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May 17th, 2011
06:14 AM ET

Schwarzenegger admits to fathering child with household staff-member

News breaking this morning that Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to fathering a child with a household staff-member.

Our Question of the Day: Do a politician's private transgressions matter to their public life?

Weigh in here and let us know what you think. Kiran and Christine could read your response on air.

Filed under: AM Asks
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Cheryl

    He probably decided to make this public to boost his career.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  2. CiGi

    Arnold's mistress did not break up his marriage – Arnold did. Yes, the mother of Arnold's son born outside of a marriage can be held accountable for her role in engaging in an affair with a married man; but Arnold is the must-be-held accountable player.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  3. Aj Chancellor

    Of course character matters–everyone's does regardless of what they do. Arnold and Maria have always been smart cookies; get it out-don't try to hide anything-get it over with so everyone will get bored. Remember Billy Jean King! She was brilliant. Too bad President Clinton didn't take a lesson. I say good for them! Once a bad secret's out it loses interest.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  4. Judy

    Does character matter? Duh! He not only cheated on his wife, he now has a 9 or 10 year old who has grown up without a father. Ye it is our business. He is paid with tax payer money.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  5. Hans Kindt

    Heck yes, it matters! Disgusting .

    May 17, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  6. Linda Ann Prsil

    A politician's private life should generally be kept private, But that changes when a politician makes family values an issue–Newt Gingrich comes to mind. Another exception would be criminal-type behavior, such as that alleged against Strauss-Kahn. Schwarzenegger's may be more like the latter, because it was an employer-employee situation, where there was a power inequality.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  7. Kelly J.

    You're asking me if I trust a "politician" who lies to his wife, children, family and all humans who trust him, but only in his private affairs? Oh, that's right, he tells the truth while on camera. Yeah, sure he does.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  8. Hans Kindt

    Yes, yes, YES absolutely it "matters"! I'm appalled and disgusted. I would not work for or associate with anyone who did this, and they certainly should not hold any position of authority, influence or leadership. I will not be paying to go see any of his movies and supporting his life of luxury in the future, I can assure you of that. For shame.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  9. Allison

    Let's not forget that this man was upset because he could not run for the presidency. Whew (brow wipe)

    May 17, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  10. Anne from Clermont FL

    It is unfortunate that so many of our elected leaders choose to behave so badly. No wonder that the image of policians has been so cheapened.

    The behavior of public figures in their private lives is evidence of their overall character and that matters, at least for those who represent me.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  11. Mattie

    Of course it matter. Our politicians are expected to make decisions of a moral and ethical nature. If they are not able to maintain the sanctity of their own marriage and are able to succumb to different temptations, how do we know that in other cases, they will be moral, ethical and honest with us.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  12. sp

    Absolutely. It's a direct reflection of their character, something we need most in our politicians and yet seem to get the least.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  13. W

    If a man will screw around on his wife after making a vow to her in front of his friends, his family and his god then he will certainly screw you in bussiness and should never be trusted in public office. This is my opinion. Maybe you should ask "The Newt"for his.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  14. MeLoN

    Arnold is a snake. He had no respect for his wife or family.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  15. Joe

    It does matter... those elected to public office have responsibilities and power (passing laws, etc.) that affects us. What they do in private matters because it reflects their character, and character matters.

    In addition, issues such as hidden illegitimate children, and vices can be used to compromise an office holders positions. Character has always mattered, when that is no longer true, it is time it quit.

    May 17, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  16. denise

    who out there does not have something in their closet? they are human like us ,not idols to be expected to act as we see fit.if we cast stones we should be ready for the boulder that will come our way.sure we want our kids to be influenced in a good way but let us parents be the role models to our own kids. it starts at home

    May 17, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  17. Brian Kotler

    If a politician can't uphold his/her marriage vows to the one whom he/she loves most on this planet, how can they be trusted to be honest to thousands – if not millions – of people, aka us voters.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  18. Gary

    Of course they do. The most important characteristic in leadership is credibility...honesty. If he couldn't be honest with the most important "constituency” in his life, his family, how could the people of the State of California believe that they could trust him with the issues of the state? If he lied to his wife (for ten years), who’s to say he wouldn’t bat an eyelash to lie to those he was elected to serve about anything , anytime it best serves him. Clearly he knew this was wrong, was only concerned about himself and could care less about those he was sworn to serve.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  19. Cindy Hively

    I don't think their personal life is any of our business. I think how they do their job is more important than what they do in their bedroom. Unfortunately, this makes better headlines. They are just people with flaws like every body else.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  20. Ana

    Yes it does. Even though it is their private lives, as public figures they are expected to be open and honest with the American people. Knowing what they do out of the public's view helps us all get a better picture of who they are as a person, and their morals.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  21. George Langley

    A politicians private transgressions only matter when the politician makes a very big deal about other politician's transgressions, or when a politician runs on conservatives values, then violates those same values.

