Monday, September 19, 2005

Best L.A. Times Story Over The Summer Involved Schwarzenegger

In perusing back issues of the L.A. Times over the summer, while I was on my Alaskan trip, my feeling is that the most outstanding single story in the paper over that period came Aug. 12 when Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall reported that a tabloid wooing Arnold Schwarzenegger for a business deal had paid $20,000 to a Malibu woman who had had a sexual relationship with Schwarzenegger, so she would not talk about it during the Recall campaign.

This fascinating story vindicated editor John Carroll's judgment to print the story toward the end of the Recall campaign that spoke of Schwarzenegger's untoward moves on several other women who talked to Times reporters.

The Times was chastised in some quarters for printing that story just five days before the election. But Carroll wrote an article explaining his feelings that the story had to be printed, if the Times was to keep faith with its readers.

The Nicholas-Hall story strongly indicates that there was even more to the situation than the Times learned before the Recall, and, parenthetically, since the campaign I've been informed by another woman who worked on movie sets with Schwarzenegger that it was well known in Hollywood that Schwarzenegger repeatedly hit on women while working on his movies.

This woman told me that when she went to work on a Schwarzenegger set, she was warned by friends not to get anywhere near Schwarzenegger.

Incidently, there is perhaps some circumstantial evidence that Carroll's retirement over the summer may have had something to do with the decision on the part of the new publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, to end the employment of Michael Kinsley, Carroll's choice as editorial page editor.

The late David Shaw, before he discovered he had a brain tumor in May, checked out a rumor that Carroll was planning to leave the paper in protest against Tribune cost cutting. But when Shaw asked Carroll whether this was true, Carroll responded it wasn't, that nothing that had happened up to then (last spring) convinced him it was time to leave.

So what happened between the time Carroll told Shaw he had no intent to leave and his decision to retire over the summer?

It seems to me it could have been Johnson replacing John Puerner as publisher and then informing Carroll he wanted to get rid of Kinsley. Johnson also probably consulted Tribune higher-ups before ousting Kinsley.

Certainly, Carroll was high on Kinsley. I remember his going around the paper the night Kinsley's original appointment was made in 2004 telling staffers how proud he was to obtain Kinsley's services.

Later, Carroll supported Kinsley strongly in his row with columnist Susan Estrich. In fact, I have speculated before that Kinsley may have been following Carroll's wishes when he refused to run Estrich columns on the Op-Ed page, since Estrich had publicly crossed Carroll in the controversy over the Schwarzenegger women story.

Carroll has not been precise in his explanation for his retirement. I am not on close terms with him, so have not attempted to reach him to ask about the theory I've expressed here.

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