"It was such over-the-top behavior and by a person who ultimately was in charge of enforcing gender discrimination law in the state," added Baquet. "It was so evident this was something the voters should know before they cast their vote for governor."
Carroll recalled that talk radio and cable television hosts amplified the complaints against the paper and pumped up a bogus report that The Times intentionally held the story to do maximum damage.
The front-running Schwarzenegger would contest some details of the stories. He would blame the Davis campaign. But he could never knock down the essence of The Times stories. He admitted he had "behaved badly" and offered a kind of blanket apology to any women who had been offended.
The furor did not prevent Schwarzenegger from being elected in 2003. And reelected. At least a few voters in the recall said, if anything, they supported him to rebuke The Times for its reporting on the sexual harassment allegations.
On closer examination, the reaction to the Schwarzenegger groping stories seems to be not of kind but of degree. A state facing outsize problems, looked to an outsize character to fix them. Anyone or anything that appeared to stand in his way (like this newspaper) could be cast as an outsize villain.
The truth was, the story and its central figure may have presented a glossy and attractive narrative. But the final cut fit right into a drearily familiar mold.
Photos: A political marriage with star power