Where's Vicki?

by digby

On a day when thoroughly depressing tabloid drivel hits the stands, it's probably a good time to once again ask the question Kathy G has been asking for months: why are the tabloids obsessed with Obama and write almost nothing about McCain? (She even goes so far as to make regular trips to the news stands to peruse them for McCain dirt --- a duty for which she deserves some kind of special hazard pay.)

I wrote a post about the way the tabloids were portraying Obama a while back. I think this one is especially nice:

Wondering why Obama is appearing in all the "celebrity tabloids" while McCain is completely absent, Kathy G referenced the unusual case of the womanizing Austrian movie cyborg who ran for office --- and the tabloids ignored it all. The story behind that odd circumstance was revealed by the LA Times:

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.

American Media’s contract with Gigi Goyette of Malibu is dated Aug. 8, 2003, two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Under the agreement, Goyette must disclose to no one but American Media any information about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger.

American Media never solicited further information from Goyette or her friend, Judy Mora, also of Malibu, both women said. The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California’s first lady.

On Aug. 14, 2003, as candidate Schwarzenegger was negotiating a consulting deal with American Media, the company signed its contract with Mora, who said she received $1,000 cash in return. Goyette declined to say whether she received the $20,000 promised in her contract.

Rob Stutzman, the governor’s communications director, said he believed Schwarzenegger did not know of American Media’s deals with the women. Schwarzenegger is on vacation and not available for comment, Stutzman said.

Stutzman denied any link between AMI’s deal with Schwarzenegger and the company’s agreements with the two women.

“There is no connection with his business with AMI or AMI’s business of purchasing the rights to stories,” Stutzman said. “That’s what they do. Obviously, part of their business is the tabloid business.”

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 and Fitness magazines, helping to lure readers and advertisers.

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.”

That was evidently a business deal rather than a strictly political one (although I have to say even that explanation is a stretch) , but it does make clear that whatever reputation for "getting the story" the tabs have attained over the past few years (as the gasbags keep insisting) is highly overstated. Considering the Schwarzenneger deal, it is more than fair to ask if somebody with money and business to dangle in their faces might be pulling strings to perpetuate an "Obama the celebrity" campaign and disseminate some of the myths that a lot of people who don't pay attention to politics but check out the tabloids in the grocery store line might absorb without even knowing it.

There must be some explanation as to why there have been no stories about Vicki Iseman, no drug stories about Cindy, no stories about McCain's legendary temper tantrums. Why?