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Ed Driscoll

Polanski To Applebaum To Kurtz

September 28th, 2009 - 1:12 am

It’s not exactly Tinker to Evers to Chance, and the last player has yet to come up to bat, though I’ll certainly be curious how he’ll respond if he does. But let’s review the roster.

First up, as Ed Morrissey writes, “More than 30 years after his arrest and trial for statutory rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old girl, director Roman Polanski may have to face the music for his crime and his flight”:

Switzerland arrested Polanski on his way to receive an award from the Zurich Film Festival, surprising him and his French collaborators, who have kept Polanski from getting extradited to the US for decades.  They plan to send Polanski back to Los Angeles as soon as the US completes its extradition request (via HA commenter Mr. Joe):

Director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police for possible extradition to the United States for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl, authorities said Sunday.

Polanski was flying in to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was apprehended Saturday at the airport, the Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement. It said U.S. authorities have sought the arrest of the 76-year-old around the world since 2005.

“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming,” ministry spokesman Guido Balmer told The Associated Press. “That’s why he was taken into custody.” …

The Swiss statement said Polanski was officially in “provisional detention for extradition,” but added that he would not be transferred to U.S. authorities until all proceedings are completed. Polanski can contest his detention and any extradition decision in the Swiss courts, it said.

It’s not clear from the AP report whether the Swiss acted on an old outstanding arrest warrant, or whether the US had renewed efforts to arrest Polanski.  If it’s the former, then Barack Obama has a dilemma on his hands.  He gets a lot of support from the Hollywood community, who regularly lionize Polanski as a misunderstood genius.  They have long demanded that the US drop its charges against Polanski and allow him to return freely into the bosom of Hollywood.  Will he demand extradition or have to publicly admit he’s not interested in pursuing Polanski?

If the US renewed the warrant, it seems that Obama has already made the decision — and it would be the right decision, regardless of what the American film industry says.  As Bill Wyman wrote last February in Salon,  Hollywood has tried to sell the statutory rape as some sort of misunderstood love story.  They tried again last year in the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. The reality is that Polanski drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year-old girl.

Curiously involved in this story is Anne Applebaum, the author of the justly celebrated Gulag and many fine op-ed columns. Mark Hemingway writes:

Anne Applebaum’s invaluable contributions to the anti-communist canon give her a free pass on a lot of things as far as I’m concerned. But her item over at the Washington Post blog, “The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski,” is really beyond the pale. Objectionable content aside, her failure to disclose an obvious conflict of interest makes it particularly egregious.

What conflict of interest? The one that Patterico describes thusly:

In an earlier post I noted substantial inaccuracies and omissions in a post by Washington Post pundit Anne Applebaum in support of Roman Polanski. (For example, she said Polanski fled during his trial; in fact, he pled guilty and fled before his sentencing.) But I think this is worth its own post: Applebaum failed to mention that her husband is a Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for Polanski’s case to be dismissed:

In Polanski’s native Poland, President Lech Kaczynski and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said they would appeal to US authorities to drop proceedings against Polanski.

The PAP news agency said Sikorski was consideri[ng] a direct appeal to US President Barack Obama to end ‘once and for all’ the proceedings against the filmmaker.

Radoslaw Sikorski is married to Anne Applebaum:

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. . . . Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer.

Applebaum failed to mention this little fact.

So at the same time that she was giving readers a fact-challenged screed in support of Polanski, she was failing to disclose that her husband was a Polish official who was lobbying for Polanski’s freedom.

I work for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, which is seeking Polanski’s extradition; that is no secret to anyone who reads this blog (nor is it a secret that I do not speak on behalf of my office on this blog). By contrast, it is not well known to Applebaum’s readers that her husband is a Polish official actively involved in the effort on Polanski’s behalf.

This is reminiscent of the episode where Linda Greenhouse repeatedly reported on the facts of a case in which her husband was involved. The New York Times’s ombudsman opined that Greenhouse should have disclosed that connection.

This is no different. Applebaum should have disclosed this connection.

So what, if anything, will the Washington Post’s own in-house media critic have to say about all this, especially after his rather sanctimonious recent take on the Post’s lack of coverage of ACORN? Over to you, Howard!

Related: Hollywood veteran Roger L. Simon has some thoughts on “Roman’s Arrest: A View from Los Angeles.”

More: “AP Accidentally Publishes IM Conversation Speculating That Polanski Arrest Was Related To UBS.” And elsewhere, “L.A. Times Defends Monster Child Rapist Roman Polanski.”

Related: LaShawn Barber writes, “Uncovering this kind of thing is one of the reasons people blog. Back in the day, you had to find undisclosed conflicts of interest going through hard-copy documents (if you lacked personal knowledge), then calling the newspaper and/or sending a letter to the editor. Nowadays, a few minutes on Google and a blog will do.”

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