After turning to politics when his Hollywood career tanked, Arnold Schwarzenegger finagled to get free national TV face time by presenting the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Picture tonight. But far more interesting is what I have here: this email exchange between Karen Pomer, founder of the Los Angeles-based Rainbow Sisters Project for Rape Survivors, and Andres Martinez, head of the editorial and opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, over the LAT‘s Sunday editorial urging that Schwarzenegger be allowed to run for U.S. president. (He can’t because he’s not a “natural born citizen”.) What’s astonishing to me is how the LAT editorial board didn’t bother to do its research — it didn’t even know that Schwarzenegger holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Austria. Pomer wrote a Letter To The Editor protesting the paper’s convenient amnesia about the sexual harrassment allegations against Scharzenegger that the LAT itself raised in a 2003 investigation — ironically, with Pomer’s help. But, remember, that the paper’s management who OK’ed that probe is gone, and replaced by new LAT publisher, David Hiller, who oversees editorials as a card-carrying Republican, Rumsfeld friend and architect of the Reagan administration’s controversial U.S. immigration policy calling for concentration camps.
Pomer’s letter says:
“What’s insulting is that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the subject of an Los Angeles Times investigative series published in 2003, which included interviews with 17 women accusing him of attempted rape, sexual battery, and/or sexual harassment, is now deemed worthy of a Times campaign championing him as a Presidential candidate. The Times Editorial Board needs re-read the series to refresh their selective memories. For example: One woman recounted a frightening story to Times reporters about an incident while working on the movie Predator in 1986. She said Schwarzenegger followed her into a bathroom on a studio lot and grabbed her from behind, “He clamped his right hand over my boob and was wrestling with me… He wouldn’t let go. I fought him. The size of his biceps coming across my chest, they were enormous. I couldn’t get away from him… Any time you make a woman feel that vulnerable or that overpowered, it changes you forever.” Enough said.”
Andres Martinez writes back:
“Thanks, Karen, for your note. Your point is well taken, although slightly unrelated to editorial. We think it is important for the constitution to be amended for naturalized citizens to qualify for the presidency. This view doesn’t stem from our liking or disliking the prospect of a Schwarzengger candidacy, even though his situation does raise the issue. The issues you raise would be appropriate for voters to consider if he were a candidate, but they don’t strike me as a reason to change our views on whether naturalized citizens — and not just Arnold — should be eligible for the nation’s highest office.”
Then Pomer replies:
“Thank-you for answering my letter so promptly. Will the letter I sent you, meant to draw attention to the hypocrisy and disgraceful position the LA Times now finds itself in, be published on your pages? Who knows better than the editors of the LA Times about the disturbing details of the accusations against Schwarzengger by 17 women who bravely spoke to your reporters even though they feared reprisals. You deemed these women credible at time or else you would not have devoted the time and resources of several of your top reporters, including at least one with a Pulitzer for his investigative work. (Full Disclosure: As the founder of a rape survivors group, I assisted the Times team in locating several of these women to find out if they were willing to repeat their stories to the Times and be identified. Speaking to a number of these women, I know first hand how terrified they were about coming forward. Additionally, I was motivated by a revealing and unsettling encounter with his wife Maria Shriver, when interviewed by her about my own rape for Dateline NBC.) So, what makes the Times not only give Schwarzengger a pass endorsing him for re-election as Governor and now promoting him as Presidential material? On the issue of should the constitution be amended for naturalized citizens to qualify for the presidency: As the daughter of two naturalized American citizens, it concerns me that there is no mention in your editorial that Schwarzengger has maintains a dual-citizenship with Austria all these years he has lived in the US.. (This very relevant fact is relatively unknown to your readers. My father voluntarily gave up his dual-citizenship with Canada when he joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1940 as a Flight Surgeon.) Why not call for our Governor to give up his before you tout him as President? In any case, Schwarzenegger’s alleged criminal behavior would earn a lesser movie-star a spot on Megan’s List or as a roommate in re-hab with [U.S. Rep Mark] Foley, not a place in the White House. Best.”