Whopper of the Week: Arianna Huffington.

Whopper of the Week: Arianna Huffington.

Whopper of the Week: Arianna Huffington.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 22 2003 10:23 AM

Whopper of the Week: A. Huffington

If Arianna voted against Prop 187, why did she argue publicly for it at the time?

"[ California gubernatorial candidate] Arianna Huffington: Arnold Schwarzenegger … has [former California Gov.] Pete Wilson, for heaven's sake, chairing * his campaign committee. I mean, how insensitive can you be? The man who introduced [California] Proposition 187, about illegal immigration into California, and the man who is despised by Latinos, the very people Schwarzenegger needs. So there is some kind of disconnect between the moderate image and the reality. Incidentally, Schwarzenegger himself was in favor of 187.

"Paul Begala: But now did you support Proposition 187? Because I know that your husband did when he was in the Congress. He was running for the Senate.

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"Huffington: Yes, my ex-husband did. I voted against it [italics Chatterbox's]."

Exchange on CNN's Crossfire, Aug. 12, 2003

"[Proposition] 187 is strictly about the anger and the frustration of taxpayers, who work extremely hard, often having two jobs in one family, to take care of their families, to take care of their children. And then, their hard-earned money is being used to pay for taxpayer services for illegal immigrants. This is at the heart of 187. And if you try to portray it in any other way, you're missing the point."

—Huffington on CNN & Company, Nov. 3, 1994

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"After Ms. Huffington stated in interviews her opposition to Proposition 187, a ballot measure that bars immigrants from receiving state services and that Mr. Schwarzenegger supported, [her ex-husband, conservative Republican Michael] Huffington went out of his way, calling a reporter two times after an interview, to say she had encouraged him to support the measure in his [1994 Senate] campaign."

Sarah Kershaw, "A Candidate Who Confounds, Charms, and Reaps Publicity," in the Aug. 17 New York Times

Discussion. It's vaguely conceivable that Huffington told the truth on Crossfire—i.e., that she voted against Proposition 187 back in 1994 even though she argued for it publicly and encouraged her husband to support it. (Since 1994, Huffington's politics have shifted dramatically to the left, so she's almost certainly sincere when she says today that she now deplores Prop 187.) But if Huffington really did vote against Prop 187 nine years ago, then her advocacy on its behalf was the lie.

Incidentally, support for Proposition 187 would have been entirely consistent with Huffington's general views back then about immigration. In a June 1995 debate on PBS's Firing Line, Huffington argued for the resolution, "All immigration should be drastically reduced." Her views were apparently unshaken by the embarrassing revelation, during her husband's Senate race the previous year, that the Huffingtons had hired an illegal alien to care for their children. The couple ended up paying more than $10,000 in federal and state taxes, penalties, and interest.

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(Thanks to Matt Welch's "Hit and Run" blog on the Reason magazine Web site and to Mickey Kaus' "Kausfiles" blog on Slate.)

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Aug. 8, 2003: Howard Dean
July 25, 2003: Condoleezza Rice
July 18, 2003: President Bush
July 10, 2003: Donald Rumsfeld
June 27, 2003: Remembering Strom
June 20, 2003: Billy Bulger
May 30, 2003: Ari Fleischer
May 23, 2003: Donald Rumsfeld
May 19, 2003: Un-Whopper: Ari Fleischer Tells Truth!
May 2, 2003: Peggy Cooper Cafritz
April 17, 2003: Eason Jordan
March 7, 2003: John Kerry
Feb. 28, 2003: Ari Fleischer
Feb. 14, 2003: Bill O'Reilly
Feb. 7, 2003: Saddam Hussein
Jan. 31, 2003: Karl Rove
Jan. 23, 2003: Bill Frist
Jan. 17, 2003: Naji Sabri
Jan. 10, 2003: Rod Paige

(Click here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2002 and here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)

Correction, Sept. 9, 2003: An earlier version of this piece inadvertently passed along a typo from the CNN transcript rendering "chairing" as "cheering." (Return to the corrected sentence.)