persona became.

So today’s news is especially shocking to me, and especially sad. 

– Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Sr. Legal Analyst

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Jeffrey Toobin
March 10th, 2008
04:30 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Scandal and Power

Today’s breaking news about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer brought my original News Note to a screeching halt.

Yes, I am still fired up about the AP findings on water (can you get the drugs and chemicals out of the tap water?? Bottled water and rural water weren’t tested… should we be worried?), but these allegations about Gov. Spitzer’s possible involvement in a high-end prostitution ring can’t be ignored.


A lot of jaws dropping when this news broke because of how Sptizer has always portrayed himself – he is the man who went after corruption with a vengeance, and he did it loudly.

As N.Y. Attorney General, he even prosecuted at least two prostitution rings.  If the allegations are true, so many questions tonight, including how long this has been going on, and how he got involved.

As another 360° staffer said earlier, if Spitzer is a part of this scandal, just imagine who else may be listed in those files. This isn’t the type of service you look up in the phone book.

Scandal and power never seem to be far apart. Tonight, I’ll take a look at others who have been burned by their indiscretions and taken that hard fall from grace.

– Erica Hill, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Eliot Spitzer • Erica Hill
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