Eliot Spitzer and Silda Wall Spitzer leave the news conference at which Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor of New York, citing "private failings."
Eliot Spitzer and Silda Wall Spitzer leave the news conference at which Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor of New York, citing "private failings." Magnolia Pictures
Before a prostitution scandal ended his political career, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was a crusading prosecutor known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street." As New York's attorney general, he targeted corruption and shady business practices at some of the biggest financial institutions in the country.
Filmmaker Alex Gibney's new documentary, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, suggests that Spitzer's demise wasn't just about sex — that the many enemies Spitzer made on Wall Street and in the New York state capital at Albany may have contributed to his political demise.
"It's hard to imagine that he didn't think he would get caught in some way," Gibney tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "He knew very clearly that he had some very, very powerful enemies who wanted him to fall — and [paying for sex] was courting danger in the most extreme way possible."
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Alex Gibney is currently directing a film about Lance Armstrong. His previous documentaries include
Alex Gibney is currently directing a film about Lance Armstrong. His previous documentaries include Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Gibney interviewed several of Spitzer's adversaries for the film, as well as the woman who provided Spitzer with sexual partners and Spitzer himself. He says that the production team didn't shy away from anything during their interview with the former governor.
"The only deal that we made was that if we discovered anything that was new, that hadn't been known before, we would share it with him," Gibney explains. "It took us a long time to get though the door. ... But I think over time, we were able to make a pretty good argument to him that in order for him to move forward, he would have to reckon with the past. And I think he knew that we were going to do the story anyway, and he wanted to have his say."
Gibney has directed documentaries about Jack Abramoff, the Enron scandal and the lives of Jimi Hendrix and Hunter S. Thompson. He won an Academy Award for his 2007 documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, about abuses in the war on terror.