Category: Media Relations

“I take it very seriously. This is not a TV show. This is part of civics, the Constitution if you will in action, because this is helping millions of people decide who we’re going to elect as the next president.” — “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace upon moderating the third 2016 presidential debate

“No one could watch the final debate and deny that Chris Wallace is among the best in the business.” — Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 19: Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace speaks to the guests and attendees during the third U.S. presidential debate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

There were more than a few who took to social media to proclaim that Fox News Channel’s (FNC) Chris Wallace — not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump — as the real winner of 2016’s final presidential debate. The event marked the first time that Fox News moderated a general election presidential debate.

In two weeks, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, 72, will once again sit in the moderator’s chair September 29 for the first televised debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Based upon past Nielsen Ratings, the initial debate with its novelty typically draws the largest audience.

Almost DailyBrett and presumably others may be tempted to ask, what can Wallace do for an encore? Most likely more of the same.

Reminds one of the question posed to Sean Connery by People Magazine upon being named the sexiest hombre on the planet. His reply: “There is only one way to go.”

Your author fully anticipates that Wallace will not care about what is being said about his on social media during the course of 90-minute debate. When asked about all the praise he was receiving in 2016, he was gratified but quickly added his late father Mike Wallace of CBS 60 Minutes fame would not allow him to rest on his laurels even for a nanosecond.

‘Who do you have for Sunday?’ — Mike Wallace would have asked his son, if he (Mike) was still among the living.

Taking No Prisoners

“Do I have political opinions? Absolutely. But I have voted for the person, and I have voted for Republicans and Democrats and Independents over the course of my life. I feel very strongly that you try not to let that affect the way you report the news.” — Objective and professional Journalist Chris Wallace

There are those who believe that everything mentioned on Fox News benefits Donald Trump and the Republican Party and thus must be condemned. The nation has long needed a center-right all news station and Fox has filled that gap since 1996. Wallace’s selection to once again serve as a debate moderator is a public relations coup for Fox News.

The other 2016 moderators, Lester Holt of NBC, Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN, none of their services are required for this year’s debates. Could their collective crying, pontificating and bloviating have anything to do with their exclusion?

Almost DailyBrett contends that Wallace provided the nation in 2016 with a textbook example of how to moderate a contentious debate. Will he do it again? Bet on it.

Chris Wallace has long emerged from his father’s infamous shadow (e.g., ‘Mike Malice’) and has demonstrated at NBC, ABC and Fox News that he is a pro’s, pro.

Will he go easy on Donald Trump in two weeks time? Did he pull punches with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton four years ago? Based upon his previous performance, Wallace will be issues driven (i.e., Covid, economy, health care, law and order, riots and violence …). He will be undoubtedly well prepared and will accept no nonsense from the candidates. Under difficult circumstances, Wallace is expected to be in control.

Wallace will be a tough act to follow for second debate moderator (Thursday, October 15) Steve Scully, C-SPAN political editor, and the third debate (Thursday, October 22), Kristen Welker, NBC White House correspondent.

Hopefully, once again Wallace will set a professional standard that will compel subsequent moderators this year … and every presidential election year … to check their partisan biases at the door and instead draw out real answers from the final two candidates for the most important chief executive position on the planet.



“They stopped being journalists over the past month. They began being cheerleaders. And they began being people, who had a conclusion they reached and searched for facts that Hillary Clinton had a 92, 93, 99.99999 percent chance winner of winning this campaign.” — Joe Scarborough, MSNBC “Morning Joe” host, November 10, 2016

Almost DailyBrett does not know, who will win the presidency in 53 days time.

With three presidential debates in the offing, the first one moderated by Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace on Tuesday, September 29, and always the possibility of an October surprise (e.g., US troops finally come home from the Middle East), anything and everything is possible.

Considering that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are known commodities (putting it nicely), the race may come down to one of persona. One thing is certain today as it was four years ago: the media will not be fair.

The elites at New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Scarborough’s network, MSNBC, elevated everything positive about Hillary in the last few weeks of the campaign. They also refused to acknowledge anything worthwhile about Trump including his remote chances of winning.

If one suggested in the vernacular that Trump having even a snowball’s chance of winning, journalistic credentials would have been immediately questioned.

Scarborough in his day-after-the-day-after the election analysis did not name names or resort to recriminations. Instead, he suggested out loud the media with their poms-poms basically stating that Hillary had the race in the bag inadvertently depressed Democratic turnout.

If the race is effectively over, why go to the phone bank in Wisconsin? Why knock on doors in Michigan? Why hand out yard signs in Pennsylvania? Why register elderly voters in Florida?

Hillary won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes (she clobbered Trump in California by 4 million), but she lost 30 states and 306 electoral votes, (12th Amendment Electoral College) and with it, the White House.

