A U.S. attorney announced the bust of The Emperors' Club last Thursday. We noted that the Duke of Westminster was allegedly linked, back in the day, but otherwise the story seemed mostly innocuous, as the only people named were in brothel management, not customers. Except to the Times reporters who realized that a government official was involved. They learned it was Spitzer by Friday, and they amazingly held on to that news until the following Monday, when they went live with it at 2 p.m. and immediately caused all sorts of media hell to break loose.
Everyone's initial reaction: OMG. The most jaded of observers couldn't conceal their shock. We who have seen everything were still stunned at how this came seemingly out of absolutely nowhere. AIM windows across the city lit up.
Fox News sparked the resignation speculation by 3 p.m.. Less than an hour after the news broke! Before Spitzer had actually decided anything! This began a hum of speculation and predictions that would only grow in volume over the next, well, day.
The requisite public apology came ridiculously early too. Once again, an hour after America learned of his sin, he was paraded before us to grovel for forgiveness, his poor, blue-clad wife by his side. And then he made that sad muppet face that we've all seen a million times since.
While he begged forgiveness, bloggers were all combing over the available documents for the filthy details of Spitzer's kinks. Client 9! Unsafe sex! How much did he pay? The Smoking Gun was there, natch. The first Client 9 t-shirt probably hit CafePress by 5 p.m..
It bears repeating: this is still Day 1. Of a story that broke that afternoon. It wasn't even a tabloid story because there had not yet been enough time to print a tabloid.
The Observer even got their first meta "inside the Times scoop" story up that night. Everyone was scrambling! Intern Mary's headline analysis chart sums up most of the media response from that first 24 hours.
Once they did get to the story, the tabloids introduced us to the outrage phase. We'd gotten over shock, remarkably quickly, and now it was time to condemn. The Times even got into the act, thought hey couldn't bring themselves to ask for him to resign. We got the "HIS POOR WIFE" columns, the ladies of The View weighed in, and everyone was fixated on what a terrible person Spitzer was (I KNEW HE WAS A FRAUD & A HYPOCRITE FROM THE DAY HE SWAGGERED INTO CAPITOL), for a few minutes, while we waited for his inevitable resignation.
That resignation, oddly, didn't come Tuesday, even though we all thought it way overdue. The Times subtly updated its holding-pattern headline as the news from Spitzer's apartment failed to develop. The cable nets babbled. The crazies weighed in.
By the time Spitzer had actually decided to resign, experts were already coming up with reasons both psychological and borderline criminal for his delay—not just, like, he hadn't made up his mind yet. Or maybe he was taken aback by how ridiculously quickly all of this had spun out of control.
Then he finally resigned! Less than 48 hours after the news broke! News networks went nuts, following his SUV as it slowly drove through midtown traffic like OJ was behind the wheel. The press conference itself defined 'media circus.'
But the news wasn't even really about him anymore. He was just a punchline! The only real interest left was in finding the call girl. We, among others, first searched for her during Monday's chaos. We thought we finally had her by Wednesday morning!
But the Times, amazingly, scooped everyone again, and tracked down "Kristen" and linked to her MySpace and everything, and suddenly the story was about camping out outside her apartment and tracking down every footprint she ever left on the internet. This one ought to flame out soon enough, but we haven't even gotten to the morning show appearances yet, so give it a little more time.
All that's left now, especially after the one-two punch of attacking another man's moral failings and then exploiting an attractive young woman tangentially involved, is the media self-flagellation period, where cable pundits and media bloggers and newspaper op-eds will all ask, "did we go too far?" As that is the most annoying part of any media circus, you'll forgive us if we skip it.