Tag Archive: George Deukmejian


“Nancy Pelosi needs to come back from Hawaii. Less hula, more moola for the Department (of Homeland Security) and Customs and Border Patrol, funding our border security.”  — Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway

The optics were awful.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed to Hawaii for resort time at the $1,000-to-$5,000 per night Fairmont Orchid, while the U.S. government was partially shut down.

In contrast, President Trump cancelled his Xmas and New Year’s planned vacation time at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

The story was covered by Fox News and the New York Post among others. For some reason, the New York Times, Washington Post and the big networks did not report Nancy’s between Xmas and New Year Kona spa days on the Big Island.

Reminds Almost DailyBrett of the adage: If Nancy swam in the Pacific and the New York Times passed on the story, did she still get wet?

Despite the fact her ideologically aligned media gave her a Mulligan, was it smart public relations/politics for the honorable speaker to depart for “Spa Without Walls” Hawaii with the rival president managing les affaires d’état from the Oval Office?

The Time-and-Place Rule

Every president is roundly criticized for playing golf (e.g., Trump), shooting baskets (e.g., Obama) or bike riding (George W. Bush). The implication is that presidents should have zero hobbies or interest in staying fit, while also blowing off some steam.

As a former press secretary, your author would gladly confirm my chief executive is indeed playing golf, shooting baskets bike riding etc., and would question the political motivation of those who had a problem with these healthy recreational activities.

Having said that, Almost DailyBrett contends presidents and congressional leaders need to practice The Time-and-Place Rule. The rhetorical questions: Is this the time? Is this the place?

For example, first-time-around California Governor Jerry Brown, who opposed Proposition 13, immediately befriended Howard Jarvis and became a born-again tax cutter. He remained in toasty Sacramento that summer, and directed the state in subvening $4 billion to the state’s 58 counties.

His Republican opponent Attorney General Evelle Younger immediately left for Hawaii. The contrast could not have been greater. Brown working to implement Proposition 13. Younger basking in the islands. The predictable Jerry Brown negative campaign ads featured … you guessed it … Evelle Younger and hula music.

Younger never recovered from violating the Time-and-Place Rule, losing by more than 1 million votes in the fall 1978 general election.

“There Will Be No Hula Music”

Fast forwarding four years later, my boss then-Attorney General George Deukmejian had just won a hard-fought GOP primary for Governor of California.

When a reporter posed a seemingly benign question about his vacation plans, the Duke’s political instinct went into overdrive. “There will be no hula music.”

Translated, he was going to take a welcome vacation in California with his family. Hawaiian music would not played in his opponent’s radio and television ads.

George Deukmejian paid homage to the Time-and-Place rule and went on to win in November.

Did Nancy Pelosi violate the Time-and-Place rule? Yes.

Does it matter to her liberal media sycophants? No.

Does it undermine her faux concern for the 800,000 federal employees, who are not being paid? Yes.

Very few of them have the resources to listen to hula music real time, and enjoy the trappings of a $5,000 per night Hawaiian resort.

They would just like to have grocery money, let alone enough to indulge in a “Spa Without Walls.”

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/22833/Nancy-Pelosi-Vacations-at-Fairmont-Orchid-During-Government-Shutdown.aspx

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/nancy-pelosi-is-vacationing-at-hawaii-resort-during-shutdown

https://nypost.com/2018/12/30/kellyanne-conway-mocks-nancy-pelosi-over-hawaii-vacation-amid-shutdown/

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/im-not-allowed-to-talk-about-that-nancy-pelosi-office-wont-comment-on-her-shutdown-vacation-in-hawaii

 

 

 

Wednesday is the National Day of Mourning in America for President George H.W. Bush.

Tomorrow will be the day we celebrate the life of an exemplary American, who maintained and enhanced a sense of dignity to the greatest executive office on the globe: The Presidency.

It will also be a time to reflect on a time when it was truly “Morning in America” as exemplified by the most admired positive political advertisement that ever crossed the nation’s broadcast airwaves.

As Time Magazine reflected on the 1984, 60-second Reagan-Bush ad, Morning in America, the spot was “simple, patriotic and inspirational.”

