Friday, October 3, 2003

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The disgusting Los Angeles Times

In the past 48 hours, the Los Angeles Times has managed to commit two despicable acts on its pages. The first was the Arnold Schwarzenegger story, which Mickey Kaus predicted would happen if the Times thought Schwarzenegger had a chance of winning. [You saying the story is not relevant?--ed. I'm saying the story has been around since Premiere published parts of it two years ago. Schawzenegger has been a candidate for two months, and now they decide to run it?] The fact that Gray Davis has apparently done worse things goes without mention. Kaus points out the following irony:

Jill Stewart was just on MSNBC's Abrams Report referring to her published New Times L.A. articles that, she says, charge Gov. Gray Davis with "physically attacking his own staffers, female staffers." Stewart says she was told the L.A. Times didn't follow up on her pieces because it didn't want to rely on anonymous sources!

I agree with Andrew Sullivan, by the way, that Arnold handled it appropriately by addressing the issue head-on and openly apologizing -- a lesson that would serve the Bushies well right about now.

The Schwarzenegger story, however, is piddling compared to the fact that the Times permitted Philip Agee to write an op-ed on the Plame Game (link via William Sjostrom). Agee published the names of several CIA covert employees during the 70's and now has Cuban citizenship.

I saw Agee in action fifteen years ago when he spoke at Williams College. I can honestly say that it may have been the only talk I have attended that made me physically sick to my stomach. At that talk, Agee, in respomding to a question from the audience, outright accused the CIA of having developed the AIDS virus as a way to destroy both African countries and African-Americans. This guy makes Noam Chomsky look like a hard-nosed conservative.

If the Los Angeles Times thinks Agee is the person to write an op-ed about the Plame Game, perhaps they'll contact Marc Rich the next time a questionable pardon is made. Shame on the op-ed page. [But they let Susan Estritch blast the Schawzenegger story on the op-ed page!--ed. Goody for them. That doesn't excuse publishing Agee]

UPDATE: COINTELPRO has more on Agee.

posted by Dan on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM


Of course the same people blasting the Arnold reveleations were also disgusted, yes disgusted when the Bustamante/Mecha stuff came out.


posted by: Vital Information on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

I agree on the Agee part, but a politician's sex life has apparantly become fair game and I fail to see how the LA Times investigation is so extraordinary. After the "porn interview" commotion it seemed pretty obvious journalists were going to pry further. The argument that the Times doesn't publish negative things on Davis doesn't fly, even if they decided not to follow up on this one.

posted by: zaoem on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Sex became fair game once the Republicans abused the independent counsel process in their witch-hunt of Clinton. They must now reap what they have sown. Maybe Rush could comment on the whole thing today during one of his apparently rare lucid moments.

posted by: ROTFLOL on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

1) The LA Times apparently went around looking for women to say bad things about Arnold, and waited until the last couple of days before the election to publish accusations from anonymous sources. I don't think they'll be getting the Pulitzer Prize for this. Don't they care at all about their reputation?

2) Agee - I guess the LA Times really doesn't care at all about their reputation. This is the kind of crap you'd expect to find in Mother Jones or

posted by: douglevene on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Sex became fair game once the Republicans abused the independent counsel process in their witch-hunt of Clinton. They must now reap what they have sown.

I see and the fact that Schwarzenegger publicly (and wrongly) opposed impeaching President Clinton for his perjury and witnesses tampering does not seem to register at all with the "Get Arnold" crowd. If this was supposed to be some form of "payback," then this was a pretty poor choice of targets.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

BTW, as to the timing, I find the timing not the oddest at all. Arnold only entered politics a few months ago. The allegations of groping and such were out there from the start. See for instance, the story in Premiere a few years ago. Yet, before Arnold entered politics, why would the LATimes follow up on the story. Only know is the story valid. And do you not think it takes time to "get" the story. As someone who does investigations for a living, I know that these things just do not happen. The LATimes wanted the story to be as strong as possible including multiple victims and people who would speak for the record. They had to balance this with timing, unlike the WaPo and Bob Packwood or the Tribune and George Ryan, there was no way the Times was going to run this after the election.

Finally, and most important: a) Arnold admits the story's are basicially true; b) This is not about consentual sex, it is about assault, harrasment and humiliation. Believe me, what Clinton did with Monica was wrong, wrong for a lot of reasons, but if you fail to see the distiction here, well, all that Bill Bennet stuff about virtue, moral relativism and rights and wrongs did not hit you at all.

posted by: Vital Information on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Arnold admits the story's are basicially true;

No he didn’t and I defy you or anyone to find anything in his press conference in which he said that the allegations were true.