Four years later, Biden is leading the RealClearPolitics quantitative national average by 7.5 percent and battleground states (i.e., Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania …) by 3.6 percent count or right above the 3.5 percent MOE or margin of error.

The rolling thunder of negative investigations against Trump have already begun (e.g., Atlantic Magazine, Bob Woodward …) and will pound away each day, every day. Will they depress high-propensity Republican voters? If anything they may even energize the GOP. Will they also lead to complacency among Democrats as “Morning Joe” suggested four years ago?

Elite Media Cluster East Of The Hudson River Disease

“You completely ignored the world. … It was much easier for you to stay in Manhattan and say, ‘They are only voting for Trump because they are racists and bigots.’ If you really do believe that 50 million are racists and bigots, and you really believe that, then I take pity on you.” — Joe Scarborough, MSNBC anchor

Being parochial Almost DailyBrett must rhetorically ask the media elites in Gotham and within the confines of The Beltway, can you even pronounce Oregon correctly when you are covering the nightly “peaceful protest” anarchy, looting, mob rule, riots and violence on the streets of Portland or the fires in the Willamette Valley.

Keep in mind it’s ‘Willamette, damn it.’

If someone does not buy into the Antifa violent agenda does that make you an awful person? In mostly white Oregon (e.g., 84.4 percent) night-after-night in Portland white thugs are battling white police officers ostensibly on behalf of the 1.9 percent of the state’s population, who is black.

As the media elite stare across the Hudson and beyond the Potomac, are they assigning once again the worst descriptors for those who do not agree with their enlightened views of the world? ‘Joe Biden will win. Right? Our polls say as much.’

Almost DailyBrett is extremely skeptical of any and all media polls. Besides being billed as genuine news events, do they reflect true public opinion plus or minus a 3.5 percent standard MOE? Or are they meant to drive public opinion on behalf of Joe Biden?

All the polls told us with virtually 100 percent confidence in 2016 (538’s Nate Silver was tarred and feathered for contending that Hillary’s chances were “only” 70 percent) that Hillary Clinton would be the 45th President of the United States and the first female chief of state.

They were wrong. Will they be wrong again?

Are the elite media engaged in the worst kind of intelligence gathering known to humanity, reaching a preordained conclusion and only looking for data that fits the story?

Maybe they should get their butts and masks onto airplanes, not make the worst assumptions about people’s reasoning (e.g., they are not all racists) and most of all … learn how to pronounce … Or-ee-gun.

“Read my lips: No new taxes.” — Vice President George H.W. Bush to the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans

One year later, George Herbert Walker Bush raised taxes. He lost his base.

One of the truisms of American politics is your enemies will never change. They will always be there for you.

The other is your friends can change. By the time 1992 rolled around, the tax-raising 41st President had very few friends. What the heck happened to “Read My Lips”?

Translated: The first order of political business is the caring, cuddling and nurturing of your electoral base, particularly one that is always high propensity on election day.

There is next-to-zero chance that President Donald Trump will win the popular vote on November 3. Four years ago, he lost California’s 55 electoral votes 2-to-1 (62.5 percent to 31.5 percent) by 4.27 million votes. His popular vote deficit nationwide was only 2.9 million, when you factor in the Golden State shallacking.

Has one-party California become even bluer (if that is even possible) in the last three-plus years? Considering that Senator Bernie Sanders won the state’s primary, Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Donald Trump’s number of enemies in California is growing to this date. The Golden State is hopeless in so many ways, except it can be a great source of fundraising. Joe Biden will win 55 electoral votes in his sleep.

Our troubled America will remain divided until another charismatic game-changing leader arrives (i.e., FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan). There are devoted friends and energized enemies of Donald Trump. One truism is apparent heading into the last 60 days: Trump’s friends are his friends.

The has-been RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) trotted out by the Democratic National Committee (i.e., John Kasich, Susan Molinari, Meg Whitman and Christine Todd Whitman) have zero impact on the high-propensity-to-vote Republican base.

As Chairman Mao exhorted the first item of business is to secure your reliable guerrilla base. During the just completed Republican National Convention, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers focused on base demographics (e.g., males) and psychographics (e.g., lower-middle income). He also used the GOP convention to chip into Joe Biden’s base (e.g., Hispanic hombres, African-American males and union members).

Exploiting A Political Mistake

“This mob is their voters. This is the new Democrat party, and if we don’t resist this, the United States is going to become Portland.” — Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is confronted by demonstrators during a protest in Washington, U.S. early August 28, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Sometimes what you don’t say speaks volumes.

Former Vice President Joe Biden did not utter one word during his Democratic Nomination acceptance speech August 20 about widespread anarchy, looting, rioting, violence and mob rule.

