Friday, August 12, 2005

"I Gave Arnold A Full Body Massage"

It's a headline you should have seen in the National Enquirer, but showing the restraint for which the Enquirer has become famous, the tabloid not only buried the story of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's affair with a woman named Gigi Goyette, it arranged to own the rights to her story in perpetuity (forever and a day).

The Los Angeles Times breaks down the story and provides insight into the Enquirer's motivation to bury such a sensational front page feature.

"Days after Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race for governor and girded for questions about his past, a tabloid publisher wooing him for a business deal promised to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the candidate.

American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, signed a friend of the woman to a similar contract about the alleged relationship for $1,000.

If American Media was buying exclusive rights to the women's stories, said the person, who has a confidentiality agreement with the company and spoke on condition of anonymity, "why didn't the stories run? That's the obvious question."

"AMI systematically bought the silence" of the women, said the person. Schwarzenegger "was a de facto employee and he was important to their bottom line."

Schwarzenegger biographer Laurence Leamer wrote in his book, "Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger," that Schwarzenegger understood the tabloids would not skewer him if he was entering a business relationship with the company — although Schwarzenegger told Leamer he did not specifically seek such assurances.

Indeed, during the recall campaign, American Media put out a 120-page magazine celebrating Schwarzenegger as an embodiment of the "American dream."

American Media Inc. did far more for Schwarzenegger than just buy the silence of a couple of women would could embarrass the governor to be. American Media also bought, Arnold. For a ghost written column and a couple of public appearance per year, American Media bought Arnold's name and image for its line of muscle magazines.

"But American Media was effectively protecting Schwarzenegger's political interests, said a person who worked at the company when the contracts were signed. At the same time, American Media was crafting a deal to make Schwarzenegger executive editor of Flex and Muscle & Fitness magazines, helping to lure readers and advertisers."

Arnold's deal with American Media was recently revealed by the Times as well.

"American Media ... reached its agreement with Schwarzenegger on Nov. 15, 2003, two days before he was sworn in as governor. The deal was to pay him, by the company's estimates, at least $8 million over five years and no less than $5 million.

Schwarzenegger dropped the contract last month after the arrangement was made public in the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee."

If you're Arnold, you've got to be thinking "is this a great country or what?" Sure a lot better than old Austria.