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On October 2, 2003, on the eve of a special election to choose a new Governor of California, the Los Angeles Times published a lengthy investigative article about allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the leading candidate: movie star turned Republican gubernatorial hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger. The result was surprising. As much as it made Schwarzenegger the subject of discussion, so too did it do the same for the Times itself. In part because it appeared within days of the election and, in part because of a history of criticism of the newspaper for what its critics alleged was a liberal political bias, the Times found itself having to defend publicly its decision to do what it understood to be a key responsibility of a major daily newspaper-scrutinizing the record of a politician.
This case, part of a series of cases about the changing practice of journalism, tells the story of why and how the Los Angeles Times undertook its Schwarzenegger investigation, what it understood to be the ethical practice of journalism in such circumstances, and how the public at large and its critics, particularly, interpreted the Times coverage. The case is meant both to help in the training of professional journalists and as a vehicle for discussion about the role of the press in political campaigns.
|Policy Area:||Communication, Public Opinion, and the Press|
Democracy and Democratization