Tag Archive: Frank Fat’s

Who do reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits respect the most?

The answer: Fellow reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits.

And seemingly all of them are thinking alike.


Especially during my tenure as a gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett was often flabbergasted by the theories developed out of thin air by the media about why A. occurred or why B. happened.

Keep in mind we are talking about the late 1980s, long before ubiquitous mobile devices and 140-character Twitter president-elect proclamations.

In Sacramento, many of these postulations and theories were developed at Frank Fat’s or some other watering hole. Seemingly, the more drinks consumed the closer the media bonded, and a consensus was eventually reached about a budding theory.

The reason this dubious habit is important, is that press secretaries need to be aware of what the media are saying to themselves, and what conclusions they are collectively making. There is better than a 50/50 chance these theories will be brought to your governor’s attention for a response in a news conference or media briefing.

Fast forward to the present day and the insular habit has not changed, but the way these theories and postulations are transmitted among the media has shifted radically … namely Twitter.

Yes, Donald Trump is not the only one using/misusing social media Twitter for 140-character-or-less pontifications and bloviations.

“If Everyone is Thinking Alike, Then Someone Isn’t Thinking.” – General George S. Patton

Gotta love General George.

The conventional thinking to date was that President Harry Truman’s come-from-behind victory over New York Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948 was the greatest upset in presidential campaign history.

Scratch that thought. Last month’s victory by Donald Trump over prohibitive favorite Hillary Clinton shocked the nation, and particularly confounded the-everyone-is-thinking-alike elite media/punditocracy.

Considering that most of them habitat a skinny island east of the Hudson River or are confined within the Beltway, it is easy to understand how prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom becomes exactly that: prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom.

As Otto von Bismarck was famously quoted, those who appreciate sausage and the law should see neither of them made. Maybe the same is true for how the elite media/punditocracy reaches consensus of their version of reality.

First: the political class virtually ignores digital democratization. For example, the second (town hall) debate between The Donald and Hillary drew a record 17 million tweets and 92.4 million Facebook likes, posts, comments and shares.

during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Conceivably, the elite media had access to a treasure trove of digital input from the public. True not all of it is accurate and relevant, but turning it all aside is a manifestation of arrogance. In their defense, the elite media may ask: ‘Where do you start?’ Almost DailyBrett opines the media should not ignore the anxiety of John and Mary Q. Citizen from Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania. Angst Matters.

Second: The elite media/punditocracy engages in restricted collusion. Instead of using digital media to access outside sources, they instead employ Twitter and networked laptops and mobile devices to talk exclusively to each other. The most egregious case is when news aggregator Buzz Feed announced the winner of the first 2012 Obama vs. Romney debate, 45 minutes before the closing statements.

And once the debate was over, the media pile-on session ensued to the detriment of President Barack Obama.

Third: The digital democratization crowd contends that more public input via social, mobile and cloud will result in a continuous weakening of Agenda Setting Theory or the notion that elite media (i.e., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC …) not only frame the national agenda, but they actually provide intellectual guidance to a grateful nation.

As it turns out, the opposite was true. Media collusion via digital media actually strengthened, not weakened Agenda Setting Theory.

Fourth: And probably the most important point of all, the Real Clear Politics Right Track/Wrong Track barometer has been consistently below the Mendoza Line. You do not run a “Morning in America” stay-the-course campaign when 32.1 percent believe the country is on the right track and conversely 55.7 percent contend the country is on the wrong track.

Did the elite media really pay attention to the Right Track/Wrong Track barometer? Did they ask the real folks across the fruited plain why they are so disappointed, frustrated and downright angry? Did they question why Hillary Clinton ran a status-quo campaign in a change year?


This is not the first time the author of Almost DailyBrett picked a fight with those who buy ink-by-the-barrel. Let’s face it, the elite media/punditocracy needed to open up their collective ears and listen to the chorus from the hinterland. Instead they mounted their ivory towers and proclaimed that Hillary was the candidate with all of the experience, all of the endorsements, most of the money, and the GOTV operation to win the presidency in a cakewalk.

Upon quiet reflection in the aftermath, these elite reporters and prominent pundits may want to drop the arrogance for a nanosecond or two, and consider the reason why each of them was given two ears and only one mouth.