For Almost DailyBrett, the passing of President Bush – 14 years after the loss of one of our best presidents, Ronald Reagan – officially brings to a close the greatest decade in American history, The 1980s.

Your author as many of the readers of this blog already know was serving as the campaign press director and later press secretary for another former California Governor George Deukmejian, when President Reagan and Vice President Bush were transforming America.

It was indeed: Morning in America.

Even though this level of praise may be seem to be overgenerous to some, your author fondly remembers the Reagan-Bush years (1980-1993) as a simply wonderful time to be an American.

Were the 1980s, perfect? That toughest of all standards is unachievable for any decade. Having acknowledged the obvious, when was the last time that America elected, re-elected and then elected again a president-vice presidential team as it did when Bush became president in 1988?

The answer was four decades before when Harry S. Truman followed another renowned president, FDR.

An integral building block of Ronald Reagan’s legacy is the undeniable fact that Americans overwhelmingly elected George H.W. Bush as his successor, continuing the successful path set by his administration. The greatest peactime economic expansion in American history ensued under Reagan’s watch with the creation of 19 million new jobs.

Some pundits predicted with certainty during the desultory 1970s that America would never again elect a two-term president, let alone three terms of the same party, the same philosophical-political direction.

Whatever happened to these Brady Bunch rocket scientists?

Among the many achievements of Bush’s presidency, today’s pundits are pointing to his discipline to literally not dance on the collapsed Berlin Wall in 1989. That heavily criticized decision played a huge role in the Cold War ending without a shot being fired two years later.

Can We Say Today: “It’s Morning Again In America … “?

“It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history.” – Reagan-Bush 1984 television campaign spot

“In today’s fractured media universe, it is unlikely that a single paid TV spot (Morning in America) will again approach that kind of influence.” – Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss

As we approach the upcoming and expected vicious 2020 presidential cycle, can any campaign credibly champion the notion of a happy dawn across America’s fruited plain? “Make America Great Again” with its implied criticism is catchy, but it is not the universally positive, “Morning in America.”

Even more to the point, will the most remembered campaign ads in the two years actually be positive in nature? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.” Expect reptilian spots to dominate the airwaves/social media until they mercifully come to an end on November 3, 2020.

In the meantime, it is “Mourning in America.”

It is also a great time to reflect on a much better era — The 1980s — when it was truly “Morning in America.”

“It’s morning again in America

Today, more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history

With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980

Nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes

More than at any time in the past four years

This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married

And with inflation at less than half what it was just four years ago

They can look forward with confidence to the future

It’s morning again in America

And under the leadership of President Reagan

Our country is prouder, and stronger, and better

Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/business/the-ad-that-helped-reagan-sell-good-times-to-an-uncertain-nation.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1842516_1842514_1842575,00.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/back-to-the-1980s/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

 

“As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection.” – Sarah Huckabee Sanders

As a former press secretary – albeit one who served a mere state (e.g., California) – your author only once had concern about personal safety (e.g., anti-South Africa demonstrators at UC Berkeley).

As a message formulator/chief spokesman for a Republican governor, there were many in Sacramento (e.g., Maxine Waters) who did not care for the politics of my boss (Governor George Deukmejian).

Nevertheless, the author of Almost DailyBrett never worried about going to a California capital restaurant with family.

Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can’t say the same, and that is a vivid commentary on our sad state of affairs, very sad.

Sanders was viciously attacked for her physical appearance and gender at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. She was asked to leave the Red Hat restaurant in Lexington, Va., because she speaks for the president and holds a related political philosophy.

Some chastise Sanders for serving the United States. She is the last in a long line of presidential press secretaries, originating with Amos Kendall (worked for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren) starting in 1829.

Each and every press secretary since (Kendall, slavery) has been embroiled in contentious issues of the day and adversarial relationships with the Fourth Estate. Having said that, none before Sanders needed Secret Service protection for her, her spouse and three young children.

There is no doubt the stakes are high and the vitriol is out of control (see CNN’s Jim Acosta storming out of the White House briefing center), but is the rhetoric worse than the fight over slavery?