This is not about consentual sex, it is about assault, harrasment and humiliation. Believe me, what Clinton did with Monica was wrong, wrong for a lot of reasons,

Except of course the Clinton was not impeached for “consensual sex.” He was impeached for perjury and witness tampering which are both immoral and felonies, the latter of which makes them impeachable offenses.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

You may also recall that Clinton's purgery was in a _sexual harrassment suit_. The left's response, that lying about sex is ok, even in a suit about sexual harrassment, was and is breathtaking in its nihilism.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

I agree with Andrew Sullivan, by the way, that Arnold handled it well by openly apologizing -- a lesson that would serve the Bushies well right about now.

This would imply that prima facie "the Bushies" have something to apologize for. To make that assertion requires the following unproven assumptions:

1) Valerie Plame was an undercover agent for the CIA

2) She was undercover in the correct time frame to make "outing" her a crime under the 1982 law.

3) A "Bushie" did the outing.

None of these assumptions have been conclusively proven.

posted by: Eric Deamer on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

why on earth is it more likely that a
"Bushie" sabatoged the Bush admin rather than a Clinton remnant in the state dept.?

if anything, the unjustified assumptions should lean in this direction, shouldn't they?

posted by: Dustin on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The LATimes is so predictable it's almost comical. The same paper that bashed "the politics of personal destruction" now engaging in the same practice. It isn't "News" because the story has been available for some time. It isn't good journalism because a majority of the "informants" were anonymous and the LATimes has previously declined to run story's that had anonymous sources. So, when does the LATimes apologize? Don't hold your breath even for a second. This isn't about News; it isn't about reporting; it is solely and totaly about a last minute bombshell designed with one idea; to discredit someone who the LATimes opposes politically. For Shame!

posted by: George on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Whee. Things are breaking so fast I can't keep up with them. Ah-nold has been revealed as the love child of Hitler and Eva Braun. Rush Limbaugh's wife left him and moved in with Donovan McNabb (she was an undercover CIA operative anyway), and Rush has been supplying hillbilly heroin to the Russian Mafia in exchange for WMD smuggled out of Iraq by Dick Cheney via Halliburton. Tucker Carlson almost choked to death when his bow tie accidentally got entwined with Bill Buckley's balls.

It's getting rough.

posted by: Buster on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The LA Times has softpedaled the major news stories in LA for decades--afraid to offend the local school board, any mayor or soil itself with real news. "Poly Sci 101" type editorials and nattering columnists (Patt Morrison STILL writes for them) have been their style. Endlessly blowing air into the Bustamante balloon. Now this--4 anonymous sources; one event more than 25 years ago; printed on election eve. Ah, to be a "journalist" at a "major" newspaper.

posted by: tim on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The LA Times has become the National Enquirer of the "treason set." If they like you, they are very obliging. If not, they will find something wrong.
Gray Davis obviously had more than a few instances of poor conduct himself (in a personal sense-- few people defend his conduct in office any more) but they were not reported. Bustamente had (maybe still has) ties to a group that can be considered racist but that has not been checked into. He has taken large sums of money connected to gambling. Where are the stories and investigations behind that?
Instead, the LA Times spent time and money to investigate rowdy incidents happening years ago. They argued a few years ago that checking back to see whether President Clinton might have actually RAPED someone a long while ago was ethically challenged. Now they check into whether someone they don't like might have touched a woman's breast. I'm sure Juanita Broaderrick (the woman who charged rape...many people don't know it since so many media outlets did not give any coverage) would have preferred having a breast fondled than being raped.
Why do the rest of the mainstream media even include the LA Times as a reputable news source?

posted by: rabblais on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The main problem here is not that they ran the story, it's that they apparently sat on the story until the most politically oppotune moment for the Davis campaign. While it's perfectly fine for a TV network to hold back a blockbuster show until Nielsen sweeps month, newspapers are not supposed to play games with supposed blockbuster stories so blatently. Almost all of the harrassment allegations were available to the paper at the start of the recall campaign and they should have run as soon as the Times had them, not at the last moment (although to be honest, I think this tactic has been done so often now in California politics it may be losing its shock value. We'll see when the final pre-election poll numbers come out).

posted by: John on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The reason the LA Times "investigation" is extraordinary is precisely because it wasn't an investigation. It didn't take 7 weeks to investigate.

Gary South, Davis' campaign manager shopped this story around to the tabloids years ago.

"Two years ago, the last time Schwarzenegger was considering a run for the governor's mansion, South gave him a taste of what a real fight might look like when there are no stunt doubles to take the fall. He faxed political reporters a copy of a highly unflattering magazine piece on the Terminator star which referred to allegations of womanising, touching women inappropriately and his past behaviour as a body-builder. He attached a helpful covering note: "Here is the long-awaited Premiere magazine exposé on might-be gubernatorial wannabe AH-nuhld Schwarzenegger... the piece lays out a real 'touching' story - if you get what I mean."