Big mistake. He left the door wide open for Donald Trump to exploit a juicy political opportunity.

Almost DailyBrett believes it would have been so easy to add language about the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine, and more importantly about burning cities onto Joe Biden’s teleprompter. The first was a minor mistake, the second was a whopper.

Has anarchy, looting, rioting and violence become the wedge issue of 2020?

Some were rooting for Covid-19 to be the political turning point for November 3. Not so fast. The private sector is moving forward with $5 immediate testing (e.g., Abbott Labs) and better yet Corona Virus vaccines (i.e., AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson).

The unruly mobs (similar to the one that attacked Senator Paul on Thursday night in DC) have victimized Portland for every night since … May 25. The questions are way beyond how and why it started, to how did it metastasize so quickly and more importantly: how will it ever come to an end?

Even publicly funded NPR got into the act reporting Portland Police leaders were “racist” every time they declare the night-after-night violence in the streets as a riot. Should we debate whether Oregon, which banned slavery, is really a racist state? Let’s see how else we can keep the debate going about charred buildings?

The fires are burning across the fruited plain including Kenosha, Wisconsin. If it can happen in Kenosha, where else can the riots and violence spread? Do you think Joe Biden needs Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in his column? Ask Hillary. Does nightly anarchy and violence help or hurt Joe Biden in the Dairy State or anywhere else for that matter?

Senator Paul is saying the Democrats own the violence, the very same anarchy playing itself out every night on television news and social media. Their answers are to reign in the police and defund their budgets. Does the Silent Majority agree?

Almost DailyBrett rarely makes ex-cathedra statements, but will do so now: It will be far easier to combat and end Covid-19 than it will be to extinguish the hate, fire and brimstone on our streets.

If Americans are treated to rising Covid-19 stats each night on broadcast or digital video, the advantage goes to Joe Biden.

If Americans continue to be shocked and horrified by images of unrestrained mob violence, anarchy, looting, rioting and “peaceful protests,” the Mother of All Wedge Issues benefits the re-election of Donald Trump.

“People will do what they do.“– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the violent attacks against American law enforcement, buildings, statues and symbols

Almost DailyBrett distinctly remembers the infamous 1968 report by AP’s Pulitzer Prize winning Vietnam War correspondent Peter Arnett, quoting an unnamed U.S. Army major stating: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

Some to this day contend the real quote is no less an oxymoron: “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” 

The first (e.g., village) is sexier and more quotable, particularly as the opposition to the unexplained endless Vietnam War was reaching its apex. Essentially, U.S. soldiers had to destroy the village and with it — the associated collateral damage (e.g., innocent women and children) — in order to save them from the Viet Cong.

Even though the parallels are not exact — and never will be when you compare orchestrated violence continents and cultures 50 years apart — every night without a break for more than two months and counting, anarchists/rioters have attempted to burn to the ground Portland Oregon’s federal buildings including the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse.

In order to achieve peace there must be true-and-pure racial justice as defined by those setting fires, breaking windows and looting. The courthouse has been spray painted, vandalized and burned. The ultimate culprits as identified in partisan media are not those engaged in malicious felony violence, but instead federal law enforcement risking their lives trying to save the courthouse and end weeks-upon-weeks of rioting.

And if the federal law enforcement officers withdrew, what would be the ultimate result?

Would the City of Roses be transformed from a City of Plywood to a City of Ashes? Would Portland become America’s Beirut?

What happens to those who work in these buildings? What about the already because of Covid-19 suffering small businesses, providing services to the denizens of these buildings? What message is sent to other cities? Will their courthouses and other public buildings go up in flames?

What a horrible precedent.

Always Control Your Surroundings

Based upon extensive experience in political PR management, Almost DailyBrett always recommends controlling the environment around a politician.

That means you have developed the right message for your target audience. You have planned out with your advance team the entrance procedures, the presentation platform (e.g., Reagan Blue backdrop) and the points of departure. Your author recommends ensuring your immediate audience is friendly or at least reasonable and open-minded to your points of view.

Most of all don’t wade into an angry mob, if the mob rules.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler decided to try to make friends with a “listening session” Thursday with the rioters, anarchists and protesters. They in-turn presented him a list of non-negotiable demands, which he could not accept (e.g., resign). Did his team know about these mandates in advance? Was the mayor apprised?

Wheeler was ordered by violent protesters to defund Portland’s Police Department and to resign. He opposes the first and obviously wants to continue doing his job. The result was booing, screaming, pushing, shoving, cursing, catcalling and to top it off, he was tear gassed to the delight of the … rioters.

Did the mayor and his team have an exit strategy for when the inevitable ugliness ensued? Were they forced to flee for their lives and limbs?

The mayor may have been well intentioned, but the road to anarchist hell is paved with good intentions.

