Debating Giuliani Daughter's Arrest

Amid the media frenzy, a discussion about parental issues and "special treatment"

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The arrest of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's daughter for shoplifting has sparked the usual variety of voyeuristic responses. College-age Caroline, many point out, is surely not strapped for cash, which makes petty larceny at Sephora a bit of a mystery--and an occasion for armchair psychiatry.

What complicates the otherwise unsavory media frenzy is concern about the way Caroline's arrest was handled. The New York Post is quick to cover the ways in which the police actually were harsher on the political daughter than they might have been on someone less high-profile. She was treated to a full handcuffs-parade in front of cameras and some time in a cell, despite the fact that the store made it quite clear it was not going to press charges. The Post's story provides an extra prompt for those debating whether Caroline's background is grounds for more sympathy--or less.

  • We Are Shocked, Shocked!  Gawker's Jeff Neumann parodies the Post's underlying tone of surprise, reporting the arrest. "What?! She was cuffed and arrested for taking something from a store without paying for it? And she sat in a jail cell with actual criminals?"
  • Sympathy  Politico's Maggie Haberman, covering the news as it came in yesterday, writes: "While the facts are still unclear on this, I've gotten several calls from longtime city political insiders to say they feel sad for Caroline Giuliani, who, along with her older brother Andrew, grew up in a grueling public spotlight from early childhood."
  • 'A Problem Her Father Worked So Hard to Beat' Good Morning America's Andrea Canning is referring to petty crime, and says Caroline has just become its "unwitting poster child."
  • That Was, One Would Suspect, Exactly the Point  Joanna Molloy New York Daily News comes out strongly in favor of the "parent problems" interpretation of the event. Caroline, she argues, "had to know" she was going to get caught, and must have been fully aware of her father's past record on crime. She cites a few experts to make her case:

Top New York child psychiatrist Dr. Clarice Kestenbaum says shoplifting among children of wealth and privilege "often has nothing to do with the value of the item," but is an attempt to hurt a parent. Dr. Gregory Jantz, the author of "Gotta Have It," said you could be hurt and angry at your father, "but [you] still want his attention. This is a way of getting back at him." For a guy who wanted New Yorkers to pay big bucks for throwing their gum in the street, it sure is.

  • And That's Really No Excuse  Joe Vallee at philly2philly brings the tabloid story back to the realm of personal experience, pointing out that many of his friends, growing up, had divorced parents. "We've all had problems and people handle them in different ways, but ... not ONE of them coped with their issues by shoplifting items out of a department store. If this is a feeble attempt from Caroline Giuliani to draw the ire of her father, it wouldn't be the first time," he continues, bringing up the Obama Facebook group in 2008.
I am not in her shoes, but either way Caroline Giuliani will not get any sympathy from me. It's about time you confronted whomever you have your issues with, and get it together. Because chances are nobody else is going to feel sorry for you, either. People have come from broken homes to rise above adversity to make a decent life for themselves. You have no excuse.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.