People did. Although friends of Schwarzenegger in the film world went public in his defence and attested to his moral decency, the faxes were seen as a warning shot of what might happen if he decided he wanted to mix it with the big boys".,12271,1014601,00.html

posted by: weimdog on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Sex became fair game once the Republicans abused the independent counsel process in their witch-hunt of Clinton.

Yes, Clinton was the first guy ever to be accused of sexual harrassment. Before Clinton, the Democrats would never have thought to drag out a tenuous sexual harrassment charge at the very last minute against, oh, say, a conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominee, would they? And they wouldn't have built numerous Senate campaigns the following year out of the idea that Republicans "don't get it" because they didn't just accept such charges unquestionably without proof, would they?

Let's recall whose favorite game this really is.

posted by: Crank on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

The LA Times has lost any ounce of credibility it had remaining. Just think: they sicced a squadron of experienced investigative journalists, including a Pulitzer Prize winner (can those be revoked?), onto the earthshaking matter of whether Arnold touched a woman's bum without her written consent.

Where was this team of crack investigators when California was bleeding billions at the time of the last gubernatorial election? Maybe if they'd been doing their job, writing about actual issues like (yawn, I know) runaway state budgets, we wouldn't be engaged in this recall right now.

Well, at least now the rest of the country knows what only Californians seem to have realized so far: the LA Times is the worst big-market newspaper in the nation.

Someone on the radio yesterday said that hundreds of people are calling the LA Times to cancel their subscriptions. It's a beginning. The next step would be for someone to give it a little competition by starting up a new newspaper. Can you imagine that the second-largest city in the U.S. has only one major daily paper? Rupert Murdoch, are you listening?

posted by: Alistair on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Vital Information (comments) is still upset that Bustamante's MEChA connection came out in August (when Bustamante had ample time to deal with it). But it is still relevant due to
Bustamante's connections with more radical ex-Mechistas in government and his campaigning for Nativo Lopez, who writes for the breath-taking site Voz de Aztlan. Remember that this site has NO CONNECTION with MEChA even though its friends and advisors post articles there. And Bustamante seems to agree with MEChA's policy of not recognizing the borders of the U.S.

Shark Blog reminds us that the LA Times was not too sharp on the MEChA issue:

posted by: Karen on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Estrich's op-ed piece on the Arnold revelations states:

"As a professor of sex discrimination law for two decades and an expert on sexual harassment, I certainly don't condone the unwanted touching of women that was apparently involved here. But these acts do not appear to constitute any crime, such as rape or sodomy or even assault or battery. As for civil law, sexual harassment requires more than a single case of unwelcome touching; there must be either a threat or promise of sex in exchange for a job benefit or demotion, or the hostile environment must be severe and pervasive."

Estrich apparently forgot to mention that she is a *really, really bad* professor of sex discrimination law -- or of any kind of law. Let's pick this apart a little:

A) Would the allegations of Arnold's conduct, if true (big IF, by the way), constitute a crime? OF COURSE THEY WOULD! First of all, offensive and uninvited physical contact is the very definition of the common law crime of battery. Moreover, Cal. Penal Code sec. 243.4(e)(1) says that "Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery." Any law professor worth her salt would know this, or at least bother checking it out, before they committed such inane assertions to paper.

B) Would the allegations provide a valid basis for a civil suit? AGAIN, OF COURSE! It's arguable, I suppose, whether this would constitute sexual harassment. But sexual harassment laws aren't the only laws on the books. For instance, grabbing someone's breasts without their consent is a cut-and-dry case of battery under the tort law of any state in the nation. And as far as sexual harassment is concerned, this is not an allegation of some lewd or inappropriate comments. There are certainly courts that have held that a single sexual battery is sufficient to create the "severe" enough hostile environment. To be sure, other courts have held that employers get a few free gropes before triggering any Title VII liability, but I'm mystified as to why Professor Estrich thinks that's an acceptable outcome.

Truthfully, I have no idea what to make of these allegations. The timing of the their revelation is reason enough to be suspicious. But Professor Estrich's comments about the law are shockingly ill informed.

posted by: JW on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

It seems to me that the LAT just wants to follow in the footsteps of the New York Times now that they're owned by the World's Greatest Newspaper.

The Tribune will have to fire the editor and several reporters to top the New York Times Act.

Hats off to the Trib (that includes you Pat Morrison).

posted by: John on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

I'll go out on a limb here...

GrayDavis/LATimes late hit on Ahnuld = The Wellstone "Funeral Service".

