The Jerry Springer Show on New York City's CW 11 was interrupted today for a special news bulletin. The breaking news was a live broadcast of the resignation of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer. Spitzer was recently implicated as a customer in a federal prostitution sting and this was the reason for the sudden resignation. The Springer show was a re-run in which wives were confronting the mistresses of their cheating husbands.The Jerry Springer show is white trash TV at it's best. It is a kind of guilty pleasure of mine, laying on the bed in the morning watching barely literate people get into fistfights over their tortured romantic liaisons.
The sheer irony of the chain of events was hilarious. The transition from the Springer show into the Spitzer resignation was almost seamless. If the station hadn't flashed their breaking news alert before going to the Governor's resignation speech you might have thought it was just another segment of the Springer show. It might as well have been, I guess, and it certainly gives validity to the saying that "you can take the boy out of the trailer park but you cant take the trailer park out of the boy" (somewhat paraphrased).
A big part of the dark humor associated with Elliot "John" Spitzer's involvement with prostitution is his reputation as a moral reformer. He has actively sought and prosecuted criminals of all stripes during his career as a prosecutor, New York State Attorney General, and most recently as Governor of that state. His role in busting an international sex ring in 2004 earned him the respect of many people.
Now, only four short years later, Spitzer was himself a (reportedly) repeat customer of the very industry he publicly fought to eliminate. I am sure that this incident will only serve to reinforce the perception that many people have of public figures who hold themselves up as great moral advocates. Other examples would be televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. No one has sympathy for a hypocrite. It is easy to talk the talk but talk is cheap.
What about the girl(s) involved in the sex trade, though? When is the media going to get around to using this incident to focus public attention on the plight of workers in the sex industry? I know that many prostitutes are in that line of work by choice but at the same time I think that, very often, there must be something fundamentally wrong with someone who willingly gives up all their self worth to make a living, not to mention the real physical dangers that the industry offers as the inevitable product of the work.
More and more people have been paying attention to the darker side of a dark industry and the reality of the sex trade is something everyone should be aware of. I know that in the United States we like to think we are somehow "above" human trafficking but we aren't. So perhaps this incident, although funny in a dark humor sort of way, can be used to shine a little more light on a truly evil side of human nature.