The way to peace is for those, who want a tranquil city with rules and procedures leading to measured discussion, to be stronger than those who savor violence, intimidation and anarchy. Wheeler believes all he has to do is talk nicely to convince those who will never be satisfied.

How did that work out Mr. Mayor?

He wants federal law enforcement to simply leave Portland.

Beware of what you want mayor, you may get your wish.

“My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again.’” — Bari Weiss resignation letter as an opinion columnist for the New York Times

Almost DailyBrett must stop here and ask: Is anti-Semitism a fact of life and a demonstration of “moral clarity” in the New York Times newsroom? Where are the punishments for those who maliciously labeled a Jewish woman writer as a “Nazi?”

Isn’t it a little more than ironic that Weiss wrote the 2019 book: “How To Fight Anti-Semitism”?

Any appreciation or sensitivity of history? Nice workplace? Fair and accurate coverage?

“President Trump used the spotlight of the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the ‘new far-left fascism.'” — New York Times lead paragraph “objectively” covering President Trump’s Mt. Rushmore address

Remember sentence diagrams? Let’s identify the … verbs:

Trump used … to sow division … denying his failings… worsening corona virus pandemic … delivering a harsh diatribe … what he branded.

How many incendiary verbs can be unleashed in one sentence?

Was this lead written by the Democratic National Committee?

Was it a news lead or editorial page content disguised as news.

Who can tell the difference?

Apparently, objectivity is out the window at big masthead newsrooms, replaced by a quest for “Moral Clarity.”

Whose “morals?” Whose “clarity”? Who decides?

Is there a link between how the New York Times and other elite mastheads and networks cover stories and the repressive intolerant culture within newsrooms? Is the Pope, Jesuit?

What was once whispered behind closed doors is now wide open for the world to see. The pursuit for a narrow ideological audience translates into more revenues for the Times and others … even though it generates even more tribalism and division.

Is Twitter, The Ultimate Editor?

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.” — Weiss letter to A.G. Sulzberger, New York Times publisher

Who would ever think that a publicly traded Silicon Valley tech company would be the body and soul of a major “independent” Atlantic seaboard elite publication?

Almost DailyBrett recognizes elite media, universities, Hollywood and many other narrow special interests have earned their reputations for being liberal, but now they are becoming even more illiberal. Weiss is openly suggesting that all content must pass the social media litmus test, otherwise the feared online venom could quickly turn downright painful.

Has it become a new digital form of McCarthyism against anyone who departs from the orthodoxy? Is there no sense of decency, even in newsrooms?

Keep in mind that Weiss did not vote for Trump, she is anti-Trump … but she is not fanatically anti-Trump … and there is the rub.  She dared to question the 4,000th op-ed against POTUS #45. Is there anything else to write about?

“As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere.” — Bari Weiss

There was a day and a time when the Paper of Record in the United States set the agenda for what was discussed by Americans over morning coffee and what led on the evening newscasts.

Your author recognizes it took a ton of courage for Bari to both resign from the New York Times, and to write a thoughtful letter about what is obviously wrong with partisan Journalism today. Hopefully, there will be a place for her in the media profession tomorrow.

More importantly, can we get back to the point when a liberal media outlet is left of center in uttering its opinions, its reporting is straight and their is respect for everyone who works in the newsroom or the studio?

Bari Weiss, opinion editor with anti-Semitism focus, resigns from The New York Times

“When people speak of ending white privilege, most of them have good things in mind like inclusion and justice. But ideas are important, and the spread of campus terminology into newsrooms and boardrooms invites in ideologues. Their approach is already taking a toll. In universities research agendas are being warped. Outside them, public shaming and intimidation have been curbing debate.” — The Economist, “The New Ideology of Race and What’s Wrong With It,” July 9, 2020

“Our children must be educated, not indoctrinated.” — President Donald Trump

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” — President Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia

As a former university professor, your author is sad to say all three of the above quotes would be instantly labeled as racist hate speech on the overwhelming majority of America’s university and college campuses …. including Jefferson’s University of Virginia.

If you dare to repeat the premise of the Declaration of Independence that all lives matter, you are without any reasonable doubt, a “racist.” There must be “racists” seemingly around every corner in America. There are so many “racists,” the term is becoming downright, cliche.

Or is it — dare we say a new wave of fascists — are gathering around and taking a sledge hammer to statues and churches on campus and downtown? Can we ignore history? Can we rewrite history? Can we destroy history? Everyone is intimidated, no one will slap the perpetrators on the wrist or even lift a finger.

“People will do what they do.“– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on attacks against American statues (even animals) and symbols.

What about other, “people?” Are they all being forced to take The 5th out of fear of personal shaming and maybe even, retribution?

