Spitzer, Stewart and the rest of the media struggle to make sense of Weinergate

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After the scandal known as Weinergate reached its bizarre fever pitch with Rep. Anthony Weiner's late afternoon press conference at a Midtown Manhattan Sheraton on Monday, the media caught its collective breath long enough to resume the coverage strategy that landed the story atop the Monday news cycle in the first place: plying juicy fodder for primetime news programming and morning tabloids.

CNN devoted most of its primetime news programming to Weinergate—including "In The Arena" with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a guy who knows a thing or two about political sex scandals.

As Daily Intel noted, Spitzer began his CNN show calling Weiner's teary press conference "cringe-worthy," adding: "Believe me, I know, I've been there."

Spitzer then led a discussion about Weiner's political future with Democratic strategist James Carville, former New York representative Rick Lazio and CNN "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz. Unlike the Schwarzenegger sex scandal—during which Spitzer remained conspicuously silent—the former New York governor faced down his own sordid past, and handled the segment without too much awkwardness.

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow used Weiner's admission as an opportunity to chart all of the modern political sex scandals ("The Post-Bill Clinton Modern American Political Sex Scandal Consequence-O-Meter") by their level of perceived creepiness and prosecutability. Not surprisingly, John Edwards and John Ensign tied for creepiest and most prosecutable.

Jon Stewart, who hilariously defended Weiner—who he calls his "friend"—last week, had to reluctantly address the latest turn in the case during a "Daily Show" segment called "Jon Stewart unloads on Anthony Weiner's chest." Stewart who noted that Andrew Breitbart "Kanye'd" Weiner's press conference, said, "this is the weirdest f---ing story I've ever seen in my life, or the greatest episode of 'Maury' ever."

It's worth noting that, outside of, say, "The Situation Room," Stewart and his Emmy Award-winning team of writers had the least amount of time of anyone on cable to digest the 4:00 p.m. presser--which ended at about 5:00 p.m.--for its 6:15 taping.

For yesterday's "Daily Show" broadcast, the show's writers ended up retooling much of the show's opening segment at the last minute, according to a source at the show. The writing revisions reportedly delayed rehearsal by more than 30 minutes. Expect more on "Weinergate" on tonight's "Daily Show," as the staff will have a full day to write.

Meanwhile, in the much-watched race among New York tabloids to produce the best Weiner headline, there were no clear winners:

New York Post: NAKED TRUTH
Daily News: YEAH, I'M A SCHMUCK
Newdsay: THE NAKED TRUTH

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today all featured Weiner on their covers, though with less salacious headlines.