Arnold’s Scandal:Terminator, Governator or …?

Last week the news broke that former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently separated with his wife, had fathered a child with a house maid over a decade ago.

In a press conference, Schwarzenegger acknowledged that he had fathered a child of a longtime household staff member. He said Shriver (his ex-wife) didn’t learn the child was his until he told her after leaving the governor’s office in January. He apologized to his wife and four children and asked the media to respect his family:

“I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time. While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not.”

This simple request kept “some” traditional media a little more cautious when covering the story. They acted with restraint, refusing to publish the names and photographs of the housekeeper and her son. But many others have confirmed the identity of a woman, described her house, and her image splashed on TV screens, newspapers and web sites.

The woman was identified in numerous media reports as Mildred Baena, a 50 year-old separated former housekeeper, who has a registered address in the central California city of Bakersfield.

The scandal has created a media frenzy in Bakersfield and television crews and reporters swarmed to the property, where Schwarzenegger’s former mistress and son are believed to live. Some reports even said that Schwarzenegger bought the house for her last year.

The scandal was one of the day’s leading headlines, and merited a mention if not a segment on most every CNN news hour Tuesday.

TV channels, including ABC News, CBS News and Fox News, were on display Baena, as well as various online sources, including Yahoo.

The Los Angeles Times, which first reported Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with a longtime family employee, has not named the woman but has said that she retired in January 2011, after working for 20 years. The Times also did not publish the former staffer’s name nor that of her child.

Associated Press released the name of Baena only after it has run several news agencies.

Gossip sites such as TMZ and Radaronline.com have been busy posting photos of Baena and other details. Star magazine claimed that the housekeeper was fired by Schwarzenegger after 20 years service in a bid to save his marriage to Maria Shriver.

Maria Shriver, meanwhile, made a brief walk-on appearance since the scandal broke, appearing at the side of longtime friend Oprah Winfrey at a farewell show for the TV talk show host in Chicago on Tuesday night. “You’ve given me love, support, wisdom, and most of all, the truth,” Shriver told her old friend Winfrey.

On the other hand, two of Schwarzenegger’s children have tweeted following the breaking of the news:

Katherine Schwarzenegger wrote, “This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as I begin to heal and move forward in life . I will always love my family!”

“ Some days you feel like shit, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet I love my family till death do us apart.” Patrick Schwarzenegger wrote.

The scandal was also present to America’s L.A.-based late-night talk shows. Long-time Schwarzenegger friend Jay Leno joked on “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday said,

“Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff. The woman’s husband became suspicious when he realized she was the first maid to make $1 million a year…Arnold kept this secret for more than 10 years. You know how he did it? He moved the woman and child into an apartment right down the street from the Pakistani military academy…you know what Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman have in common? They both got in trouble for stiffing the maid…today Arnold was offered the job as the new head of the International Monetary Fund.”

Comedian Conan O’Brien also in his opening monologue said,

“My name is Conan O’Brien, but I can now publicly call myself Schwarzenegger Jr.,”

“Its me, actually I am the guy!”

“ Schwarzenegger secretly fathered a child outside of his marriage 10 years ago. He told his wife at the time but it took 10 years for her to figure out what he was saying…he kept this hidden for over a decade, which is pretty shocking. I had no idea he was that good an actor.”

So, there’s been lot of writings and discussions about Arnold Schwarzenegger last week. I believe most of it has not been kind enough. And the scandal caused an unusual ethical dilemmas in the media.

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