Can we have a rational discussion about the legacy of Thomas Jefferson? Can we meekly inquire: ‘Why set fire to a statue of an elk?’

Jefferson as everyone knows owned slaves in the 18th Century.  Almost DailyBrett must ask: “Wasn’t Jefferson the founder of today’s liberal/progressive Democratic Party? Wasn’t he one of our greatest presidents with his likeness adorning Mt. Rushmore with fellow giants: George Washington (owned slaves), Abraham Lincoln (abolished slavery) and Teddy Roosevelt?

Britain’s stately neo-liberal The Economist dared point out that shaming and intimidation tactics are being carried out on our campuses with the express intention of silencing any and all debate and dissent. Forget the First Amendment. Dismiss the Marketplace of Ideas.

You are either for us or you are a … racist.

” … the ideology takes a wrong turn by seeking to impose itself through intimidation and power. Not the power that comes from persuasion and elections, but from silencing your critics, insisting that those who are not with you are against you, and shutting out those who are deemed privileged or disloyal to their race.”

Can an intolerant one-party state be far behind? Doesn’t the planet have enough of these already? Is that outcome … the ultimate result?

Is Barack Obama’s Presidency Irrelevant?

Are the ideals for university and college campus Pharisees (e.g., Ivory Towers) the attaining of the higher moral ground, making sure that everyone knows about it, and most of all … suppressing all others who fail prescribed litmus tests or deviate from orthodoxy?

Sad to say, the majority of academics have never earned a real paycheck outside of a university or college campus (not counting waiting on tables or helping out at a doctor’s office). Most do not understand the acronym, P&L, let alone being able to read and follow the GAAP dictates of an income statement or a balance sheet.

“Buy Low Sell High?” What’s that?

Do we need more professors of practice on American campuses, those who actually worked in the professions they teach? Are we educating our students to attain positions and initiate careers or are we merely indoctrinating our students to spread the approved secular liturgy?

Instead of economic freedom, way-too-many faculty advocate … err … mandate socialist justice. They contend that Karl Marx’ USSR (1917-1991) had the correct philosophy, but Iron Curtain countries simply failed in its implementation. They pack the halls when linguist Noam Chomsky or the architects of the “1619 Project” come to campus.

Accomplished women including Christine Lagarde or Condoleezza Rice need not offer their world views on campus, regardless of their qualifications. Do we hear the word, misogyny as a result?

They champion excessive monarchies of Norway, Sweden and Denmark as happy socialist countries, allegedly they are far better than the United States of America. One must stop and ask: Did any of them elect, let alone re-elect a person of color — any other color than white — as their respective head of state?

Hint: they didn’t. The exceptional nation — the United States of America — cast aside racism and overwhelmingly chose Barack Obama in 2008, and once again in 2012 … just eight mere years ago.

Do we hear any discussion about the pivotal election of Barack Obama on today’s university and college campuses? Didn’t his presidency prove that Black Lives do indeed, Matter? Are all men created equal?

By writing this epistle, Almost DailyBrett runs the very real risk of being labeled as … a racist. It was bound to happen at some point because your author dares to resist.

The truth lies in the fact the majority of professors are Baby Boomers. They started detesting their own country during the Vietnam War. They read Marx and commenced their life-long love affair while researching and studying for their Ph.Ds or in some cases, terminal master’s degrees.

Many refer to the USA as “this” country and seize upon all issues that denigrate our imperfect nation, which makes 1st Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech on university and college campuses possible for them … but not for others.

The customers of this exercise (e.g., the students) are seen as fresh impressionable minds not to educate, but to indoctrinate.

They too may learn to loathe the USA, impose their narrow values and ideology on others, and exercise intolerance for all other thoughts and expressions today, tomorrow, forever.

How can a governor roll out the red carpet for the Queen of England, when it’s barely held together with tacky silver electrical tape?

One of the biggest disappointments in the four-decade career of Almost DailyBrett was seeing the Office of the Governor in Sacramento for the first time.

Would it be an exaggeration to describe the office in January 1983 as a “hell hole?” Yes, but not as much as one would think.

The red carpeting was held together with silver electrical tape. The paint was chipping off the walls. The casters were falling off the chairs. The office was a great before picture for “Sunset Magazine.”

The chief of staff’s office emitted a fresh sickening sweet aroma, the type of smell that is frequently found in parking garage stairwells.

The physical space of the Office of Governor had been neglected since 1967, the year Governor Ronald Reagan first put his hand on the Bible.

The California that my boss Governor George Deukmejian inherited 16 years later was $1.5 billion in the red, its Triple A bond rating was gone, and the Golden State was threatened with the prospect of paying its bills with IOUs.

