As Mickey Kaus points out, the lateness of the groping stories may help Arnold more than it would have hurt if the Times’ seven-week investigation had met the paper’s journalistic standards after only, say, four weeks. Now Arnold’s campaign can (falsely) claim that the Times stories are the product of a last-minute Davis “puke” campaign–plus, all those people who sent in absentee ballots for Schwarzenegger before the Gropenator stories were published can’t exactly change their votes, as much as they may want to. Apparently 2 million ballots have already been mailed in.
The Times weighs in with more hard-to-ignore stories again today:
Four more women have come forward to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger fondled, spanked or touched them in incidents they said took place as recently as 2000 and as long ago as 1979.
In all, 15 women have now accused the Republican candidate for governor of grabbing or groping them. On the campaign trail Saturday, Schwarzenegger denounced as a “puke campaign” news reports that he has behaved abusively toward women.
The women who agreed Saturday to tell their stories publicly are:
A 51-year-old woman who said Schwarzenegger pinned her to his chest and spanked her shortly after she met him at a West Los Angeles post-production studio in 2000.
Tamee Smith, 46, who said Schwarzenegger followed her into a bathroom on a studio lot and grabbed her breast during work on the movie “Predator” in 1986.
Jan Prinzmetal, 50, who said Schwarzenegger reached under her skirt and grabbed her bare buttocks outside a Venice gym in the mid-1980s.
Elizabeth Rothner, 45, who said Schwarzenegger lifted her sweatshirt at a popular Santa Monica bar in 1979, exposing her bare breasts before a crowd.
The Times provided details of each of the new allegations to Schwarzenegger’s campaign Saturday. The candidate’s spokesman, Sean Walsh, said Schwarzenegger had said that the accounts of three of the women were untrue. Walsh said Schwarzenegger had no recollection of the alleged Venice gym incident.
“Arnold has acknowledged that at times his behavior, while good-natured, could be rowdy and bawdy,” Walsh said. “He has apologized to those who felt offended. Arnold has stated, when he began his campaign, that he did not live his life under the expectation that he would someday be governor.”
After The Times reported Thursday that Schwarzenegger had inappropriately touched women, he offered a general apology for “behaving badly” in the past, saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” He has denied that several of the specific incidents took place and said he had no recollection of others.
Ten of the women who have come forward have given their names. Five spoke on the condition that they not be named, saying they feared repercussions.
The woman who said Schwarzenegger spanked her in 2000 at the post-production studio said Saturday that she had decided to tell her story when the candidate seemed to dismiss the accounts of women who said he had groped them. Had he not run for governor, she said, she would never have come forward.
The woman said she wished to remain anonymous because she works in the entertainment industry.
In the summer of 2000, she was working part time at a West Los Angeles sound studio, where Schwarzenegger was doing post-production work on the film “The Sixth Day,” she said.
The woman said she had introduced herself to the actor in the recording studio and told him to let her know if he needed any coffee, juice or snacks. Shortly after she left the room, the woman said, Schwarzenegger and another man came out. The man said Schwarzenegger wanted his raisin bagel toasted, the woman said.
She said Schwarzenegger followed her to the kitchen, spun her around, pinned her to his chest and swatted her buttocks five or six times. Then, she said, he whispered in her ear: “This is what should happen at your house every morning.”
“I was so frightened and angry at the same time,” the woman said. “There was a certain sense of powerlessness…. I never commented [to him]. The level of embarrassment was pretty severe.”
When Schwarzenegger loosened his grip, the woman said, she ran out. But Schwarzenegger followed, grabbing her hands and commenting on her lack of a wedding ring, she said. As she started walking back to the recording studio, she said, Schwarzenegger told her: “By the way, I love it that you’re not wearing underwear.” The woman said that she retorted: “I am wearing underwear, you idiot.”
“It was playful for him,” she said. “It was not at all playful for me.”
The woman said she told the facility’s coordinator, Jeff Schwartz, about the incident but declined his offer to pursue the matter with his bosses. “I told him: I was a grown-up and I can handle it, but if anything like this happens again I’m going to take action.”
Schwartz, interviewed Saturday, said he remembered her complaint.