Not so much in its tackiness as in the blowback to come (i.e., Republican turnout).

posted by: furious on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

JW, get a grip. Prof. Susan Estrich was Michael Dukakis's campaign manager, and no slouch when it comes to supporting liberal pet causes like sexual harassment law (which is conveniently swept under the rug when Dems are involved).

But you're missing a key point here. Nobody can be convicted of a crime if nobody files charges against them. There's a reason for this, which should be obvious even to you: anonymous charges whispered to a sympathetic newspaper reporter are one thing, but marching down to the police station and reporting a crime is another.

But even if we're just looking at the court of public opinion, rather than the law, I think everyone would agree that there's a huge evidentiary difference between accusations with a name and face attached, and those which are lobbed from behind a screen. (Yet another key difference between Clinton's situation and Arnold's.)

In the case of the LAT hit piece, 4 of the 6 accusers were unnamed, and only two were on the record. Of those 2, one was contradicted by another woman (also on the record) who was present during the alleged incident. The only other on-the-record accuser claimed Arnold groped her... 28 years ago! Surely the statute of limitations, both legal and public opinion-wise, has run on that one.

posted by: Alistair on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Well, as a Nihilist…

I am thoroughly euphoric over the “will-to-power” Clinton and Schwartzenegger posses. If we were to have more political powerhouses like this we could finally crush the disgusting slave morality of Christianity and unleash the Absolute Power of AMERICA!!!

Real men like Clinton and Schwartzenegger have been freed of their bondage to a dying myth and have come to realize TRUE POWER!!!

posted by: Chaka on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]


The Bustamante-Mecha issue would have had no legs if Bustamante had confronted the issue head-on and said he didn't support their platform. I went to college with plenty of kids in Mecha and I know that most of the members aren't racist (though they WERE very naive).

On the comparison to Clinton, why not compare his actions w/ respect to Juannita Broaderick rather than Monica? Lets see, ass grabbing vs. rape, that's a real tough one, huh?

But if you must compare his actions w/ Monica, keep in mind he didn't get impeached for a hummer, he was impeached for committing perjury in a sexual harrassment deposition and obstruction of justice for covering up all evidence that pointed to the perjury. For the record, I was against impeaching Clinton for perjury (though it was a trap of his own making -- HE was the one to amend the federal sexual harrasment laws to allow plaintiffs to ask their employers if they had sexual relations with anyone else under their authority).

But obstruction of justice? Nixon was forced to resign for obstruction of justice, for covering up a fairly minor misdemeanor breaking and entering charge that no one charged him with being behind. And, unlike Nixon, the illegal act Clinton covered up was a felony (perjury) and was unquestionably committed by him personally.

posted by: Sean on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

I'm glad the Democrats are coming around to my way of thinking--that sexual misconduct isn't a good thing. It's taken them awhile, but they're coming around.

Now, are Arnold's and Bill's actions on the same level? I don't think so. Bill used government buildings and government workers (state troopers) and offered jobs, threatened difficulty, etc. Arnold grabbed a few butts. Obnoxious and bawdy, but not on the same level.

I'm amazed that NOW has come out against Arnold but was silent on Clinton. No, I'm really not amazed at all.

posted by: Darren on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Oh yeah,
I really like the way Arnold did it to,
Clinton is obviously an ameteur,
but Arnold really knows how to use a lady.

posted by: Chaka on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

Alistair. Thanks for your extremely civil post. (By the way, I've managed to get my grip, thank you very much.)

You completely missed the point of my comment. I wasn't saying that Estrich is insufficiently sympathetic to liberal causes or that we should reflexively believe all of AS's accusers. Rather, I was saying that Estrich is just plain WRONG about some basic legal issues. The law on sexual battery is crystal clear -- if Arnold did what is alleged (a really, really big IF), he broke the law and he could be held both criminally and civily liable. You simply cannot dispute this point; it is incontrovertible.

Also, you are dead wrong to say that no one can be convicted of a crime unless the victim files a complaint. This is an unfortunate popular perception (thanks to the likes of Law & Order and The Practice), and it is simply not true. (How do you suppose murders are prosecuted, when the victim is ... well ... 'unavailable' to file a complaint?) I grant you that there may be *practical* considerations that prevent a prosectution where the victim won't come forward, but there's no hard and fast rule against prosecuting under such circumstances.

You make a fine point that there are reasons to doubt the reliability of those who've made the accusations. For the most part, I agree that we ought to be suspicious. But my comment was directed strictly to the legal issue and had nothing to do with whether or not the allegations are true. I was just surprised that Estrich, a well regarded professor of law, was so sloppy.

posted by: JW on 10.03.03 at 09:15 AM [permalink]

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