Pirro's Debacle Puts Electroshocks Into Flailing Race

The press has to love the sway of a prosecutor. “I want to say something,” Jeanine Pirro said, at Baruch College, shortly after noon on Oct. 3.

It was at the end of the allotted time for her presentation to the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. She had spoken well, coming off convincingly as a friend of the environment, and only referring conspicuously to her written speech near the end. Her fellow New York State Attorney General candidate, Andrew Cuomo, was to speak after her.

“Go!” said the event’s co-chair.

“No, or go?” Ms. Pirro asked.

“Go!” he said.

There was mild excitement in the fluorescent-sedated schoolroom. “We are seeing the flow of meth—” Ms. Pirro began, and the temperature fell. Oh. The drug war meets environmental legal policy? Dullsville! Or certainly, at least, not the goods the press was waiting for.

Ms. Pirro is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a conversation with former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik regarding the feasibility of recording her husband. She suspected her husband was having an affair, a thing that would not be surprising, particularly as he had done such things before.

The still photographers present at Baruch tended to take pictures of Ms. Pirro most when she would extend her hands aggressively. Viewers of these photographs might not know that she was only enthusing about the cleanliness of the Hudson River. They would not know that her little bracelet jangled girlishly in real life.

Those present seemed not to have perked up as much earlier, when Ms. Pirro had said that “there is a fundamental concept in criminal justice—accountability and responsibility.”

The talk was over.

Channel 7 moved to the door.

NY1 moved to the door.

Ms. Pirro clasped her chest.

In a gray-blue suit, a bit tight, Ms. Pirro obeyed the strange law that asserts a correlation between skirt-above-the-knee distance and the heel height of her dark pumps—two and a half inches or so, give or take a rise from a bend from the waist. She did not seem to be wearing hose.

Ms. Pirro was escorted out with the mob and into the door of Room 309, labeled “non-profit computer lab.” The real audience at the speeches had only been about 40 normal people. Twenty-five press people followed Ms. Pirro to the tight dead-end corridor outside, and waited in their rabbit hole.

The former district attorney of Westchester County, Ms. Pirro has made her career using the seduction tactics of the prosecutor. The press, having learned maybe not much over the last decade from the cases of, say, Kenneth Starr and Wen Ho Lee, or from the nightly crap-casts of avenging psycho Nancy Grace, is now compelled to go deep with the prosecutors, who have turned Ms. Pirro into an aggressive victim.

Ms. Pirro had not perhaps spent any time in years previous thinking of the victims of the press’ affection for prosecutors. But she certainly had been paying attention to the prosecutorial crucible that forged Hillary Clinton.

Now she has the only constituency she ever really wanted—the press, following the trail of a prosecutor, now following her wherever she went.

A woman reporter in the pack said, “Nothing says victory like a federal investigation.” Everyone had time for a BlackBerry check. No one really thinks Ms. Pirro has anything like a chance of beating Mr. Cuomo, but here they were.

Ms. Pirro came out into the tight little cluster. Her lipstick had been freshened.

“I know you’re all here today to get a primer on environmental policy,” Ms. Pirro said. She was all smiles.

“I want results,” Ms. Pirro said. But also: “I want people to focus on the issues.”

Ms. Pirro wanted Elliot Jacobson, the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecutor who assisted in the 2000 conviction of her possibly cheating husband for tax evasion, removed from her case. “The fact is, he is the prosecutor on this case. His behavior echoes his behavior of seven years ago,” she said.

She wanted an awful lot of things. “I want to clear my name,” she said. And “I want him off that case.”

Ms. Pirro would like her very own special prosecutor appointed, to investigate the transportation of information about her conversations with Mr. Kerik into the purview of the press, something she believes Mr. Jacobson had a hand in.

“This is nothing more than a smear campaign,” Ms. Pirro said, perhaps by way of introducing herself as a potential litigant.

“I am a strong woman,” she said. “I’ve confronted difficulties before.”

Ms. Pirro and four men and a campus cop got into an elevator to go down from the third floor. They stood there quietly. The doors took forever to close, and they creaked. Downstairs, she got into a white Explorer with a Rye Ford Subaru license-plate holder. She rolled down her window and said, “Thank you very much.” She would proceed as planned with a benefit that evening.

Some of the press seemed not to be staying for Mr. Cuomo. Some got in their own elevator down. “Pataki was a hell of a sound bite too,” said one man. Another made a snoring noise. “I’m sure it was scintillating,” he said sarcastically. Everyone else was boring them.