Nothing will get me on the pro-Arnold bandwagon faster than the Los Angeles Dog Trainer (aka Los Angeles Times) coming out with its incredibly predictable hit piece on Arnold. (A tip of the hat tip to fresh potatoes for breaking the news of this smear job.)
This pathetic rag of a newspaper does this every election. As a regular reader of this site informed me just today, they slammed Bruce Herschensohn with a last-minute hit piece having to do with his visit to a strip club. They hit Michael Huffington with a late-breaking story about his illegal nanny. They were quick to trumpet the last-minute Bush DUI story. George Will (predicting a last-minute smear job on Arnold) reminds us that Darrell Issa took a “late hit” regarding his military record. And now this — a story the paper has been developing for seven weeks, and releases now.
How predictable is this? Well, Mickey Kaus predicted it, right down to predicting the exact day they’d release the story for maximum effect:
Tomorrow would be about the logical last day for the Los Angeles Times to drop its bomb on Arnold Schwarzenegger. If editor John Carroll waits any longer it will look like a late hit designed to stampede the electorate.
That was posted today; the story will appear in the print editions tomorrow.
P.S.: When I call this story a “smear job” or “hit piece” or “B.S.” I am not saying that the allegations of the women in the piece aren’t true. How could I possibly know? In fact, the allegations sound fairly credible, and this behavior is pretty consistent with what we have all heard about this guy.
What I am saying is that I think it’s absolutely indefensible for the folks at the Dog Trainer to sit on this story as long as they did. The timing is especially suspect because the allegations are not really new, but rather a repetition and elaboration of a March 2001 article from Premiere Magazine called “Arnold the Barbarian.”
The motives of the Dog Trainer editors are crystal clear — after all, they have consistently editorialized against the recall, and the news side has a regular piece called Recall Madness. The paper’s recent decision to portray the election as a two-man race between Davis and Arnold can be fully understood only once you also understand that the editors have been sitting on this stink bomb for weeks, waiting for just the right time to release it.
UPDATE: The Times staff writer who pens the “Recall Madness” pieces, Roy Rivenburg, writes to correct me on a couple of points. He says that he writes for the features side of the paper, not the news side. Fair enough. I meant to distinguish between the paper’s editorials, which are supposed to represent opinion, and the rest of the paper.
He also says that he believes that his column is not an example of pro-Davis or anti-recall bias. I actually think this is a fair statement — but I don’t think it addresses my point. I did not mean to argue that the content of his column is the problem. Rather, my point is that the very act of running a light features column with this title seems to indicate an editorial decision to trivialize the recall effort. (This is a quibble with the editors, not with Mr. Rivenburg.)
Even this, standing alone, would not be so objectionable — there is an undeniable circus aspect to this process. My comments above address the Dog Trainer‘s actions in their totality. It’s the editorials; the last-minute Arnold smear job; the refusal to run a comparable story about Davis’s abuse of women; the insistence that the sources for the Arnold hit piece were unconnected with the Davis campaign, but the inevitable refusal to tell us who they are; the ridiculous references to Davis’s “calm demeanor” when they know better — and so on, and so on, and so on. Very telling, in my opinion, is the Dog Trainer editors’ recent decision to emphasize the view of the recall election as a two-man race between Arnold and Gray — all the while knowing that they were sitting on a big Arnold stinkbomb. That undeniably has the feel of a “set ‘em up and knock ‘em down” strategy.
I would be thrilled to hear from Mr. Rivenburg or any other Times writers as to how they feel about the paper’s timing on this story, in light of the above factors I have mentioned. I would especially love to hear from anyone with any insight on the paper’s refusal to run the Gray Davis story that Jill Stewart has been pushing since 1997. Anonymity will be guaranteed if requested — if unidentified sources don’t bother the Times, why should they bother me? If anyone from the paper has anything to offer on this issue, you know what to do — click on the “E-mail me” link to the left.