Don’t think so.

Some may remember Reagan presidential press secretary Jim Brady being in the line of fire during John Hinckley’s assassination attempt against the president in 1981. Neither Brady nor his successors Larry Speakes and Marlin Fitzwater needed Secret Service protection.

Can’t Sarah Huckabee Sanders be free to joust with the media without any threat to her personal safety?

Praise From An Unlikely Source

“Would it be better if that (Red Hat incident) didn’t happen? I think it would.” — Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton knows something about the job of press secretary.

Speaking to Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah, Clinton said he has “a lot of respect” for how Sanders deported herself in the wake of her and family being shown the door for purely political reasons by a restaurant owner.

There are some, including the aforementioned Maxine Waters, who urge activists to get into the face of public officials harboring different political philosophies and Weltanschauung.

Is the net effect of smash-mouth, in-your-face confrontation in public places against Sanders and others, unprecedented in American history? Maybe in modern times. At least we don’t have a latter-day Aaron Burr challenging Alexander Hamilton to a duel.

At least not yet.

Sanders last tweeted words about her banishment from the suburban restaurant should be required reading for all:

I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Sanders appears to have her heart in the right place, and yet she is the first press secretary to require round-the-clock Secret Service protection.

Does the fact she needs Secret Service officers at her side, and that includes her family, speak to Sarah Huckabee Sanders or does it represent something fundamentally wrong with our violent society (e.g., Rep. Steve Scalise shooting)?

Maybe we can embrace the notion of treating people respectfully, regardless of how they come down on the great philosophical divide.

http://fortune.com/2018/06/26/secret-service-sarah-sanders/

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/26/sarah-huckabee-sanders-get-secret-service-protecti/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/business/media/sarah-huckabee-sanders-jim-acosta.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/sympathy-for-sarah-huckabee-sanders/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/02/sarah-sanders-blasts-trump-hating-media-and-exposes-their-blatant-bias.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/bill-clinton-defends-sarah-huckabee-sanders-i-have-a-lot-of-respect-for-her

http://faculty.buffalostate.edu/smithrd/pr/pioneers.htm

 

 

Breakfast and Bay Area newspapers were served at a coffee shop, located directly across the street from the Cow Hollow motel at Steiner and Lombard.

Even though Friday, September 24, 1982 pre-dated mobile devices, there were no Thursday afternoon/evening phone calls from our campaign headquarters or even more germane, our political consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Copies of the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and most of all, the San Francisco Examiner were passed around over pancakes, syrup and black coffee. Next up was a morning editorial board meeting with the latter newspaper.

My boss was then-Attorney General/later-California Governor George Deukmejian.

After greeting editorial board members/reporters of the San Francisco Examiner, George Deukmejian was asked, if he saw the Los Angeles Times that morning.

Your Almost DailyBrett author, who was serving as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee, instantly experienced a pang of dread.

As the editorial board waited, George Deukmejian read the Los Angeles Times story. One thing was always certain: The Duke did not like surprises.

The Los Angeles Times story written by veteran political reporter Richard Bergholz reported on outrageous comments made by our gubernatorial campaign manager Bill Roberts.

Roberts predicted to Bergholz that our final election day results would be 5 percent better than what was being forecasted in the public opinion polls.

Roberts concluded that 5 percent of respondents would not admit their inner prejudice/bias to a pollster, and simply would not vote for our rival, a black candidate on election day.

The African-American candidate in question was our opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. As a result of the coverage by the Los Angeles Times of Roberts’ on-the-record comments, the much-discussed/debated for nearly four decades, “Bradley Effect,” was born.

And George Deukmejian was blindsided.

.Photo by Steve McCrank / Staff Photographer

Why didn’t Roberts call the attorney general on Thursday? Most likely, he knew the result of his free lancing. For some reason, he believed it was better for George Deukmejian not to know and to find out later (in the presence of editors/reporters).

The question that still comes back to me:  Why did Bill Roberts make this assertion? There is absolutely no way that George Deukmejian would agree with this conclusion, let alone authorize Roberts to say it on-the-record, on-background or off the record. We were running an effective, well-organized campaign.

