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The Arnold Schwarzenegger affair: An issue of privacy

May 18, 2011 |  6:32 pm

The Times on Tuesday broke the news that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child out of wedlock more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff. The original story and subsequent coverage of the revelation and of Schwarzenegger's separation from his wife, Maria Shriver, have provoked vigorous online comment and debate.

One of the themes has centered on The Times' decision not to publish the names of the woman or child in order "to protect their privacy."

Among the comments from readers regarding that decision: 

From Nick -- Why does the L.A. Times think that "the other woman" deserves anonymity?  After ten years working around Ms. Shriver and her children, it seems to me that she's culpable and deserves to be exposed to public contempt.

From SooZeeQ -- Why do we have to know who he had the child with?  It does not matter! What purpose would it serve except to hurt the child? Why does the public believe that they are entitled to know things that are none of their business?

Other readers wondered why The Times offered what they saw as "partial" reporting: publishing the news of the affair, yet not disclosing certain details. And some asked why other media had chosen to name her.

For the Los Angeles Times, Editor Russ Stanton explains that "the public has a legitimate interest in the behavior of someone who held high office in this state and is likely to remain prominent for a long time. Schwarzenegger's conduct is what was newsworthy."

"In some circumstances," Stanton adds, "it might be necessary or appropriate to reveal the identity of a politician's mistress. In this situation, we thought it was not. We hewed to the principle of protecting the identity of an innocent child. To have identified the mother would, in effect, have been to identify the child. Different media companies have different standards. We will stick by ours, regardless of what others do."

-- The Office of the Readers' Representative

 

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