Spitzer Scandal Catches Cable Nets Off-balance

In their rush to cover the scandal involving New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, cable news networks stumbled Monday. In an item headed "Nets Take Spitzer Announcement the Old-Fashioned Way," the website TVNewser reported that Spitzer's New York office, where he delivered a one-minute apology, turned out to be too high (38th floor) to allow TV crews to send out a live picture without rigging up additional gear. As a result, they were only able to provide live audio coverage. Their recordings were then rushed down the elevators of the building and transmitted live from the street about ten minutes later. Immediately following Spitzer's statement, Fox News's Shepard Smith summed up: "He came in, he resigned and that was it." Except that wasn't it. Spitzer made no mention of the possibility of resigning. Moments later, Smith interrupted a discussion of the scandal to say, "Excuse me, I'm now told he did not resign in his statement."  Adding to the confusion, Fox News later headlined, "N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer Expected to Resign Later Today." He did not. TVNewser also pointed out that earlier in the day the business channels, CNBC, Fox Business Network, and Bloomberg were all on the air with the story -- sourcing the New York Times -- before the cable news channels and the broadcast networks. The TV coverage also sent hordes of people to the New York Times website to learn more details. The site was unable to accommodate the traffic surge -- and crashed.




11/03/2008


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