Topic: Media Research Center
This week's revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a secret love child caused us to wonder (h/t Romenesko): What did the Media Research Center do in 2003 when the Los Angeles Times reported on Schwarzenegger's boorish behavior with women prior to the special election in which he was elected California governor?
Exactly what you'd imagine the MRC would do: minimization and misdirection.
An Oct. 3, 2003, MRC CyberAlert item complained that no network news stories about the incidents "made any suggestion about anything being wrong with the timing of the story, dealing with claims going back 28 years, coming less than a week before the California gubernatorial recall vote." Responding to one report's statement that "Schwarzenegger may be battling yet another opponent: his past," Brent Baker huffed: "More like the media are his most dangerous opponent."
Another CyberAlert item the same day went for full minimization and misdirection, attacking NBC's Tom Brokaw for not reporting on the questionable rape allegations by Juanita Broaddrick against Bill Clinton but he "jumped right on the Los Angeles Times story about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inappropriate sexual advances, going back to 1975, three years before the Broaddrick claim, and which fell far short of rape." Baker went on to be annoyed that an NBC reporter gave "credibility to another allegation she had no ability to verify" -- as if Baker wasn't doing the very same thing with Broaddrick.
Yet another CyberAlert item howled about "double standards and some hypocrisy in jumping on the allegations about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inappropriate sexual advances when those same journalists and outlets delayed or downplayed the more serious Juanita Broaddrick charge that Bill Clinton raped her and, in late 1993, the Arkansas troopers’ claims about procuring women for Bill Clinton -- stories which both broke no where near election time and, therefore, the media should have been less reticent to report than a charge raised days before balloting."
Of course, as we've detailed, the claims the troopers made fell apart under sworn testimony -- something Baker didn't tell his readers. By contrast the groping claims against Schwarzenegger have not been discredited, and even the MRC never attacked the particulars of the allegations.
That item went on to quote MRC's Tim Graham:
While the Los Angeles Times laid out its investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s alleged sexual harassment, the Times isn’t always interested in running last-minute exposes that have the potential to derail a political campaign. In 1999, the New York Times recalled allegations that Gov. Bill Clinton may have raped Juanita Broaddrick: “The allegation was passed on to reporters for the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times in the waning days of the 1992 presidential campaign. Regarding it as the kind of toxic waste traditionally dumped just before Election Day, both newspapers passed on the story.”
Actually, according to "The Hunting of the President" by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, Broaddrick refused to talk to a Los Angeles Times reporter in 1992, and she has a documented history of telling many contradictory claims over the years regarding the alleged incident. That's why the media stayed away from it. Graham, however, has no apparent problem with Broaddrick's inconsistencies.
This was all summed up in an Oct. 6, 2003, "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes, who asserted that "The same broadcast networks that flinched when faced with credible charges that Democratic darling Bill Clinton actually raped a woman during his 1978 Arkansas gubernatorial campaign are scrambling to give free airtime to women who charge Schwarzenegger with unwanted groping." Like Baker, Noyes doesn't challenge the credibility of Schwarzenegger's accusers and, in calling Broaddrick's accusation "credible," ignores her history of contradictory statements.
An Oct. 7, 2003, CyberAlert item by Baker complained that "NBC’s morning team kept repeating that '15 women' now accuse Schwarzenegger, as if the number of accusers were more important than the truth of the accusations." Baker added regarding an interview Schwarzenegger did with ABC: "What Arnold didn’t know before answering is that a Nexis search didn’t find the words 'serial groper' or 'serial abuser of women' in the archive of ABC News transcripts at any time during the Clinton years."
In short: the MRC was much more interested in pushing its right-wing "liberal bias" agenda and protecting a Republican candidate's chances of victory than it was about the truth. Things don't change much, do they?
UPDATE: It appears the MRC is sticking to its whitewashing. A May 19 NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennen calls the 2003 stories on Schwarzenegger "smears."