Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally aired his dirty laundry, the investigation into the love child scandal begins. As Mickey Kaus noticed, one place to look for cover-up hints is in Ann Louise Bardach's 2004 Los Angeles magazine article detailing the "exquisitely engineered" business deal that allowed Arnold to get the tabloids off his back before his run for governor.
In 2002, tabloid media owner David Pecker bought Weider Publications, which owned titles including Shape, Flex, and Men's Fitness. Schwarzenegger, a popular subject of those weight-lifting magazines, was brought on board as a business partner. Pecker, who owned The National Enquirer, attempted to assuage concerns that Schwarzenegger would still be the target of his tabloid properties. At the time, according to Bardach, Pecker said: "'There is one thing that I can tell you. We don't, as a company, rehash old stuff.'"
When Arnold announced his bid to replace Gray Davis in the California's recall election in 2003, Pecker's tabloids we're mostly silent on the rumor mongering even when the Los Angeles Times "groping" allegations hit their peak. Bardach writes that it was only days before the election when the Enquirer ran with a "love child" scandal story clipped from the U.K. tabloid The Daily Mail, and by then "the mainstream press had little time to follow up the account and confirm it." Here's how that rumor evolved:
The Enquirer story, which was picked up by The Boston Herald, The New York Daily News, and The Drudge Report, claimed that the former bodybuilder had fathered a son with a woman from Orange County. She had worked as a stewardess on his Gulfstream jet for more than a decade. The Daily Mail also mentioned that one of the woman's two sons has the same unusual name as one of Schwarzenegger's film characters. The Daily Mail even ran a photo of the 11-year-old boy. The paper published a denial from the woman that Schwarzenegger was the father. (An attorney representing the woman said in October that he would file a libel suit against The Daily Mail in English court, but the paper has yet to receive a letter demanding a retraction or to be sued.)
Interestingly, here was Pecker's 2004 response to Bardach when asked about Schwarzenegger as a subject for his tabloids:
"Will I send 50 reporters to dig up something on my partner?" he asks. "No. I'm not going to do that. But if anything that's newsworthy comes up, something that we know will sell, we'll publish."
Update: Gawker's John Cook pieced together the 2003 Daily Mail article with details from today's LA Times and produces his own theory. The Mail article purports that Arnold impregnated a stewardess who worked on his private jet, Tammy Tousignant. And her son is the recent recent high school graduate Tanner Tousignant, who promptly dismissed the rumor:
Reached by Gawker via Facebook, he wrote: "im not his son.... don't waist your time. it was just a stupid story made up 8 years ago."