In the presence of the San Francisco Examiner editors/reporters and throughout the next few days, George Deukmejian rejected the premise of “The Bradley Effect” about the under-the-surface 5 percent racial bias.

Leaving the Examiner offices, my boss turned to me and said: “Bill Roberts is now an issue in this campaign.” Roberts and his political consulting firm were fired that day.

The immediate reaction from the pundits/media elite was our campaign was dead. Obviously, this projection was not the first time the political class has been wrong, forecasting an election.

George Deukmejian was elected governor six weeks later 49-48 percent, a margin of 93,345 votes.

Bradley Effect/Reverse Bradley Effect

Typing “Bradley Effect” into the Google search engine results in 88.9 million impressions in 0.32 of a second. The “Bradley Effect” is eternal.

The term also raises the blood temperature of the author of Almost DailyBrett in less than two nanoseconds, even though the Bradley Effect Blindside occurred 36 years ago.

There have been recent applications of the Bradley Effect, questioning whether there would be an under vote against Barack Obama in 2008 because of his skin hue. He was twice elected the 44th President of the United States.

And just two years ago, the elite political class introduced the “Reverse Bradley Effect” to characterize voters who refuse out of embarrassment to admit to pollsters they were voting for Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

As your author writes this Almost DailyBrett epistle, I am mindful and grateful that Bill Roberts and others in his consulting firm supported hiring me as a very green press director back in early 1982. Roberts passed away in 1988.

Having acknowledged my gratitude, your author knows that our 1982 victory and landslide re-election (61-37 percent) four years later against the same Tom Bradley are tarnished in some eyes because of the so-called “Bradley Effect.”

Yours truly to this date is proud of the campaign we ran in 1982, and better yet how we governed California for eight years (1983-1991).

Two Million Absentee Ballots

The large absentee vote in the 1982 general election (6.4 percent of the total) came about primarily as a result of an effective organized campaign to get Republicans to vote by mail.” – Mervin D. Field, director of the California Poll

Based solely on the voters who went to the polls on November 2, 1982, Tom Bradley beat George Deukmejian by nearly 20,000 votes.

Having said that, the Deukmejian Campaign Committee without fanfare distributed 2 million absentee ballots to Republican voters. George Deukmejian won the absentees 59.6 percent to 37.4 percent, a margin of nearly 113,000 votes.

Game. Set. Match.

The distribution of absentee votes to high propensity, philosophically aligned voters was novel in 1982, and now its di rigueur in today’s campaign GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts.

Reportedly an overconfident Tom Bradley stopped campaigning the weekend before the election, comfortable with his upcoming victory. For example, the projected 20 percent electoral participation by minorities turned out to be only 15 percent.

Would another four days of campaigning by Tom Bradley have made a difference in the closest gubernatorial election in California’s political history? One could think so.

Time to Let It Go?

Some would suggest to Almost DailyBrett that it’s past time after nearly four decades to let go of the “Bradley Effect.”

Tranquillo.

Keep in mind, the “Bradley Effect” keeps coming back even when a Caucasian hombre (e.g., Trump) was running against a Caucasian mujer (e.g., Hillary) in 2016.

The worst impact in my mind as the former press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee is the implication that we were racist.

We also did not receive the credit deserved for running an effective, winning campaign with an outstanding candidate/future governor: George Deukmejian.

It’s a shame the “Bradley Effect” seemingly resurfaces every four years.

The reports of the death of the Bradley Effect have been greatly exaggerated.

https://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/FieldPoll1982analysis.pdf

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/persistent-myth-of-bradley-effect/

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-07-01/news/mn-6379_1_bill-roberts

http://articles.latimes.com/2000/dec/28/local/me-5509

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pancakes-and-pickaninnies-the-saga-of-sambos-the-racist-restaurant-chain-america-once-loved

… With this election, my heart is filled with the greatest hope, because I know this man (George Deukmejian) … I say the man with the experience, the knowledge, the integrity to do the job is the man that’s here on the platform with us tonight, George Deukmejian. Elect him Governor.” – President Ronald Reagan

It was the summer of ‘82.