    Since Schwarzenegger did not run on such values, his transgressions are not a political issue to me. Others deserve whatever scorn they bring upon themselves by saying on thing for political purposes but doing another thing in private.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  22. Mona Martin

    It matters. If a politician can't be honest with the person to whom he/she has made a commitment, and is willing to cheat on a spouse and place his/her family's future in harm's way, why would he/she care about the general public? If one could do this to the people he is supposed to love, it doesn't bode well for the rest of his when a tough, moral decision comes along.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  23. Patrick

    Obviously the only people who care about famous people (movie stars, politicians and professional athletes, etc.) and their "secret lives" is the media.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  24. lucy

    it is the people who vote for politicians. We have every right to judge them, as their actions can affect how they are preceived. Negativity breeds negativity. Something such as cheating should not be taken lightly, especially if they talk about family and moral values.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  25. Jan

    If a man cheats on those he claims to love most in this world, he will certainly be capable of dishonesty in his career, regardless of whether that is in the public or private sector.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  26. Mary

    Of course it matters. If he can easily betray his wife and children, the people he should love and respect the most, how easily can he betray the voters?

    May 17, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  27. Ireporttwo

    Yes it matters to me. A man that cheats on his wife is slime. And Arnold had a child that old and is just telling his wife.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  28. Dan from Chicago, IL

    When a man or woman is in the public eye and is looked up to by many his private life should be as sacred as his public life.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  29. Randy Causey

    Does a politician's private transgressions private transgressions matter to their public life?

    Twenty-Five years ago you would have thought it foolish to even address something this rediculous. Today, you are expecting the answer that "Public" and "Private" are two different worlds.

    Perhaps I am old school. But I believe that a man (woman) should stand for something. For their principles, for their beliefs. That these are what create and build character. By the same token, these are the things which one will fight for. A wise man of my day and one of even before (Malcolm X and A Hamilton) have said, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." A man must stand by his word. That is the entire premise of testimony in our court system. That is the honour system in our Universities.

    How can anyman be held as credible if he preaches one thing and practices another. Yet I see the youth of today give credit to one who can deal from both the top and bottom of the deck. This is assummed that everyone else is doing it, so if the person in question can, "Good for him". Well we have a significant percentage of our 535 legislators doing the same thing.

    So where and when did this start? It wasn't LBJ. He knew he couldn't get elected after promising "I am not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.“ (and then 58,195 lives later) It wasn't RMN. We (my generation) chased him out of Washington.

    Somewhere around WJC the lines between honesty, your word, an oath, the term sexual relations and the definition of "is" became obliterated. Jesse Jackson was none the better (a whole legacy there and we can start with the term Reverend and where he was April 4th).

    Somebody is not holding our leaders accountable and it has now infected our culture. Perhaps it is the "fifth estate"! (use a mirror!)

    May 17, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  30. Trina

    What he did to his family was so wrong, what's worse is what's he's doing to this child by appologizing for his "mistake". A real man would stand up and do the right thing by the child. Does he think of no one but himself?

    May 17, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  31. Lorie

    Yes, a politician's private transgressions matter to their public life. We as the public are asked to believe and trust them about their promises to us about how they will handle our city, state, country. If they can't keep those promises to the people who trust and believe in them the most, how can we?

    May 17, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  32. edward

    It matters greatly, ...

    as proved by

    (a) the fact that the public figures typically make extraordinary, and sometimes coercive, and even illegal, efforts to cover up

    (b) the fact that many of these acts are illegal under various states' laws (e.g. adultery is a criminal offense in Virginia) ( the conservative used to say that 'since sodomy is illegal in our state, all gays are criminals, and therefore should not hold office, keep jobs, be teachers, have any rights, etc'; so, shouldn't the conservatives say exactly the same about adulterers? but, of course, they don't, since many of these adulterers are conservatives)

    (c) the fact of the profound hypocrisy of public figures and their supporters : they say 'family' is sacred, and heterosexuals are a privileged form of family, and the monogamous marriage is a privileged form of family, but then do do another thing

    So, certainly, it matters, a lot.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  33. Tyson Greza

    Mr. Schwarzenegger made vowels to his wife that he promised to keep, and he broke those, then kept it a secret. What will stop him from breaking his promises to the public and trying to hide it?

