The Confessions of Eliot Spitzer, Cont.

I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of speaking to Eliot Spitzer after the publication of "Spitzer in Exile," the cover story I wrote on his life since resigning as New York governor last year in the wake of a prostitution scandal. In reporting the article, I'd learned that Spitzer has a politician's intolerance for introspection. How would he feel about my peering inside his soul?

Spitzer had a much more prosaic complaint. In the story, I'd described an afternoon we'd spent jogging together. Spitzer had to stop and walk before we made it around the Central Park Reservoir. His friends had been giving him grief: "What I've been telling them is that you're 20 years younger than me, which you included in your piece. What you didn't include was that you're a competitive runner. So I've been telling them all you're an Olympic-caliber runner." (For the record: not true.)

Journalistic navel gazers had their own issues. They wondered about the role a NEWSWEEK cover would play in Spitzer's political future—whether a news organization that highlights a disgraced politician is aiding and abetting his recovery. On Reliable Sources, media critic Howard Kurtz asked, "Has NEWSWEEK become Spitzer's partner in image rehab?" (There were similar criticisms in the blogosphere.) One of Kurtz's guests said, "This looks like an orchestrated comeback," and probed the possibility that "professional press people" had just handed over Spitzer to me.

The truth is, when I first approached him this past February, he was skeptical; it took hours of interviews before I got enough to merit our cover line, "The Confessions of Eliot Spitzer.' I didn't write about the process because I thought readers would find the story of private citizen Eliot Spitzer far more interesting than they'd find the story of how NEWSWEEK journalist Jonathan Darman got the story. Yes, -NEWSWEEK's piece renews interest in Spitzer, but Spitzer is an inherently interesting figure, and that's why we wanted him on our cover. As I wrote, if Spitzer wants a future in politics, he's got a lot of work ahead of him. Harder work than going running with me.