And YouThought Whores Only Advertised on Backpage.com*

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

A TV producer forwarded me this email, which Mr. Steinberger sent to him. I’m guessing he sent it to quite a few other producers, too. I’ve emphasized my favorite part.

As a Celebrity Criminal Defense Attorney, Former Prosecutor, Law Professor, and Judge Pro Tem, Attorney [Jeffrey] Steinberger can provide expert legal commentary regarding any story involving any Celebrity Arrests, Conviction or Sentencing (i.e. Drug Rehab; Jail Time; Alternative Sentencing, etc.).

Attorney Steinberger is available to discuss all civil matters as well and any other legal matter not mentioned above.

Attorney Steinberger is able to take a position on either side of any case– defense or prosecution.

In Attorney Steinberger’s 15 years of doing “hits” for all the major news channels, I have provided legal commentary for CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and ABC, NBC, CBS news networks, as well as CourtTV, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and Showbiz Tonight.

More on cable news here.

(*I apologize in advance to any whores who might (justifiably) be offended by me including Mr. Steinberger among their number.)

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41 Responses to “And YouThought Whores Only Advertised on Backpage.com*”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’m confused. I saw the headline and thought it was going to be an upbeat story, but it turned out that, instead of talking about beautiful women who bring honest joy, excitement, and a moment of ecstasy to people, you started talking about some self-absorbed asshole attorney.

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Radley: what is your point? Lawyers advocate for a position. That is their job (unlike prosecutors, who are state employees and ARE supposed to work for justice and the society). As a lawyer, my job is to fix the problems of those who I represent. If I was a sales clerk for Apple, would you expect me to be selling you an Android phone? Do you expect the Chevy dealer to sell you a Toyota?

  3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Horrifying police brutality story of the day.

    The good news is that these were just a few bad apples.

    The bad news is that cops are almost all bad apples.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Oops. #3 was posted in the wrong place. Sorry.

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    Every attorney can be a hero or scoundrel, depending on what side you are in an argument. This week I did a probono case to help a wounded veteran get his benefits from the VA, but a taxpayer would be justified in saying that I just raised his costs. Analogously, Radley is simultaneously a tool of the Koch brothers and a child hating liberal.

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    #3 Dave: at least with real bad apples you can make booze.

  7. #7 |  Don’t trust this con man — or almost anybody else on ‘TV news’ « David McElroy | 

    [...] Balko has an amazing little nugget of information at his excellent Agitator blog today that you really need to see. Balko received an email from a TV [...]

  8. #8 |  David McElroy | 

    SJE, when an attorney is appearing somewhere representing a client, he is entitled to say or do whatever is in the best interests of that client. When he appears on TV as an “expert,” we are entitled to assume he is giving his honest opinion. Steinberger is admitting that he’s an actor who’s willing to play whatever role the TV people need him to play. It’s not illegal, but it should be chilling to anyone who gets his news and information from TV.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    #7: I see your point. However, there are two people at fault (1) the lawyer, if he pretends to be a disinterested expert and (2) the network for hiring him to appear. The reason I don’t watch much TV any more is that so many of the “experts” are nothing more than shills for a particular perspective.

  10. #10 |  Rob | 

    You know how aspiring lawyers get ready for law school? Debate. You know how debate works? You flip a coin and passionately argue whichever side of the resolution that fate assigns you. Then a few hours later you go to another round and flip that coin again. In either case, you have evidence, research and the law to back you up. I trust that Mr. Steinberger will be fully prepared with the facts on either side which he is called upon to argue, and I see nothing wrong here.

  11. #11 |  David McElroy | 

    I’m not defending the networks. They’re just as much to blame as this con man. “TV news” is an oxymoron. Turning off that box is the solution, not just finding attorneys to tell the truth.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I agree that the cable and network news shows are now all about ratings. There is no incentive to be truthful or unbiased. I don’t think there is such a thing as objective news reporting.

    If you’re a republican, you get your news from Fox News. If you’re a democrat you get it from CNN, NPR, MSNBC, or the Daily Show. If you’re a libertarian, you get it from Reason TV.

    But mostly, if you’re an American, you just don’t get it at all. We live in a democracy, so the will of the people will prevail and there can never be tyranny. So why worry as long as you keep getting one of the 100,000,000 checks that the government prints every month (according to MSNBC).

  13. #13 |  David McElroy | 

    Dave, as an ex-journalist, I can wholeheartedly agree that there’s no such thing as objectivity, even when you’re trying. The best you can hope for is to be fair and honest. I think the best thing is for journalists to admit their biases, not pretend they don’t have them. We were better off in the days of “yellow journalism” when different newspapers openly pushed different agendas. At least you knew what you were getting and could compare perspectives honestly, knowing where they came from. Even beyond that, the medium of television itself makes it (literally) impossible to convey information that could be conveyed in what Neil Postman called “the typographic age.” Today’s people watch a “show” — which is the right word for it — and think they’re informed, when they’ve actually just watched performer (many of whom don’t even understand what they’re talking about, but they at least look good).