    May 17, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  34. Paul

    It's pretty simple! Any man that would lie to his wife, mother of his kids, and to the kids themself, would lie to you and I without any hesitation. They have no business in politics, and should have no involvement in making any decision for me.

    It's a classic case of "do as I say, not as I do"

    May 17, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  35. Aubrey

    Frankly all adults have some problem in their private lives and how they choose to deal with it is their own problem. That is of course with the exception of social conservatives who make it their business to police the private lives of others. In those cases, it is the blantant hypocrisy that deserves attention, not the marital strife.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  36. Rael

    How can anyone claim this is a private matter? Last time I checked, wedding vows are made in public. If he is breaking his wedding vows, I'd say it's very likely he broke campaign promises.

    May 17, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  37. Gordon Bietz

    I am a university president – would it be suggested that my cavorting with an of age student would not impact my public leadership? Can I trust the public promises when a public figure can't keep private promises? It is ludicrous to think that you can build a high wall between the public and private lives of leaders!

    May 17, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  38. joseph

    What a pig he is to have his child and mistress living in same house and not knowing. Did she share governor mansion too? worst governor ever also. Arnold. Please don't come back. Girl man literally

    May 17, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  39. Karen Dedmon

    When you take a political office, you take an oath. When you get married you take an oath.

    I only trust those who keep their word.

    How can you trust someone that does not keep a promise privately.

    If he breaks one oath what keeps him from breaking public oaths?

    May 17, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  40. Keith

    These stories are getting old. I don't know why you women haven't just given up on us by this time. Guys lack morals and always act on their caveman impulses. And it will never change because most women forgive them and if they don't there's always a line of women waiting who are willing to overlook all of their past lies.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  41. Joanna

    Of COURSE it matters. It speaks to honesty, integrity, and moral values. We are SICK of dishonest, immoral, hypocritical politicians. They should all be FIRED....recalled.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  42. James

    If he will cheat on his wife and his vows to her, wouldn't he cheat on the public??
    Alma, AR

    May 17, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  43. Kyle Adams

    I think it plays into the much larger issue of morality. If a public official cannot be moral in their private life, how are they going to make decisions that affect the country as a whole.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  44. Maria Smith

    Yes, a politician's private transgressions private transgressions most definitely matter to their public life. It's a matter of trust and honesty.
    How are today's children and youth supposed to learn how to behave when everyone they see doesn't seem to be able to?

    May 17, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  45. Jessica

    Absolutely it matters – look, he was a lousy politician anyways. Yet – she should have known better – it was all in his personal history. He is a scumbag.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  46. Robert Gibbs

    Infidelity is never accepted. If they will cheat and decieve someone they love they will cheat the public.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  47. Al Jackson

    It's the Thomas Jefferson syndrome.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  48. Marilynn

    Yes it matters. It shows lack of moral character and honor which are important traits for decision making.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  49. Paul

    If someone's word is not valid in marriage then why should we have any confidence in their public statements? They have established they are a liar and their word cannot be trusted. BTW lets use the word lie and liar and not let any politician get by with the twist of misspoken.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  50. Agnes Reid

    It should matter only as it relates to what comes out of his or her mouth regarding values. IE former Senator John Ensign ( I might have misspelled his last name). He wanted President Clinton Impeached now look at him. If politicians don't publicly judge others then their private trangressions should be between them, their God and their partner.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  51. Josiah

    When you are in a leadership role, especially one of that caliber, it is pertinent that you conduct yourself in a manner that is above reproach. These icons in society are looked up to by so many and such abhorrent actions give a false impression that this type of behavior is normal and accepted.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  52. Lee

    Are you KIDDING? If they can't show integrity, honesty and some decency in their personal life, how can they be trusted with OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY AND LIVES?

    MEN in politics, in particular, seem to get power mad and think they can get by with just about anything and we should forgive them. A WOMAN doing this would be crucified!!!!!

    Those in Politics at ALL levels need to GET A GRIP! What ever happened to setting an example for others? Young people across the country watch these people – and LEARN from them, be the lessons good ones or not!!!

    May 17, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  53. cecilia caro

    Good to see them to divorce in a civilized manner. That is real love.
    Wonderful couple and they did a good job. They respect each other regardless. Way to go. Life goes on. Wish you both the best.

    May 17, 2011 at 6:33 am |