Almost seems quaint compared to today’s record California budget deficit of $54 billion.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

And yet Queen Elizabeth II and her hubbie Prince Philip were coming to Sacramento, including a visit to the aforementioned hell-hole Office of the Governor on Saturday, March 5, 1983.

Could flat-broke California quickly renovate the office, when it couldn’t even pay its bills?

Our immediate predecessor, “Era of Limits” Jerry Brown (first eight years as California governor), patched up the fraying and decaying red carpeting with silver electrical tape. Did we want to show off the embarrassment of the Office of the Governor of the largest state in the union to Queen Elizabeth in that condition?

Democrat state Senator Alfred E. Alquist (1908-2006) proposed an immediate solution, a massive $2 billion tax increase, right in the middle of a deep recession. Governor Deukmejian promised during the 1982 campaign not to raise taxes. Alquist had a plan for the governor to immediately break his pledge, divide the Republican Party and therefore ensure his tenure as a one-term California chief executive.

Philosophically, we did not believe in the public sector taking billions more from taxpayers, when most families were desperately trying to make ends meet.

Sutter’s Fort To The Rescue

Somehow, someway, we spruced up the office. It wasn’t glamorous, more cosmetic. The carpets were replaced. The walls were painted. There were 1849 Gold Rush era period pieces sprinkled throughout the office courtesy of Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. Heck, there was even standard Home Depot-style blue tile in the governor’s corner office loo. George Deukmejian — who later was labeled “The Iron Duke” — was accused of being a spendthrift.

The queen’s California Dreamin’ itinerary included stops in San Diego, Palm Springs, LA, Yosemite, San Francisco and then Sacramento. Shortly before her trip to Sacramento, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip held a 31st wedding anniversary dinner for President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan aboard the HMY Britannia moored in San Francisco.

Almost DailyBrett distinctly remembers being asked by San Francisco Chronicle capitol reporter Rob Gunnison, whether George Deukmejian would have to transfer his authority to then Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy because the Britannia was a foreign flag “The Union Jack” vessel? An arcane law promulgated during the 19th Century days of the telegraph requires the Governor to cede powers to the Light Governor, whenever he or she leaves the state.

Was The Duke really departing California?

Your author’s first instinct was the question was preposterous. His second was only a lawyer would know for sure. Vance Raye was our Legal Affairs Secretary. Remember seeing him roll his eyes upon hearing the media question. After hours-upon-hours of research, Vance concluded that since the “Britannia” was floating in California waters, well within the three-mile state limit, therefore George Deukmejian remained present in the Golden State.

If someone wished to sue, then someone could very well sue. The law books were essentially silent when it came to governors, foreign-flag yachts, presidents, monarchs and California waters. We were more than confident, we would prevail — if necessary — in court. By then, it would be a moot point.

The story ultimately led to a happy ending. The queen enjoyed a smashingly brilliant visit to California. The Office of the Governor was presentable. There were zero lawsuits.

And best of all, Governor Deukmejian vetoed $1 billion out of the state budget and allowed the economic resurgence to do the rest.

The governor did not raise taxes, California’s budget was balanced with a $1 billion prudent reserve for emergencies, the state’s Triple A bond rating was restored, and George Deukmejian was re-elected in the blue state’s greatest landslide (61 percent to 37 percent) in 1986.

Those were the days my friend; Almost DailyBrett wishes they never ended.

“First of all, a campaign is a marathon, you know that. I don’t think he (Biden) was up for a marathon. I think he would have been worn down already in the campaign by this time if he had to be out there everyday.

“Plus, let’s be honest: He’s a bit of a gaffe machine. He’d be saying all sorts of different things.” — Liberal Political Pundit Bill Maher

Can Joe Biden take “The 5th” the clear way to the presidency?

Does he benefit that his name is not Donald Trump?

Can he simply follow Napoleon’s axiom: “Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself”?

This is the year in which Covid giveth and Covid taketh.

The infectious disease has greatly reduced Joe Biden contacts with the media and the voters. And with the reduction of these contacts, the potential for embarrassing gaffes goes down as well.

Almost DailyBrett has adhered to two political truisms during his career: The first is you can’t beat someone with no one.

The second is the race for the Presidency is a choice, not a referendum. It always has been, it always will be.

The two truisms are complementary. For example, the 1980 challenger (e.g., Ronald Reagan) stepped up on the debate stage and said, “There you go again” to unpopular incumbent Jimmy Carter.

After the debate, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote: Carter had “accomplished almost every objective except the most important one: The destruction of Reagan’s credibility as a President.”

Some chief executives adopted Rose Garden strategies with no debates, attempting to ignore the challenger and run out the clock. Richard Nixon won the 1972  battle against George McGovern, but ultimately lost the war with Watergate two years later.