  14. #14 |  Satori | 

    I do understand the humor intended in this post. But as someone who believes that prostitution is a legitimate profession that should be legalized, do you have to use such a degrading word to refer to it?

  15. #15 |  George E | 

    In many situations, there are points to be made for either (any) side. Typically any given side is neither pure good nor pure evil, and it’s possible to recognize some positive arguments favoring what for you is the wrong side. At least, it’s possible for those who are not bigoted or extremely narrow minded or perhaps just none too smart. I’d hardly label people whores who can see both sides of an issue and are willing to present either side in a discussion that engages multiple viewpoints.

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Whore is an arrangement of five letters. Words are only degrading if that is the intent of the speaker and I’m pretty certain Radley didn’t mean the term to be degrading.

    Radley is, in fact, known as a “friend of whores”.

  17. #17 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    Don’t apologize for offending these people. A system exists that allows Steinberger and others to profit off of a system where “experts” are trotted on for 30 second bits to keep people watching.

    It is your right to point out the ridiculousness of this system. I’m quite happy you do it.

  18. #18 |  JS | 

    This should be a news story but of course it won’t. I bet you anything they don’t bring attorney Steinberger on to discuss news programs who work to fill space and people who sell their opinion to the highest bidder.

  19. #19 |  Radley Balko | 

    Radley: what is your point?

    When “experts” appear on cable news, they’re presented as if they actually believe what they’re saying. I would be willing to bet most viewers believe the people on TV actually believe what they’re saying. This guy is openly advertising himself as someone who will pretend to believe whatever positions a news producer is looking for.

  20. #20 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Backpage.com? What, you mean to tell me that the state attorneys general campaign to harass craigslist didn’t bring an end to hookers advertising on the web? Say it ain’t so!

    -jcr

  21. #21 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #14: Satori, some whores dislike being called whores, but many of us have taken the word for ourselves in the same way gay men took “queer” and lesbians reclaimed “dyke”. If you remember your history, “Yankee” was originally intended as an insult. The first question in my May Q & A column discusses this subject: http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/may-q-a/

    I’ve said before in my column that lawyers are the biggest whores; after all, we only have to provide the illusion of affection in private for a short time, but lawyers have to provide the illusion of loyalty in public for weeks, months or years. That’s not a problem in and of itself, though I must admit I’m a bit dismayed by Mr. Steinberger’s tactless hailing of every passing limo; a discreet ad is so much more professional.

  22. #22 |  croaker | 

    @20 IIRC, Backpage.com is a product of the Village Voice, which has already gone on record stating that the first DA to tell them to kill sex worker ads is going to have his “request” returned as a suppository.

  23. #23 |  BoscoH | 

    For years, when they have a caption like “Jeffrey Steinberger, Attorney” on the bottom of the screen, I’ve read it as “Jeffrey Steinberger, Media Whore”. I think it would be super awesome for some ironic trickster person to show up on Red Eye and do that. Make us proud Radley!

  24. #24 |  Joey Maloney | 

    This fellow has found an unserved niche in the market and he’s making money by filling it. There’s no force or fraud involved, he’s merely offering his labor in the free market. Isn’t that how the libertarian paradise is supposed to work? What’s the problem here?

  25. #25 |  BoscoH | 

    Actually Joey (#24), there is fraud involved. It’s perpetrated on the audience, who are led to believe that the experts truly believe their opinions. It may often be even more insidious, because it gives a legitimacy to positions that might really not have willing defenderds. Both sides. Fair and balanced. Etc.

  26. #26 |  EH | 

    I’m not defending the networks. They’re just as much to blame as this con man.

    I don’t agree. I think the con man is much worse for actually being a con man.

  27. #27 |  David McElroy | 

    EH, they’re both conning people. Why is he worse than the other party to the dishonesty? They know who and what he is. They tell him what they want him to do. Steinberger appears every now and then to do his con. The networks are there every day pretending. How are they any less vile?

  28. #28 |  Mister DNA | 

    This fellow has found an unserved niche in the market and he’s making money by filling it.

    Yeah, any time I watch the mainstream media, that’s the first thing that crosses my mind: “Why aren’t there more unethical media whores on TV?”

  29. #29 |  BSK | 

    Joey-

    I don’t think that is the point. No one is saying he CAN’T do this. Or shouldn’t be allowed to do it. We’re just pointing out the sleaziness and dishonesty of the act. I’m no card carrying member of libertarianism, though I agree with many of the general sentiments. The ideal way to respond to actions like this is not with the law but by exposing the con artist for what he is, thereby discrediting him and leaving him in no position to sell his services. Of course, he’d then likely sue for slander or libel and, case or not, make his critics’ lives hell.

