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Surprise! Arnold and the Times

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Susan Estrich, Professor of Sexual Discrimination Law at USC, author of “Sex and Power” and “Real Rape,” national campaign manager for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, offers her views on the L.A. Times’ late stories about Arnold.

Exactly as L.A. liberal pundit Mickey Kaus predicted on October 1st, the L.A. Times launched its biggest salvo against Arnold on October 2nd. Estrich shares her opinion in today’s Times:

What this story accomplishes is less an attack on Schwarzenegger than a smear on the press. It reaffirms everything that’s wrong with the political process. Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics.

Facing these charges, a candidate has two choices. If he denies them, the story keeps building and overshadows everything else he does. Schwarzenegger’s bold apology is a gamble to make the story go away. It may or may not work.

But here’s my prediction, as a Californian: It’s too late for the Los Angeles Times’ charges to have much impact. People have made up their minds. This attack, coming as late as it does, from a newspaper that has been acting more like a cheerleader for Gray Davis than an objective source of information, will be dismissed by most people as more Davis-like dirty politics. Is this the worst they could come up with? Ho-hum. After what we’ve been through?

To his credit, Schwarzenegger apologized for “behaving badly.” So should the Los Angeles Times.

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About Chris Arabia

  • what a load of crap.

  • To his credit? Pfft. Self-serving move. And too little, too late. Lucky for him, I don’t live in California.

  • Andrew

    Ms. Estrich, who has no use for men who abuse women (some years ago, she was a rape victim) and who is a Democrat and a lawyer who specializes in this particular area of practice, can speak to this issue with somewhat more credibility than most observers. I rather suspect most thinking people will agree with her; for one thing, she has been intellectually consistent on this subject over the years, as contrasted with some of those now rising to levels of high dungeon, i.e., NOW.

  • Andrew, I suspect you meant high dudgeon.

  • I interviewed Estrich in 92 and she was impressive talking about the rise of Bill Clinton and the role of money in politics (though her candidate, Dukakis, may be the only Democrat less appealing than Gray Davis).

    And Real Rape is a good book, but she is wrong here.

    She should understand why the women would want to remain anonymous, not have come forward earlier or pressed charges.

    If there truly was nothing to their stories, Arnold wouldn’t have said he had behaved badly. Maria wouldn’t have looked so pained standing next to him last night.

    Though I do hope Chris will post her next column critical of Bush with as much enthusiasm as this one.

  • Daily Howler:

    SUSAN’S LAMENT: Meanwhile, speaking of clowning performances, Susan Estrich was there in person last night as Hannity and Colmes did a live show from Philly. Estrich, of course, is a “Fox News Democrat”—is even more likely to trash her party than the “Hardball Dems” seen on MSNBC. Earlier in the California recall campaign, Estrich wrote a truly ludicrous op-ed column; in it, she trashed Arianna Huffington for ignoring her children while she conducted her race for the State House. But last night, Estrich was thoroughly miffed at the day’s reporting on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s groping and grabbing. The L. A. Times had landed on Arnold. And Estrich was there to complain:

    ESTRICH: This really troubles me. Everybody knows I’m a Democrat and I’m not a big Arnold voter, not by any stretch. But here’s what happened, for those of you who don’t know. It is the Thursday before the Tuesday of an election, and I don’t like cheap shots, I really don’t.

    So what does the Los Angeles Times do on the Thursday before the Tuesday? They come out, apparently after a seven-week investigation. They wait until Thursday, and they come up with an article that quotes anonymously four women and names two women.

    Estrich found several problems with the Times reporting, which she referred to as “garbage.” She was shocked to learn that some such reporting is based on anonymous accusers. (Accusers who didn’t want their names used were supported by interviews with named associates.) She implied that the Times had published suspect information, although Schwarzenegger had already apologized for his conduct. But she made her principal complaint two times. Here was her second iteration:

    ESTRICH: But here’s my point to the L. A. Times. If you had a serious story to run, if you thought there was serious misconduct, you don’t wait until the Thursday before the Tuesday. You run it early.

    The Times had been holding it back! Of course, as Estrich herself had noted, the Times said that its detailed report was the result of a seven-week investigation. And when had Schwarzenegger announced his run? He announced his run on August 6, just a bit more than seven weeks back. But Susan Estrich—on-message with Arnold—kept saying the Times had been holding it back. She presented no evidence that this was true. Somehow, Alan Colmes failed to notice.

    There may be real objections to such reporting, although we’re not entirely sure what they’d be. (We thought the supporting, on-the-record interviews made the anonymous interviews credible.) But how stupid is your current discourse? The Estrich segment provided a prime example. Estrich lodged a charge against the Times for which she provided no evidence whatever. But of course, you know how it works at Fox. “I agree with you,” Alan Colmes, the show’s “liberal,” quickly said. And Sean knew what to say at the end. “I thank Susan for being with us,” he said. “And for one other reason; she has shown us that she is an intellectually honest Democrat. We’re glad you’re here. Thank you.”

  • Tim

    Read Kausfiles.com for truly intelligent commentary — he not only agrees with Estrich, describing the LA Times piece as that shoe waiting to drop, but reports gleefully that this media hit is actually making Arnold go UP in the polls. The fact that Maria Shriver, a friggin’ Kennedy for crying out loud, is willing to live with and defend this allegedly Neanderthal man should be answer enough to these charges, which remain ludicrously anonymous, describe acts which DO NOT violate any law, and which, in the end, are a total smear job. It’s par for the course for Democrats, who have taken their once proud and decent party, and sleazed it in to the ground. I’l LOOOOOVE to hear what Clinton has to say about Arnold, BTW.

  • Mickey Kaus, kausfiles.com:

    The Groping story would have had lasting impact on the race even if it had been published a month before election day. Individual ‘Arnold-groped-me’ stories might be true or untrue–here’s today’s harvest–but enough are certainly true to make Schwarzenegger’s cruelty and piggishness in the recent past something voters should and would want to consider. The L.A. Times was right to publish them. Smoke, fire. (True, if the stories had come out earlier, that might have given Schwarzenegger more time to respond–but it would have deprived him of the “late hit” defense, as well as at least some of the 2 million absentee ballots already cast.)

  • You distort what otherwise would have been a reasonable contribution to the debate. You bolded “The L.A. Times was right to publish them,” but Kaus didn’t in the original, and you were quoting. Next time please put [Emphasis added.] in the appropriate place.

    The timing of the publication is one of many factors to consider in assessing the story. The primary issue should be Arnold’s (mis)behavior and its effects on others, but the L.A. Times opted to do what it thought would maximize political damage (also according to Kaus). If they failed in that goal, then they are incompetent as well as malicious. Hooray for them.