Paul Jacob
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You can send a message to the mainstream media about the importance of rewarding what’s right, instead of what’s wrong. It’s really easy. Tomorrow night, Monday at 8 p.m. (ET), don’t click your television remote to the Cable News Network.

That’s when the new CNN show Parker Spitzer debuts. The program boasts co-hosts Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace as governor of New York back in 2008, and Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker. You may know Parker as the Washington Post’s idea of a conservative, and presumably she’ll also play one on TV.

How will the new show be different? Spitzer told Larry King, “We want to be thoughtful. . . . We will have a smart conversation.”

So, with such shockingly innovative program and promise, how can I possibly ask you to miss it?

It’s not personal. It’s not even political.

It’s not that I’ve never liked Spitzer. Or that I wasn’t fond of him as a headline-chasing prosecutor. Or that I don’t like his policy vision.

It’s all about my lack of admiration for his extra-curricular activities, which directly led to his resignation as New York’s governor.

“No one needs a rehash of those events,” Parker wrote in her column, “though there’s plenty available for schadenfreude addicts.”

Parker went on to explain: “I’m not defending Spitzer or condoning his behavior. Ultimately, I decided that his obvious intelligence, insights and potential contributions outweighed his other record. As far as I’m concerned, especially given that he has resigned from public office, the flaws that brought Spitzer down are between him and his family. Like most Americans, I believe in redemption.”

Yes, say what you will about Mr. Spitzer, he did offer both his family and the public a straightforward apology. That’s so rare in our troubled world as to be awfully commendable. I, for one, forgive him. (But that’s easy for me to say — I’m not married to him.)

I’m not so forgiving of CNN. The fact that Spitzer may be deserving of our prayers or good wishes on getting his life back together doesn’t mean that his contrition merits a big sack of money and a primetime stab at stardom. Spitzer and CNN are, in fact, trading on his scandal.

And that’s why it is important that this gambit not succeed.

Likewise, I’m not so quick to let Parker off the hook. She writes that she doesn’t condone his behavior. Great. But by arguing that Spitzer’s “intelligence . . . outweighed his other record” and by teaming up with his “celebrity” to co-host a television show, she performs all the “condoningMerriam-Webster’s lexicographers could hope to define.

A little over two years ago, Spitzer resigned as New York’s governor after it was discovered that he had an illicit relationship with a prostitute. As Client No. 9 he acted, he confessed at the time, “in a way that violates my obligation to my family, that violates my — or any — sense of right and wrong.”

So let us wish Spitzer well . . . in some other job. Not as a television personality investing his infamy to gain increased celebrity.

Watching Parker Spitzer would send a bad message, the too-common message that unethical behavior deserves a handsome reward.

Would I feel the same way were Spitzer a conservative? You betcha. But don’t hold your breath: CNN will not likely make equal time for some conservative oath-breaker and lech.

In the network’s defense, there are more disgraced politicians than available time slots. Even with CNN’s ratings.

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Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.