Villaraigosa vs. Gingrich at the LA Times (Plus a Must-Read From The LA Daily News)
August 17, 1999, Los Angeles Times: Although Newt Gingrich no longer serves in Congress, Times opinion writer Robert Scheer rips into the national media for not digging the knife deep enough into Newt over his two messy divorces. "Now it's his turn to be judged bad fruit," wrote Scheer. Scheer's tone is certainly angry and vindictive. (Note: Scheer no longer works for the Times as of November 2005.)
July 3, 2007: The Los Angeles Daily News, L.A.'s #2 paper behind the bigger Times, becomes the first major news outlet to report that Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has admitted to currently having a "relationship" with "Telemundo 52" anchor Mirthala Salinas. About a month ago, the mayor announced that he and his wife of 20 years, Corina, were separating (LA Times article). (As an anchor, Salinas herself reported the news of the mayor's separation on Telemundo. (Video at latimes.com) Yikes.) A few days later, Corina announced she was filing for divorce (LA Times article). (On June 20, the Times published a letter from Calif. State Senator Sheila Kuehl, a far-left Democrat, telling everyone to "leave the guy alone.")
So how has the Times reacted to the latest breaking news about Villaraigosa? Here's the rundown:
- The Times was scooped by the Daily News, so there is nothing in today's paper (7/3/07).
- The Times still did not have a story on their web site, latimes.com, as of 10:20am PDT this morning. (Source: LA Observed)
- Noon passes, but the Times finally posts a story stamped 12:07pm PDT. (I got a screen shot.)
- LATimes.com asks readers to "weigh in": "Does it matter?" they ask.
- Less than an hour later, at 12:55pm, Times staffer Steve Lopez, a guy who's not shy with his opinion, posts a light-hearted article, "A sizzling summer at City Hall." He calls the affair "at least as entertaining as anything on the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show." "Are girlfriends allowed in [the mayor's mansion]?" Lopez jovially asks.
The breakup of a family is almost always sad news, but no one at the Times seems as riled up with Villaraigosa as Scheer was with Gingrich. (As far as the "hypocrisy" angle, read below.)
If you want to read something that illustrates the major difference between the folks at the LA Daily News and the LA Times, check out this amazing, must-read editorial ("The Cheat and The Homewrecker") from Daily News editorial-page editor Chris Weinkopf. Sorry for posting almost the whole thing and for getting carried away with the bold lettering, but it's that good (emphasis mine):
Pardon me for employing such very un-PC language. I know the rules of modern sexual discourse are supposed to preclude me from using any words that could possibly be deemed "judgmental." Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa isn't a cheat, he's just a married man who is "dating" a woman other than his wife. And Mirthala Salinas isn't a homewrecker, she's just involved in a "relationship" with a married man that has, well, wrecked home life for Corina, Fe, and Antonio Villaraigosa, Jr.
Please. Look, I make no judgment on their souls -- Lord knows, we all have our sins, and we all need mercy -- but I'm not afraid to cast judgment on these "lovers'" actions. They are a despicable travesty that are causing great pain to Villaraigosa's family, a pain that will endure for decades. I refuse to play the game of pretending that this "romance" is cute or healthy, or that it is a "private matter."
Marriage is, by definition, a public matter. That's why we hold weddings in public, and get the government to sanction them. Indeed, marriage is the foundational institution of our society. The violation of one's wedding vows is much more than a private betrayal; its repercussions extend far beyond the couple. No, it's not our business to monitor what goes on in the Villaraigosas' home, but it is our duty not to condone adultery, and to support the aggrieved.
As for privacy, Antonio himself has used his image as a family man to further his career. To this day, a picture of him standing with his (abandoned) wife and (abandoned) son appears on his website. (In the mother of all ironies, the image dissolves into various other photos, including one of Villaraigosa with fellow noted philanderer Bill Clinton.) [*NOTE by DP: It appears that the photo he's talking about is no longer there.*] And, as one colleague observed to me this morning, this man who lives for the camera can't exactly now go telling the world to honor his privacy.
The noble course of action here is plain: End the adultery, try to make amends with your wife, and repent. If that's too hard to do while living in a media fish bowl and playing mayor to the world, then quit. The city will survive without you; your family, probably not.
How about that, folks! Amen.
Last interesting tidbit: Speculation about Villaraigosa had been swirling on blogs for quite a while. An anonymous commenter at this blog actually posted on June 9, "The word around City Hall is that [Villaraigosa] is having a affair with Mirthala Salinas, political news reporter for Telemundo, and that it has been going on for some time now." Apparently today's news wasn't "news" to some people!