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Ick-arus Syndrome

Do poor ratings for 'Parker Spitzer' mean viewers have yet to forgive the former governor?

4:20 PM, Oct 18, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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"Struggling cable news net CNN has fallen to another 10-year low in terms of ratings," MediaBuyerPlanner reported last week.

On average, just 327,000 total viewers tuned in to CNN in prime time on Monday, the lowest number since May of 2000, when 326,000 tuned in, according to Nielsen (via the Los Angeles Times).

The network has been fiddling with programming in attempts to improve viewership. One such move has been to add a new show, Parker Spitzer, a program which is in fact having the opposite effect, generating some of CNN’s worst ratings in several years.

Monday night, the show pulled just 311,000 viewers at 8pm, far below any night of its first (already dismal in terms of ratings) week, according to the Business Insider.

This isn't the way it was supposed to happen. Governor Spitzer, earlier disgraced by a prostitution scandal, had exiled himself from public life. He taught classes. All of which lasted a little over two years. Now Spitzer is back, on the road to redemption, ready to be absolved of his sins, ready for a return to prime time. Sure, the low ratings on his program could be a byproduct of airing on a network already mired in low ratings. Or it could be that people don't care to see Spitzer on their television sets smiling and having a grand time. That would probably be the opinion of Scott Raab, who reviews the Spitzer documentary Client 9 in the November issue of Esquire (link not yet available):

Here's Spitzer—ex-governor of New York, son of a rich father determined to make him America's first Jewish president, Princeton grad, husband, father, and regular patron of a prostitution ring so keenly attuned to its clients' self-delusions that it called itself the Emperors Club—in his little suit and tie, pondering his downfall on camera, likening himself to Icarus: "Those whom the gods would destroy, they make all-powerful."

Putz. He doesn't even know the quotation.... It ends, "...they first make mad." As in insane. Which is precisely the case with Spitzer.... [Client 9 director Alex Gibney] implies that had Spitzer not fallen, somehow our economy would be healthier today, which is ludicrous. And he—along with the desperadoes at CNN—seems to find Spitzer to be an appealing, interesting guy. Sorry. I knew Icarus—Icarus was a friend of mine. Eliot Spitzer is no Icarus. Prickarus, maybe.

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