“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” — Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

“It is far easier to beg for forgiveness, than to ask for permission” – Too Many Authors to Count

“Puck em, if they can’t take a joke.” – The Reciprocal to the Above Assertion

After another year enduring a litany of university rules, regulations, statutes, limitations, procedures, restrictions etc. – enough to slow any progress down to molasses – Almost DailyBrett finds it peculiarly refreshing to contemplate how the California State Legislature railroaded through a sweeping civil liability law in 1987 – “The Napkin Deal” — on the morning after the legally mandated last night of session.cocktailnapkin

If a legislative body wants to pull out the plug on the clock on the wall at 11:59 pm on Thursday, September 10 to ensure that every minute thereafter remains … Thursday, September 10, the absolute last day of session … so be it.

Yes, the California Legislature could miraculously make time stop.

For the rest of the world, it was already Friday.

If a legislative body wants to suspend all of its rules, including an orderly committee process, and convene a “committee on the whole” hours after the clock struck midnight on the last day of session … que sera sera.

If a legislative body wants to act upon the design for a comprehensive civil liability agreement – benefitting powerful insurance, medical, manufacturing and of course, trial lawyer special interest lobbies – which is eternally enshrined on a watering hole cloth napkin – that’s how the pot sticker rolls.

As a wise scribe once told a green-behind-the-ears cub reporter, covering the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1978: “A legislative body can do whatever it damn well pleases.”

That very same cub reporter later moved to Sacramento and listened late into the night on the squawk box in the Office of the Governor as the clock plug was being pulled out of the wall socket in the Assembly chamber. This action could mean one thing, and one thing only: The state legislative leadership was “recessing” to Frank Fat’s.

Frank Fat’s Cloth Napkin

Conceivably every state capital has a watering hole right down the street (not sure about Salt Lake City). And for California’s capital, Sacramento, it’s “Fat’s,” a Chinese restaurant that also serves yummy strip steaks.frankfats

It was here on a hot Central Valley night that Speaker Willie Brown, State Senator Bill Lockyer and others cemented a five-year, civil-liability peace agreement between the cobras and the mongooses (i.e., lawyers, docs, manufacturers and insurers). These mortal enemies were not about to become friends, but at least they were not going to cannibalize each other for a few years.

The trick was to steamroll the later-to-be-written in all of its legal niceties legislative language, which was outlined on the Frank Fat’s cloth napkin, through both houses of the Legislature, and send the resulting bill to my boss, Governor George Deukmejian.

Over the strenuous and legitimate objections of legislators speaking on behalf of consumer groups, asking for delays and hearings, Willie Brown invoked the Rule of 41. Simply translated, if 41 or more state Assembly members (California’s “green” lower house) are ready or compelled to vote “aye” for the provisions on a watering hole napkin … well … a legislative body can do whatever it damn well pleases.

Sue them if you wish.

The watering hole napkin … err legislation .. was now shipped to the upper “pink” house, the state Senate, for the suspension of all rules, convening of a committee as a whole, consumer lobbyists screaming, and the invoking of the Rule of 21 (or more out of 40 senators).

The bill was now being sent in the direction of Governor Deukmejian, who himself served for 16 years in the Legislature (Assembly four years) and (Senate 12 years). He instinctively knew the extraordinary measures that were required to hammer out this kind of deal and get it through both houses of the Legislature (easier said than done).

As was our practice, we held a news conference the morning after the official (and unofficial) close of session to discuss what the Legislature had done, and maybe (or maybe not) to give hints about expected bill signings and of course, vetoes by the “Iron Duke.”

Outraged reporters wanted to know if the governor was offended by the way the Legislature had suspended rules in both houses and rammed through a grand compromise that existed primarily in the form of a watering hole cloth napkin.sausagelaw

With an eye on the constitutionally prescribed separation of powers between the executive branch (e.g., Office of the Governor, state agencies and departments) and the legislative branch (e.g., state Assembly and state Senate), the governor stated his responsibility was to deliberate only on the language that reached his desk.

What did Bismarck say about “sausage” and the “law”?

Sometimes you have to break at least some, if not all the rules, if you want to get anything done.





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