A regional story I’m following is about a former Portland mayor, Oregon governor and member of President Jimmy Carter‘s administration. Neil Goldschmidt carried on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl while he was in his thirties and mayor of Portland. The local alternative weekly finally reported what happened last week — 30 years after the events. The Oregonian, known for its chummy relationship with the business community, provided a platform for Goldschmidt to try to wriggle out of responsibility. Once he learned another medium was about to publish a well-researched article about the sexual predation, Goldschmidt hurriedly ‘confessed‘. The crafty old power broker used the Oregonian to color the molestation an ‘affair.’ He masterfully spun the episode and coverup so that he appeared to be the victim. Molestation of a minor is a felony in Oregon.
The woman’s life went down the drain after the three-year period of molestation and a subsequent rape. She is permanently mentally disabled. Meanwhile, Goldschmidt prospered, becoming an extremely wealthy lobbyist for big business. The Seattle Times described his impact on Pacific Northwest politics.
The revelations dramatically end the career of one of Oregon’s most influential public figures. At age 32, he became the nation’s youngest big-city mayor, going on to become transportation secretary for the Carter administration and Oregon governor from 1986 to 1990. He was an executive with Nike and has been a successful international trade consultant since the early 1990s.
People usually prefer to identify with the victors, not the victims. Much of commentary about the episode posted at Willamette Week, which broke the story, supports Goldschmidt. Some people say the exploitation of the child — both a felony and a violation of the public trust — should have remained a secret. Several persons blame the woman, saying she must be a grifter or seducer. It doesn’t seem to matter that she was in junior high school when the episode occurred. The most strikng reason to side with a powerful man offered is that he is a liberal and a Democrat. The commenter says that Willamette Week should not have published the article because of its liberal editorial stance.
Posted by James on Saturday, May 8 2004
Liberal Newspaper Deals Out Conservat[i]ve Victory
The Willamette Week is a paper that is read primarily by common Portland liberals, but with this article, you work against yourselves and inflict extreme damage to the Oregon Democratic Party. This story should never have been published. If you people consider yourselves democrats , then you must certainly are also hipocrites. Go get real jobs. This kind of newsreporting is the equivalent of flipping hamburgers. I will never read the Willamette Week again. [Unedited, except for title.]
‘James’ and some others continue on in that vein. As if those of us who consider ourselves on the Left wing of political spectrum don’t already know that we have our share of miscreants among us, and, that some of them are our leaders. It matters not a whit that Goldschmidt was a liberal Democrat during his political career. He was also a child molester. To refrain from reporting the story if one is a journalist or to refrain from holding Goldschmidt responsible because one is a liberal would be the height of hypocrisy. Felonous behavior overrules political considerations. It is amazing that there are people too myopic to see such an obvious truth.
Willamette Week‘s cover story describing how a popular, powerful man molested a powerless minor, and kept the situation secret for three decades, is a fine example of investigative reporting. I urge you to read it.