  30. #30 |  Radley Balko | 

    This fellow has found an unserved niche in the market and he’s making money by filling it. There’s no force or fraud involved, he’s merely offering his labor in the free market. Isn’t that how the libertarian paradise is supposed to work?

    I’m not calling for this guy to be banned from going on TV, or for any legal action to be taken against him. I’m pointing out that he’s an opinion for hire, and he’s contributing to the idiocracy of cable news. Judging by past comments, you know the difference. But you still make the moronic “libertarian paradise” comment. Keep trolling, and you’ll won’t be posting here anymore.

  31. #31 |  John David Galt | 

    I would have called him a mercenary rather than a whore. But either way, so what? I suspect many of the anchors and reporters on cable news aren’t speaking from the heart either. Then there are all the lobbyists and political consultants who can make you rich in Washington if you have no principles.

    I’m sorry if you think this is trolling, but the only point I can find to your piece is that there are insincere/unprincipled “experts” for hire — but then, most of the jobs in the world ultimately amount to fooling the client into believing you care about him, so why should “experts” be any different? Of course, there are jobs where you’re supposed to be objective (judge, referee, financial advisor, scientist/lab tech) but to expect that of TV personalities is pretty naive.

  32. #32 |  Manju | 

    Maybe the guy’s onto something. I would like to see the network assign the position a pundit must take.

    Krugman shows up at Meet the Press and he must tie Fannie and Freddie to the crash. Kudlow, derivatives. Camille Paglia on why Lady Gaga is better than Madonna. Maryann says Ginger is hotter. You get the picture.

    Their pay depends on how well they defend their position. Somehow, I think this will solve everything.

  33. #33 |  JOR | 

    Can we stop calling lawyers, politicians, pundits, etc. whores, yet?

    I mean, what did whores ever do to deserve that? No dishonor or deceit or fakery or obnoxiousness is necessarily involved in whoredom.

  34. #34 |  wheeler | 

    it’s not his willingness to argue any position that bothers me. as others have said, that’s what lawyers do.

    the ridiculous claim, i think, is his statement that he can offer an opinion on any criminal or civil matter. that’s not only b.s., but also why – in most instances – when t.v. news shows trot out an “expert,” instead of any real insights, you get thirty seconds of generalized opinions that ANY reasonably informed person has already considered.

  35. #35 |  David McElroy | 

    I find it odd that people who want to indirectly criticize libertarians think they’re scoring a point when they point out that something we don’t like is completely legal under our system. Don’t they understand that the whole point of our belief system is that people ARE free — and should be free — to do things that we believe are vile, as long as they’re not coercing anyone?

  36. #36 |  Greg C | 

    #34,
    A lot of Libertarians don’t seem to understand that, either.

  37. #37 |  albatross | 

    My understanding is that this is very widespread–typically, I think the producer of the show just wants people who will make an interesting show that doesn’t p–s off the advertisers or management too much, but that the spokesmen who end up on these shows are very often drawing a paycheck from one side or another, even when they pretend to be neutral experts. The case of this that immediately comes to mind is the pentagon military advisors scandal, where all the networks brought retired generals and admirals on to put the war news in perspective, and those retired generals and admirals were all doing extensive business with the pentagon, and were having meetings where they were given talking points. Similarly, I gather that it’s very common for PR firms to boast about their ability to get their spokesmen on TV news programs, to ghostwrite op-Ed pieces, and to influence news coverage in other ways. (A stunning amount of news comes out of various forms of press releases.)

    Is there a good link to an article or book that really details this industry? The brokenness of our political system seems to me to be more or less a reflection of the brokenness of our system for getting informed about what the political system is up to.

  38. #38 |  SJE | 

    Thanks Radley and others. I think that the blame lies with the media more than the particular whore. As a lawyer, I have found that there are always clients and “experts” who will say whatever they think will get them money. I will never accept them lying to a court, government agency, etc and will not accept them making a submission if I even think that they are lying. Perhaps that makes me a bad lawyer, but I find that it pays off in the long run.

  39. #39 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #33: Well, to be fair, whores do engage in a lot of deceit and fakery, but it wouldn’t be fun for our customers if we didn’t because the fakery is a lot of what they’re paying for. But dishonor and obnoxiousness are another matter entirely, and no whore who indulges in them to any great degree will stay in the upper echelons of the profession for very long. Of course, it’s just the opposite for politicians.

  40. #40 |  August 3 roundup | 

    [...] Attorney keen to go on TV, will take any case, either side [Balko] [...]

  41. #41 |  The Briefcase » Friday Roundup | 

    [...] courtesy of this email by lawyer Jeffrey Steinberger, sent to various TV producers (hat tip to The Agitator): As a Celebrity Criminal Defense Attorney, Former Prosecutor, Law Professor, and Judge Pro Tem, [...]

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