Attorney General George Deukmejian two months before prevailed in a rough Republican gubernatorial primary.  The contested issue: Which candidate was closer to Ronald Reagan.

Now the focus shifted to the fall campaign.

The date was August 24. The scene was a $500 fundraising reception at the Beverly Wilshire, The guest of honor, Ronald Reagan.

A voice announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States.”

Walking through the door was a smiling, handsome 71-year-old man with a full black mane of hair. He was at the time the oldest president in American history.

Just 17-months earlier, he almost succumbed to an assassin’s bullet.

But on this particular Tuesday evening … he looked like a million bucks.

For the author of Almost DailyBrett, it was a life-changing, transformational moment.

For a 27-years young campaign press director, seeing the president of the United States up close and personal for the first time, Reagan came across as a kind man with a radiant demeanor.

Reagan approached the podium, awaiting his introduction by my boss, George Deukmejian.

Even though Reagan was the most powerful man on earth, there was not even the merest glimmer of arrogance, let alone someone who saw himself as a counter-punching street fighter.

Reagan commanded the room, even with an ever-present an aw-shucks grin on his face.

Many argue about Reagan’s place in history, but there’s no debate in your author’s mind about his persona and presence. He will always be The President of the United States of my lifetime.

Born a Democrat

Just like Ronald Reagan, your author was born into a Democratic family.

Could have sworn that Nixon’s first name was “Damn.”

As Almost DailyBrett wrote on the sad occasion of the passing last month of George Deukmejian, he was the governor who changed my life.

What also drastically altered my view of the world was a 1981 two-week trip to the Soviet Union.

The magnificence of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s in Moscow, the Hermitage and the summer palace of the Czars in St. Petersburg are worth the trip itself. The coverage of the World Cup by Fox Sports is bringing back memories of that game-changing trip.

There was also the comment of my best friend who made the trip with me: “They (Soviet leaders) treat their people like caca (different word than the actual).”

Communism did not work then, and will not work now. Get over it.

Reagan was labeled as a “Cold Warrior” as if that term was a pejorative. He saw it as a badge of courage. His vision was simple: the U.S. wins and the Soviet Union loses.

Looking back at the confluence of the 1981 trip in-and-out of the Soviet Union, my job as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee, and the magnetic presence of Ronald Reagan, your author made the decision to become a loyal Reaganite Republican.

Under the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, the only way someone will change entrenched philosophical positions is with the presence of COMPELLING NEW information. Reagan was the completion of that philosophical shift.

Visiting The Reagan Library

Politics was just as rough in the 1980s as it has been since the birth of a nation in the late 18th Century.

The difference was a sense of civility as Chris Matthews wrote in his book, “Tip And The Gipper, When Politics Worked.”

Last year during a second visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and factoring in the present political climate even with a Republican in the White House and leading both houses of Congress, your author kept on looking toward heaven quietly asking …

Could you come back?’ ‘Please!’

https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/research/speeches/82482d

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LwOCanMkAY

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-governor-who-changed-my-life/

 

 

We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

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.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

“ … Y’all sit here, y’all trying to interview people during their worst times. Like that’s not the smartest thing to do … like people are really breaking down, and y’all are sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us.” – Houston Mother to CNN covering Hurricane Harvey

“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond, who comes on at five. She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. It’s interesting when people die. Give us dirty laundry.” – Don Henley, Dirty Laundry, 1982

The author of Almost DailyBrett was present at more than his fair share of fires, floods and earthquakes, first as a reporter and later as the press secretary for former California George Deukmejian.

Regardless of the particular circumstances or magnitude of the disaster (e.g., 1989 Loma Prieta 7.1 intensity earthquake), one thing was always certain: The media was out of control, and had no sense of proportion.

The media eventually becomes obsessed with who is responsible, when it just can a combination of geography (i.e., flood plains, seismic faults, hurricane paths) and the ferocity of Mother Nature. Many times no one is at fault, but with the media someone must be the scapegoat – the higher in the political strata, the better

The pattern begins with the media focusing on the particulars (e.g., time, epicenter, Richter scale reading, number dead, number wounded, damage estimates, how to contribute to disaster relief …). This information is vital to the public, and demonstrates the power of the media at its finest.