What happens when the challenger adopts a Del-a-Where Bunker Strategy (DBS)? Can Joe Biden go underground for four months, leaving all the warm-and-fuzzy partisan activist media to unleash their 24-7-365 fury on Donald Trump?

The basement strategy may sound tempting to Biden’s always nervous handlers, but he still has to emerge from his subterranean refuge to announce his choice for a vice president, a bleeding heartbeat away from the presidency. He also must deliver his Democratic Convention acceptance speech behind the safety of the warm-and-fuzzy teleprompter.

And he has to debate Donald Trump at least three times.

The first two can be carefully calibrated and controlled. The debates bring the greatest risk, turning a preferred referendum into a contentious choice with equal amounts of public attention on both the incumbent and the challenger.

Playing The Expectations Game

 “I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” — White dude Biden to black radio show host Charlamagne Tha God

“To have that mindset, you must have the attitude that we, Black Americans, we own you. We can take you for granted. … That to me shows you that Black Americans are an appendage of a party. That’s the biggest turnoff I’ve heard from a politician in a long time.” — Black Entertainment Television (BET) Founder Robert Johnson

As the debates approach and expectations need to be managed the question becomes: How far can Democratic operatives talk down Joe Biden’s debating prospects without denigrating the former vice president?

And … How far can Democratic operatives talk up Donald Trump’s extensive stage presence and television experience (e.g., “The Apprentice”) without praising the president?

Do they acknowledge as Bill Maher said that Joe Biden is “a bit of a gaffe machine”? Okay, maybe more than “a bit.”

Even though Biden is sitting on a double-digit lead nationally and mostly within-the-margin of error (MOE) edges in battleground states (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania), his support is predicated more on not being Donald Trump than on being Joe Biden.

Trump supporters by a 2/1 margin are more enthusiastic about the president. Biden backers are the mirror opposite; they are not enthusiastic about their guy, but detest and loathe (being kind here) Trump.

And there lies the temptation for the Biden team to glide toward the presidency, limiting appearance and interviews.

You can’t utter a gaffe if you don’t say anything.

Didn’t President Hillary Clinton adopt a similar strategy?

Who did she run against?

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Can public trust in the Journalism “profession” plummet any further?

Have the inmates finally taken over the elite asylums?

Is it finally time — actually past time — for professional accreditation of journalists, and to require compliance with a defined set of media standards for fairness, balance and objectivity?

Physicians must secure their doctorates in medicine, plus four years of residency. Lawyers are confronted with the Bar Exam upon the completion of law school. Accounting majors are faced with the CPA exam. Virtually anyone who wants to succeed in business needs to earn an MBA, preferably from a top school (i.e., USC, Oregon, Harvard, Wharton … ).

What then are present-day standards and best practices for objectivity, accuracy and fairness for future Journalists?

Some will point to a curricula of university-taught devotion to activism, and intolerance to any-and-all dissenting views? That’s what most in university ivory tower J-schools may think, but they are wrong. They have been off-base for decades.

What about credentials? Ever wonder why reporters, editors, correspondents are less respected more than ever by the American public? To suggest that journalists rank in the same league with used-car salesmen actually besmirches the good name of … used car salesmen.

The obvious answer lies with the question of professionalism or more to the point, the glaring lack of media professionalism. Who needs ethos or logos, when your reporting is your personal pathos? You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

The question of media accreditation — not talking about the mere issuance of credentials — is a perennial topic. Even mentioning the subject is the equivalent of a crucifix to a vampire for kicking-and-screaming reporters, editors, anchors and correspondents.

How much lower can public opinion of Journalism plummet when it comes to trust … or more to the point … lack of trust in the media? The profession’s approval rating is lower than … (gasp) the reviled, Donald Trump.

The Devil In The Details

Some may blame all of the media’s plunging public esteem all on Trump, the one-and-the-same who labeled journalists as “Enemies of the People.”

Some may say, he went too far with his comments and instinctively worry about chilling effects on the First Amendment. Trump can read public opinion surveys as well as anyone else and can easily conclude … the public is clearly dissatisfied with the media. They are an easy target, and attacking them obviously fires up his base of Independents and Republicans.

Heck, only one-third of Democrats trust most of the digital and/or conventional content they see from the media according to a Knight Foundation survey.  Independents, 13 percent. Republicans? Only three percent.

Maybe more telling is that one-quarter of all independents do not trust any of the content emanating from today’s media, actually higher than the 21 percent of Republicans who have zero trust in media reports.

The media is failing big time when it comes to trust. The numbers tell an undeniable quantitative story.

Truth be known, the slide in public esteem and trust began shortly after the glorified days of Woodward & Bernstein in the mid-1970s, and accelerated since then the race to the bottom. The arrival of digital media and the corresponding decline of print journalism only changed the business models, but not the down-to-the-right trajectory for the “profession.”

