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What If Times Had Held Schwarzenegger Stories?

October 08, 2003

The Times is the target of predictable anguish by those who see its recent stories on Arnold Schwarzenegger as dirty pool. To check out reports about his behavior toward women it sought out some -- the number is still climbing -- who said he groped them. It checked out, and The Times printed their stories.

It's worth noting that as of Tuesday, 11 of 16 of the complaining women had names and others, also named, testified that the events described were not new to them; they had heard them from the principals at the time. That's about all the supporting evidence you are going to get from man-woman events, which are always "he said, she said" scenarios.

So. The paper did not simply gather up stories of misbehavior and slap them into print. It worked hard to see if there was enough supporting data to take them seriously. Then it put them into the newspaper. It's too bad it was so late in the campaign, but it's clear these stories did take time to develop and check out. Ask yourself if it would have been more ethical, when they were judged ready for print, to hold them until after the election solely to avoid influencing the vote.

Ask yourself, also, whose voices you should listen to most carefully: the candidates themselves, the staff persons for the candidates, party spokesmen for all sides -- all of these with transparent allegiances -- or the newspaper, whose long-term survival depends principally upon its perceived believability and fairness.

Bill Thomas

Sherman Oaks

Thomas was editor of The Times from 1971 to 1989.

*

I am a liberal Democrat and in 32 years have never voted for a Republican. I voted against the recall because as bad as Gov. Gray Davis is, he has done nothing to warrant his removal from office. I was all set to vote for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante when, at the last moment, I switched to Schwarzenegger solely because of The Times' sleazy hatchet job on Arnold these last few days.

I am disgusted at The Times' lack of fairness and am canceling my subscription after 26 years.

David Frank

Hidden Hills

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