There was an eerie silence about the revelations, especially among those blanket-covering the recall, including talk-radio and television gadflies not exactly known for being shy about shouting their opinions. On Thursday morning, conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly referred to the Schwarzenegger interview on his radio show only in passing to opine that “People’s personal lives have nothing to do with their political lives.” Yet O’Reilly had been among those many pundits and politicians who consistently maintained that the details of Bill Clinton’s sexual past were appropriate fodder for political attacks and press probes — a position vigorously opposed by both liberals and even moderates. At the same, some Democrats who had wanted everyone to keep silent about Clinton’s blowjobs were ready to stir the political pot and watch Schwarzenegger boil. Amazing that the media would slap down such sensationalism.
By Friday, shock had turned to show. But as the holiday weekend continued, fewer radio and television commentators were discussing the content and context of the interview with politicians and pundits. That’s because a tacit consensus had been reached among these men, not just Schwarzenegger’s supporters but even conservative Republicans who would have been expected to voice indignation, that it would be a mistake to exploit this bump in his political path for “partisan” reasons.
The only mistake here was the media’s, for not making all these hot-button issues into Topic A. Hollywood, ever alert for the next big story, would have known better.