A barrage of analysis on the Governor’s secret $8 million deal with two bodybuilding magazines and their dietary supplement-industry advertisers sheds new light on why this particular business-political relationship is so problematic.
Dan Smith points out in the Sacramento Bee that the 20-month-old revelation sort of flies in the face of Schwarzenegger’s pledge of openness that he made when he was elected out of the recall in 2003.
The New York Times looks at the connection noted here last week between Schwarzenegger and the tabloid newspapers that American Media Inc. also owns. Can you say, hush money?
But the read of the day is definitely Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column in the Los Angeles Times. He doesn’t pull any punches as he lets the Governor have it for his financial ties to an industry that has a pretty well-documented history of misrepresenting its products’ safety to the public.
Last week’s reports in this newspaper about the arrangement observed that supplement manufacturers are heavy advertisers in the magazines, “Flex” and “Muscle & Fitness.” This is inaccurate. Judging from the August issues, supplement manufacturers are pretty much the only advertisers in these magazines, which are little more than supplement sales catalogs wrapped around photo spreads of freakishly distended musculatures. Schwarzenegger, who has been close to the dietary supplement industry since his bodybuilding days, saw nothing wrong in his relationship with the magazines and their major advertisers. (He still doesn’t — he’ll continue to contribute columns to both, and he’s keeping the money he already pocketed.)
But there’s nothing innocent about the supplement industry. It has been hawking its products for years using the same techniques perfected by cigarette manufacturers — pushing them at kids by sponsoring athletic contests, lining up celebrity endorsements, downplaying evidence of adverse health effects.