“She definitely was taken aback and shocked,” Schwartz said. “The big thing was that he actually smacked her on the butt. I definitely felt it was inappropriate.”
The woman said Schwarzenegger continued to harass her for the next two weeks, pulling her onto his lap, grabbing her hand and kissing it, or putting his hands on her shoulders. But at other times, she said, he was well-mannered and charming.
Smith said Schwarzenegger cornered and grabbed her while she was working as an assistant to a producer on the 1987 movie “Predator.” The Times contacted her after learning that she had related the incident in April 2002 at a panel discussion on women in Hollywood held on the USC campus.
Smith said the encounter occurred after location shooting, while actors were doing special-effects work in the Los Angeles area. She said Schwarzenegger had appeared at a producer’s office on the Fox studio lot, looking for her boss, who was not there. Schwarzenegger said he would wait, according to Smith.
Smith said that when she got up to use the bathroom, Schwarzenegger followed her. She said the two were alone in the office, which she described as a converted bungalow. “I wasn’t even all the way in. I don’t think the door was closed, and he was right behind me.” Smith said.
“He grabbed me from behind with his right hand. He clamped it over my boob and was wrestling with me. He was just basically saying he wanted me and I was saying, ‘No, no, no.’ ”
She said he then asked about her breasts: ” ‘Are they real? I want to know, are they real?’ He wouldn’t let go. I fought him. The size of his biceps coming across my chest, they were enormous. I couldn’t get away from him at all. It wasn’t until I said something about Maria” Shriver, his wife, she said, “that he dropped me, dropped me fast and walked out of the bathroom and out” of the bungalow.
Afterward, she said, she remained in the bungalow and cried. “I was upset,” she said. “I was scared. I was all those things. Eventually, my girlfriend came in, and I told her what happened.”
That girlfriend, Elaine Thompson, also a crew member on the film, told The Times that Smith was “very shaken.”
Thompson said Smith told her that Schwarzenegger “wasn’t violent but he definitely had sort of overpowered her in a way that she felt powerless…. I tried to say, this is just sometimes what Arnold does. I said, ‘You know what he’s like. You know how he kids around and makes off-color comments.’ ”
Thompson said that she, too, had been groped by Schwarzenegger during location filming in Mexico in 1986. She said she was posing for a picture with crew members of “Predator.”
Arnold’s strategy has been both to deny and not deny these Gropenator stories. He claims certain of them are not true, but admits that others probably are, although he “can’t remember” any of them.
If he can’t remember any of them, how can he deny any of them? He remembers that some didn’t happen, but specifically forgot whether others did? How does he know he didn’t “forget” the ones he’s denying?
1) The morning after his surprising announcement, Arnold claims he “can’t hear” Matt Lauer when the anchor asks him, in a remote interview, whether he will release his tax returns. The statement is clearly a lie–Lauer says almost as much at the time, and later the crew determines there was nothing wrong with the audio equipment. It’s not only a lie–it’s a lie that has almost no chance of success.
2) Arnold at first claimed to have voted but was revealed to have missed almost half the elections since 1992. He tried, vaguely, to palm this off on assistants who apparently didn’t send out his absentee ballots in the mail. Over a period of 10 years. But only absentee ballots. Other mail they managed to send out. Right.
3) He said he was not going to take money from special interests. Then he did.
4) He said he would not engage in negative campaigning. He has since made fun of Bustamante’s appearance and launched negative ads against Gray Davis.
5) He claims he “can’t remember” what happened during his meeting with Enron’s Ken Lay and others at the height of the state’s energy crisis.
6) Let me run that one by you again: He claims he “can’t remember” what happened during his meeting with Enron’s Ken Lay and others at the height of the state’s energy crisis. He can’t remember? This was in May 2000. It was Ken Lay. Lay beckoned A.S. to the meeting. A.S. came. But, darn it, poor Arnie just can’t remember what happened in that meeting. Would you accept this explanation from Gray Davis? From Cruz Bustamante? Can you imagine McClintock saying such a thing? Of course not–he’d be crucified for it. Why would we accept this from Arnold?
There are at least 50 more reasons not to vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger.