Maria Shriver defends Schwarzenegger on ''Oprah.'' She bristles at Oprah's suggestion that, as a Kennedy woman, she was trained to ignore spouse's adultery

By Gary Susman
Updated September 16, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver and Oprah Winfrey: George Burns/Harpo Productions via Getty Images/NewsCom

Speaking out in her first TV interview since her husband announced his candidacy for governor of California, NBC newswoman Maria Shriver told Oprah Winfrey that she shouldn’t pay heed to tabloid rumors and old stories (even those from the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s own mouth) that paint him as a misogynist or a womanizer. ”I know the man I’m married to,” she said on Monday’s ”Oprah,” with her husband by her side. ”I make up my mind on him, based on him. Not based on what people say.” Still, Schwarzengger managed to embarrass his wife on the air with some graphic sex talk.

Schwarzenegger told Winfrey he didn’t remember giving the 1977 Oui magazine interview in which he boasted of drug use and participating in group sex, but he said that in his bachelor days, he used to exaggerate for the press. ”This was the time when I was saying things like, ‘A pump [lifting weights] is better than coming,’ all those kinds of things.” Shriver then gave him a mock slap across the mouth, saying, ”My mother is watching this show!” (Not to mention California voters.)

Shriver bristled at Oprah’s question about whether, as a Kennedy woman, she’d been raised to ignore a husband’s adultery. ”You know that really ticks me off,” she said. ”I am my own woman. I have not been, quote, bred to look the other way.”

Winfrey’s interview aired the same day that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that may delay the recall election for five months beyond its scheduled Oct. 7 date, on the grounds that the obsolete, soon-to-be-replaced punch-card voting machines used by 44 percent of the voters were too prone to ”hanging chad” errors to give a proper count. Late in the day, Schwarzenegger issued a statement saying that he would continue to campaign and urging the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the ruling.