Date: Mon Oct 6, 2003  5:33 pm

Columnist: Davis attacked female workers
Accuses L.A. Times of bias after last-minute dish on Schwarzenegger


Posted: October 6, 2003
5:00 p.m. Eastern

� 2003

Accusing the Los Angeles Times of tabloid tactics by publishing
unsubstantiated allegations about Arnold Schwarzenegger on the eve of
the California recall election, a columnist said the paper has been
sitting on information Gov. Gray Davis is an "office batterer."

Los Angeles-based political commentator Jill Stewart, a Democrat,
said Davis "has attacked female members of his staff, thrown objects
at subservients and launched into red-faced fits, screaming the f-
word until staffers cower."

Weeks ago, the syndicated columnist wrote, Times editors dispatched
two teams of reporters to dig up dirt on Schwarzenegger but did
nothing to investigate Davis' "violence" against women who work for

"The paper's protection of Davis is proof, on its face, of the gross
bias within the paper," Stewart said. "If Schwarzenegger is elected
governor, it should be no surprise if Times reporters judge him far
more harshly than they ever judged Davis."

California voters will decide tomorrow whether to recall Davis and
replace him with Schwarzenegger or another candidate.

Angry readers

The Times said in its Sunday edition about 1,000 readers had canceled
subscriptions and some 400 phone callers had criticized its stories
about anonymous women who accuse Schwarzenegger of groping and verbal
harrassment during encounters dating to the early 1970s and as
recently as 2000.

Many of the callers were angry and some were profane, said the paper,
which published an initial front-page article Thursday with the
stories of six women.

Defending the timing of the stories, Times Editor John Carroll
pointed to the compressed schedule of the recall campaign, noting the
paper had been pursuing the allegations for seven weeks.

Carroll, who insisted he received no tips from Schwarzenegger
opponents, also pointed out the newspaper's critical coverage of both
Davis and independent candidate Arianna Huffington.

However, in an interview today with talk-radio host Sean Hannity,
Stewart claimed L.A. Times reporters have told her the paper held the
story, despite warnings from lawyers it would hurt the L.A. Times
more than it hurts Schwarzenegger.

At least one of Schwarzenegger's accusers was coached to come forward
by a Democratic operative, she said.

Davis has called for a probe of the allegations against the Austrian-
born actor.

Later in his radio program today, Hannity asked Schwarzenegger what
he thought of Stewart's claims about the Times.

"It was very clear from the beginning that they favored one candidate
over the other," Schwarzenegger replied, calling the stories last-
hour "trickery."

"I think the voters are smart enough to see this is politics, dirty
campaigning," he said.

Schwarzenegger has offered a general apology for having "behaved
badly" toward women in the past and insists some of the allegations
are completely fabricated. He says he will not discuss details until
after the campaign.

'Dirty Tricks Thursday'

Stewart said she was shocked about the "lurid" stories the Times
published about Schwarzenegger, but not over the allegations, which
she had read before, in a magazine.

"I was most shocked at the Los Angeles Times," she wrote.

The commentator explained the Thursday before a big election is
dubbed by politicos as "Dirty Tricks Thursday, which allows an
opponent to unload dirt on a candidate with the maximum publicity and
the minimum amount of time to credibly investigate or respond to the

"It creates a Black Friday," Stewart wrote, "where the candidate
spends a precious business day right before the election desperately
investigating the accusations, before facing a weekend in which
reporters only care about further accusations that invariably spill
out of the woodwork."

She said "Dirty Tricks Thursday" is not used by the media to sink a
campaign, but asserted the Times "managed to give every appearance of
trying to do so."

"It's nothing short of journalistic malpractice when a paper mounts a
last-minute attack that can make or break one of the most important
elections in California history," she said. "The Times looked even
more biased by giving two different reasons for publishing its
gruesome article at the last minute."

Stewart disclosed she is a "friendly acquaintance" of one of
Schwarzenegger's accusers and has no idea whether her allegations are

But "neither does the Times," she argued.

"If the Times were a tabloid, this would hardly matter," she
said. "But the newspaper is influential at times, and claims it has
high standards. In this case, the paper gave in to its bias against

Allegations against Davis

As proof of the Times' bias, she said, the paper has been sitting on
accusations brought out in her Nov. 27, 1997, story in the now-
defunct New Times and several other articles later with similar

Stewart's article, headlined "Closet Wacko Vs. Mega Fibber," detailed
two incidents when Davis allegedly flew into a violent rage against
female staffers.

In an incident in the mid-1990s, Davis began screaming the f-word at
a policy analyst who informed him a key fundraising source had dried
up, Stewart wrote.

The analyst said when she demanded Davis stop speaking that way, the
governor grabbed her by her shoulders and "shook me until my teeth
rattled. I was so stunned I said, 'Good God Gray! Stop and look at
what you are doing. Think what you are doing to me!'"

In another incident, Stewart said, Davis "so violently shoved his
loyal, 62-year-old secretary out of a doorway that she suffered a
breakdown and refused to ever work in the same room with him."

An arrangement later was worked out by state officials for her to
work at home, then in a separate area where Davis promised he would
not go. Finally, Stewart said, the secretary transferred to another
job, "desperate to avoid him."

Davis left his former assistant a phone message, Stewart said, but it
was not an apology. The governor asked her to come back to work,
commenting, "You know how I am."

Stewart said during her investigation of the Davis allegations she
found out the Times also was pursuing the story, but the paper never
published it.

"When I spoke to a reporter involved, he said editors at the Times
were against attacking a major political figure using anonymous
sources," she said.

"Just what they did last week to Schwarzenegger."

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