Can Eliot Spitzer show real human emotion by emitting a clear liquid from his eyes through the process of lachrymation? That was the question Tuesday morning as some of our most formidable investigators tried to figure out if Spitzer cried on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
Spitzer went on the notorious political talker as part of his morning-after media blitz now that he's running for New York City comptroller. At the very end of Spitzer's 15-minute interview he had to suffer through a grilling from Joe Scarborough, Mark Halperin and Mika Brzezinski. But the big discussion after the interview centered around one question at the very end that only occupied maybe a full minute of Spitzer's time. Brzezinski launched this emotional missile at Spitzer: "As personally as you can answer this question, don't give me a pat answer, don't give me one that you prepare in your mind, how are you different than you were five or six years ago?"
"A lot of pain," Spitzer responded, clenching his jaw and swallowing like he's watching that scene in Bambi. "A lot of pain."
"That's it?" Brzezinski asked, stunned that Spitzer didn't give her even more raw emotion.
"Yeah, you go through that pain and you change," Spitzer concluded, while blinking through what might have been tears.
I say "might have" because there is some debate over whether or not Spitzer actually cried during his Morning Joe interview. And this is important stuff that we must consider going forward, so it's only right that we get to the bottom of it. There were many who sided with Spitzer on this one (while also taking a dig at his past). "Eliot Spitzer cries on air when asked how he's changed. Used to have to pay hooker to make him cry," Christopher Moore tweeted. "Mika tells Spitzer in interview not to give a canned/planned answer to Q and what does he do? Cry on cue. Brilliant, bud," said Cooper Reeves. "Way to make Eliot Spitzer cry, Mika!!" added Josh Zembik. "Leave Eliot alone!"
But there are others who think the former governor was pushing crocodile tears. Chief among the cry-gate conspirators is Twitter person John Podhoretz. The man practically crusaded against the notion that Spitzer may have actually had tears in his eyes when answering Brzezinski. "He fake-choked back tears. There were no tears there," he told one Spitzer sympathizer. At one point Mark Halperin, who was on set with Spitzer while cry-gate was playing out in real time, challenged Podhoretz to defend his crocodile claims. "I've been watching him for 20 years and the one thing you can say about him is that he's not a good actor," Podhoretz responded. ""Did you see tears running down his cheeks?" he asked Politico's Dylan Byers. "See, because when people cry, usually these things called tears run down their cheeks." BuzzFeed's Dorsey Shaw was skeptical, too. "Did Eliot Spitzer Cry This Morning On MSNBC?" he asked, without passing judgment.
There are others, like me and New York's Dan Amira, who think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. "That doesn't mean Spitzer's emotion was necessarily fake, but if it wasn't, he certainly has good timing," Amira writes. It was demanded of Spitzer to show emotion, by Mika Brzezinski, and he did his absolute best to muster up a couple of tears or, at least, look like he was trying.