An Eerie #TrumpTapes Coincidence

A similar scandal failed to derail Arnold Schwarzenegger from Oct. 7, 2003 California Recall victory.

We all know what happened in U.S. politics Oct. 7, 2016. The Access Hollywood hot-mic events of 2005, broken by the Washington Post, will carry right through tonight’s Saturday Night Live Cold Open and into Sunday’s second 2016 Presidential candidates debate.

Friday’s Donald J. Trump bus-wreck also coincides with the date in 2003 when California voters were asked to choose between Republican challenger Arnold Schwarzenegger and standing California Governor Gray Davis. The historic Oct. 7, 2003 state Recall vote took place in the shadow of long-simmering rumblings that the challenger had groped numerous women.

One wonders what might have happened in 2003 if social media and video evidence existed. Tracy Weber, a reporter who helped investigate the Schwarzenegger groping story at that time for the Los Angeles Times, wrote an interesting piece in 2011 that connected Schwarzenegger’s actions to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal. She is now with ProPublica. Recalled Weber, at the time:

The victims’ experiences with Schwarzenegger were double humiliations. First they suffered through the acts themselves: demeaning–often public–groping, unwanted, invasive kisses, crude, belittling comments.

Far worse, they felt forced by circumstance to let Schwarzenegger behave badly—like an over-indulged toddler, as one woman put it. A complaint against the bigger-than-life moneymaker could tank their careers. Not a single woman felt anyone would have taken their side or chastised the star.

The abuse of power—and the judgments underlying it – were relevant facts for Californians preparing to cast a historic vote. (As was Hollywood’s repeated willingness to look the other way, but that is another story).

Substitute “GOP” for the word “Hollywood” above and you have today’s Trump situation, essentially. Weber’s 2011 ProPublica essay piece was prompted by the revelation that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his housekeeper. Astonishingly, at the time of the 2003 L.A. Times investigation, Weber found a second woman who appeared to have also borne Schwarzenegger a child outside of his marriage to Maria Shriver.

In the ProPublica piece, Weber highlights several alleged Schwarzenegger incidents as well as his apology, delivered three days before California Recall voting day. Schwarzenegger of course has taken over for Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice front and is set to debut in that capacity on NBC Jan. 2.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.
Publish date: October 8, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT