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Tim Rutten on Private Actions, Public Scrutiny re: Villaraigosa/Salinas

Tim Rutten gives the word from on high about the media and the mayor and the mistress.

Los Angeles mayors Sam Yorty and Tom Bradley were married men who had affairs, which never got into the papers because, even if City Hall reporters had been inclined to pursue the story, it would have been virtually impossible to make it conform to the standards their editors enforced.

Yes, back in the dear golden days of wordsmithery. The less charitable might think that those (nearly always male) editors were cronies and pals of those politicians, and would be glad to keep such secrets. After all, man’s life is his own affair, can’t go telling tales out of school, etc.

See Ben Bradlee and JFK and Mary Meyer.

See Ben Bradlee and JFK and Judith Exner:

Ben Bradlee has told us of his horrified astonishment at finding that Ms Exner knew all of the secret telephone numbers for contacting the President out of hours.


Rutten is appalled at Luke Ford and Kevin Roderick and at his own paper. He’s also distressed with the actions of Salinas and Villaraigosa, but only as far as city business goes.

Villaraigosa’s personal connection with Salinas is a private issue that legitimately concerns only the two of them and their families. No one else has a moral or rhetorical right to an opinion on that aspect of their conduct. However, the fact that Salinas continued to report on the mayor while they were involved in this fashion is a public issue.

Voters might not have a moral right to an opinion, but they’re going to form one nevertheless. Would Rutten prefer that his paper withhold information from readers, on the grounds that they might use that information in an unauthorized manner?

There’s also a front page story about Mayor Tony’s political future. Various analysts ponder, while City Hall apparachniks move into high gear:

The mayor’s aides, anxious to jettison the controversy and repair the mayor’s image, plan a blitzkrieg of appearances and announcements in the coming weeks to show that Villaraigosa is focused on his job.

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