How does Journalism restore public trust in the news and information it provides?

Isn’t the Fourth Estate supposed to be the watchdogs of our Democracy? Who watches the watchdogs?

If there are going to be media accreditation, similar to public relations practitioners by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), who can objectively — there goes that word again — assume this task?

If the proverbial media fox is guarding the Journalism hen house — sets the standards for accreditation and best practices — how can the public trust the results let alone believe again in those who are supposed to provide with fair-and-balanced news and information?

The devil is in the details, but Almost DailyBrett believes that independent members need to be part of the process, similar to Boards of Directors for publicly traded companies.

There are some in the “profession” who will say the First Amendment “as we know it” will be threatened, if they are compelled to be tolerant, fair, balanced and objective to all points of view, not just the ones that advocate for redistribution Socialist Justice.

Almost DailyBrett is confident the First Amendment will live on, if journalists are accredited and conform to best practices of fairness, balance and objectivity.

The mission should be restoration of public trust in the media — and with it — the resurrection of the troubled profession.

There is a way. The question remains: Is there a ‘will.’

Indicators of news media trust

As a relatively new press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian in 1987, your author was more than a little surprised to learn that Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was paying an unscheduled visit to his colleague and my boss, “The Iron Duke.”

Dukakis was standing before the governor’s office door in the cabinet room in the State Capitol in Sacramento. He was cordial and polite, and apologized for the unexpected visit. The 1980s were a different time, more to the point a better era.

The political media was tailing along with Governor Dukakis that particular Wednesday, May 20 as he was running for the 1988 Democratic nomination for president. Dukakis was certainly not looking for encouragement as George Deukmejian was a Reagan-Bush Republican. And yet, George Deukmejian made time for his National Governor’s Association colleague and friend, Michael Dukakis.

My boss was never enamored about “surprises,” but he gladly welcomed Dukakis. The two demonstrated to America then and now that civility can reign, even if he political differences run deep.

Years later, George Deukmejian and his wife, Gloria, were sitting on the beach in Hana, Maui about to enjoy a picnic lunch, when a voice cried out … “Duke!” It was the other Duke, Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty. One can only imagine they had some great stories to tell that afternoon and got along swimmingly.

As we celebrate what would have been George Deukmejian’s 92nd. birthday tomorrow on D-Day (June 6), we need to contemplate that America in general and California in particular were very different places when the Duke was governor from 1983-1991.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to champion that Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018) is the most popular chief executive in blue state California’s modern political history by more than a two-to-one margin (66 percent approval, 30 percent disapproval)

Better than The Gipper. Better than Jerry. Better than AH-Nold.

Loss of Civility

George Deukmejian privately lamented the loss of civility, even in tamer times … night-and-day different times.

He remembered his policy debates on the floor of the California State Senate as the Republican minority leader against George Moscone, the Democratic majority leader. And when the rhetorical exchange ended, the two Georges could be seen having a glass of wine. Seems quaint now. Actually it sounds better.

George Deukmejian was not one for rhetorical questions. Subsequently, his press secretary avoided them like the plague. And yet when Almost DailyBrett posed a rhetorical question on the 1982 campaign trail — ‘how many terms did he envision as governor?’ — He immediately responded,”two terms.” Even though California did not have term limits at the time, Deukmejian knew then and there … there would be no third term.

His reasoning. Like any governor, you want the people of California to ratify your administration and policy direction through re-election (e.g., 61-37 percent). If a governor runs for a third term, there is the problem of the tyranny of accumulated decisions and with each one the number of disappointed people inevitably grows.

Only one California Governor was elected a third term, Earl Warren (later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court). One other pursued a third term (e.g., Pat Brown) and he lost to a certain movie actor.

What was his name?

As Almost DailyBrett looks over the 2020 political minefield, there is no chivalry. George Patton and Erwin Rommel will not come down from their tanks, shake hands, and then engage in battle with the victor winning the war.

There is zero civility similar to Deukmejian-Dukakis, Deukmejian-Moscone and the more celebrated relationship between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.

Today the President of the United States refuses to shake the hand of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and she responds by tearing up his State of the Union speech. Their collective hatred went downhill from there.

Your author certainly will not scold anyone for thinking that today’s divisions and tribal hatreds are now a permanent fixture of our troubled society. After all, politics is indeed a contact sport.

There was a lot of heat in political kitchens (paraphrasing the famous Harry S. Truman quote) even in the 1980s, but there were also times of consideration, politeness, cordiality and celebrated instances when civility indeed did reign across the fruited plain.

Happy Birthday Iron Duke. We miss you. We will always love you.

Some day this author will hopefully join you for a glass of wine in heaven, and ponder the lessons of the 1980s.


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