Friday, July 06, 2007

Villaraigosa's Sex Life Really Not Our Business

It used to be that for the most part, journalists left the sex lives of public officials alone. I think, then, we were far better off. Now, the press has forgotten the New York Times motto: "All the news that's fit to print," and it prints a lot of things that are private and irrelevant.

Just as with John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and countless other men in public life who have had affairs, I believe that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's sex life ought to be left alone and not made the subject of constant reports and speculation. It is really irrelevant as to what kind of mayor he is.

The public certainly feels this way. When the Washington press corps, including some prominent L.A. Times Washington writers, were all steamed up about Clinton's getting a few blow jobs, every poll showed that the preponderant majority of the public didn't give a damn, felt the impeachment proceedings against him were ridiculous, and still gave him their strong support. His lies about the matter were not viewed as an impeachable offense, but something a man in his position would naturally resort to.

It hasn't been all that long since the kind of affair that Villaraigosa has apparently been having would not have gotten much attention in the L.A. Times or anywhere else. When I was a political writer for the Times, both Mayor Tom Bradley and Mayor Sam Yorty had affairs. We didn't write much about them.

One time, when I was the Times' Southern correspondent based in Atlanta, I was out at the Atlanta Airport meeting a friend coming in on a flight from Los Angeles, and, lo and behold, Yorty arrived (he was L.A. mayor at the time) on the same flight. A woman of mixed blood ran forward and threw herself around Yorty, kissing and hugging him, and he was kissing and hugging back. I was right there, so I asked the mayor what he was doing. "Greeting the widow of a slain Los Angeles police officer," the unabashed Yorty answered.

Now, in this case, Villaraigosa invited attention by talking, in a limited way, about the circumstances of his broken marriage. So, like the former Colorado senator, Gary Hart, he virtually dared the press to find out what was going on. And now it has. The mayor is having an affair with Mirthala Salinas, a reporter for Telemundo, who has now been suspended from her news duties.

Surprise, but I'm neither shocked nor surprised. Both Villaraigosa and Salinas are attractive, ambitious people and they both seem, like many such people, to have powerful sex drives.

The fact is, many people in our society outgrow their marriages. Their marital partners don't come along as fast as they do. They often move on to other liaisons.

I want to let you in on a secret: This is also true of reporters. Some of the best known Times reporters have had affairs, and have left early spouses for other matches. I won't name these people here, because to do so would be invasions of privacy they don't deserve. But in several of the cases, I thought the change they made was for the better.

It's hard on the kids often, though I've also known cases where in the end, it wasn't. But the main thing is, we live in a society where marital breakups have become routine.

Now, in Villaraigosa's case, having someone he's enjoying having sex with, may be making him a happier person and a better mayor. His wife didn't seem terribly interested in his being mayor, anyway.

So, for once, I don't agree with Times columnist Steve Lopez. To me, this is no big deal, and it doesn't adversely affect my regard for the mayor, just as I don't really care whether Rudolph Giuliani has had three wives or Barack Obama only one. That's not how I make my minds up about them as presidential cfandidates.

As far back as the 19th Century, when it was revealed that Grover Cleveland has had a child out of wedlock, American voters still elected him President. The ditty that made the rounds then was, "Mama, Mama, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!"

If I see Villaraigosa and Salinas out together, I'll buy them a drink, if they allow me to do so.

(Judging from comments I've received on this blog, I take it that some of my readers are most shocked by Salinas' conduct, in sleeping with a news source. This might not be ethical, but I can assure them it is rather common. I'm more impressed by George Skelton's column in the Monday, July 9 article of the Times, in which he seems to argue that regardless of his sex life, Villaraigosa hasn't been all that successful a mayor, or at least not yet).

--

I see, by the way, that that earthquake "predictor," who said there was going to be a 6.5 to 8.0 earthquake in Los Angeles by the end of June, turned out to be wrong. So I don't have to buy Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons $1,000 worth of drinks, as I'd promised to do, if there was such an earthquake.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Villaraigosa's Sex Life Really Not Our Business? Ordinarily I would agree, but this reveals much about Antonio's character.

First off, he ran on a family values platform. Remember the commercials of him walking with his wife and kids? He used them as props.

Then we find out he's tomcatting around while his wife is battling cancer.

Then he can make a statement like this without any awarness of the irony:

"I believe that the vast majority of people base their sense of trust on what you do in your public life, whether or not you keep your promises,.."

I don't buy this nonsense that your personal life is somehow completely separate from your public life.

That would be like say your personal finances are a disaster, but you'd make a really good CFO.

7/06/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Ken, but I just have to disagree on this one. I've seen lots of commentary over the last few days to the effect that his personal conduct doesn't matter as long as "he's doing a good job as mayor", or, "as long as he's doing a good job of running the city". This is obvious codespeak for "If I like his *politics*, then I don't care if he's cheating on his wife."

Three years ago, the Times jumped all over Arnold Schwarzenegger over some alleged groping incidents that happened decades ago, when he wasn't even married or even contemplating politics. The Times went out of it's way to use that information in a blatantly transparent effort to derail Schwarzenegger's campaign for Governor.

Today, Villaraigosa commits an offense that's far, far worse, and Patt Morrison writes an article claiming that she just doesn't care.

The Mayor is obviously a man with a slimy character.

First, we find out that he's cheating on his wife.

But not only that, it's not even the first time he's cheated on his wife.

Not only that, but it turns out that he's actually fathered a couple of illegitimate kids from previous times that he's cheated on his wife.

Not only that, but the woman he's currently cheating with is a reporter, who was covering his activities as mayor at the time she was sleeping with him.

Not only that, but she even reported on his announcement that he was separating from his wife, at the very time that she was sleeping with him.

And on top of all that, he's not the first prominent Latino politician she's had an affair with. Turns out Fabio Nunez had a turn at her a few years ago as well, so she's just a slimy as he is.

But hey, he's glamorous, he's got the right ethnicity, and he's so liberal that he's practically a socialist. So I guess that makes all the cheating irrelevant.

Good thing he's not a conservative. Or a RINO like Arnold, which is what generally passes for a conservative in California. If that were the case, you can sure as heck bet it would matter if he was cheating.

7/06/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken,

I refer you to today's (7/7) column by Tim Rutten. He got it at least part right. The biggest problem here is that El Alcalde is sleeping with a reporter who was covering him. The fact that it's not the first time he's cheated, and the fact that she's previously had an affair with another prominent Latino politician, are also important, but the reporter-sleeping-with-the-subject angle is the worst of it.

And I still maintain that the people who insist that it's a private matter, and that we should all just lay off, are only saying so because they like his liberal politics.

7/07/2007 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Gordo Lopez said...

Hey, Gabachos! How do you think she gets all the great interviews with the Caballeros Politicos? She can take copious notes while multi-tasking.

7/07/2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he is getting it on with a reporter do you think this might have a little impact on her ability to be Neutral in her reporting? No wait, reporters no longer have to be unbiased and factual.. my bad.

7/08/2007 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken,

Once again, I direct your attention to George Skelton's piece in today's (7/9) Times. He's right; there's no privacy in politics. If he's angling for Governor against Arnold, he's going to have to explain why Arnold's groping incidents of more than 20 years ago matter, but his own cheating on his wife *doesn't* matter.

7/09/2007 10:47 AM  

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