First, let’s acknowledge that California’s former governor and Hollywood’s once and future Terminator didn’t actually succeed in keeping his dirty laundry out of the media, at least not a significant amount of it. As this segment from NBC’s Today Show reports, there were plenty of media reports about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad behavior prior to the election, most of which came from traditional media like the Los Angeles Times. Schwarzenegger acknowledged it before the election, apologizing for “behaving badly” in the past, an approach that allowed him to carry the special recall election in a crowded field in 2003, thanks to a boost from his wife.
But NBC also notes that the tabloids suddenly took it easy on Arnold in the weeks leading up to the election. Did Arnold “muscle” them into submission? Not exactly:
It’s an interesting report, not for what it says about Schwarzenegger, but what it says about AMI. The tabloid titan had a significant investment in their partnership with Schwarzenegger, and before his foray into politics, even the bad-boy publicity helped boost his standing. When he decided to run for political office, AMI appears to have changed its editorial policy in covering Arnold’s peccadilloes — although it’s worth noting that the threshold for publication of wild rumors ended up being set for Arnold where it belongs for everybody.
The best way to co-opt the press is to make them your partners. That’s not exactly a new lesson, but it is a novelty for a Republican politician.