Predictably, the media grows bored with the mere reporting the facts and inevitably the hunt begins for who is responsible – even when no one is responsible. The attitude changes from reporting the news to an all-effort to assign blame.

But that’s not all.

Next up is the effort to interpret the news, offering their expert opinions, and to become part of the story by portraying the “human tragedy.”

The media for years has been guilty of placing a live camera lens and a boom mike in the face of someone is obviously grieving and suffering – maybe the Houston mother and her children having the worst day in their lives – and asking how she feels right then and there.

This footage is considered to be great television in Atlanta or New York, which drives ratings and in-turn, precious advertiser dollars. What may be great television to network execs (e.g., CNN) is seen by many as cheap exploitation of those who are suffering by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Do these victims deserve a little consideration and sympathy before the boom mike and camera is thrust into their faces? The Houston mom called out CNN in a graphic and profane way for having absolutely no consideration of her feelings, and the suffering endured by her children.

Will CNN and its rivals ever learn a lesson about sensitivity and empathy as a result of this shameless exercise? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.”

Redefining ‘Disaster Porn’

“Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet? You know, the boys in the newsroom got a running bet, get the widow on the set! We need dirty laundry” – Dirty Laundry, Don Henley

The conventional definition of “Disaster Porn” reflects on those who try to economically exploit a crisis (e.g., September 11, Boston Marathon Bombing) with special t-shirts and hats to demonstrate solidarity with the responders and victims. In reality, these are arbitrage opportunities disguised as cause marketing for those who only look to profit off misery.

But what is the difference in making a buck by selling t-shirts and hats on one hand, and thrusting boom mikes and microphones in the face of grieving people while broadcasting live to drive ratings on the other hand?

Almost DailyBrett is not necessarily equating making a cheap buck off the sale of disaster event hats and t-shirts with the exploitation of misery by the networks and labeling both of them as “disaster porn.”

Having said that, there needs to be a process in which the network asks off-camera with the full-calm assent of the victim to a live or taped interview before the interview takes place.

How about it, CNN?

Sure beats being scolded on national television with an F-bomb for emphasis.

http://nypost.com/2017/08/29/harvey-victim-with-freezing-kid-curses-out-cnn-reporter/

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=disaster%20porn

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/americas-addiction-to-disaster-porn/

https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/disaster-porn-or-ethical-coverage-houston-mom-goes-off-on-cnn

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Laundry_(Don_Henley_song)

https://playback.fm/charts/top-100-songs/video/1982/Don-Henley-Dirty-Laundry

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/loma-prieta/

 

Not exactly, Cogito, ergo sum.

In 1988, your Almost DailyBrett author had the privilege of spending a lovely Sunday Valentine’s Day lunch with Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

There was nothing romantic about our encounter. Dan was very interested in what was in my folder: a copy of the Democrat majority’s plan to conduct a Kangaroo Court hearing the following day to justify voting against former Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Long Beach) as state treasurer.

Each Democratic senator, one-after-another on the committee, was to serve as a “prosecutor” on an assigned issue (e.g., Lungren voting against reparation payments for families of Japanese WWII internees). Nobody who had successfully negotiated the riggers of second grade expected a fair-and-objective state Senate confirmation hearing. The memo made it clear the proceeding was indeed a “prosecution” in a stacked court case, meant to provide political cover for Democrats voting against Lungren.

And why was the majority so aligned against a mere member of Congress?

Five-term congressman Lungren was telegenic, articulate and represented an electoral threat to the Democrat majority in Sacramento. He was appointed to the state Treasurer position in 1987 by my boss, Governor George Deukmejian, after the passing of legendary former Speaker Jess “Big Daddy” Unruh.

Dan Walters naturally already had another column teed-up for Monday, February 15. Nonetheless, he instantly could appreciate how the publication of the infamous “Forsyth Letter” could result in collective knickers being in a twist at stormy state Senate confirmation hearing the following morning.

Almost DailyBrett compared the Forsyth letter – named after Senate Pro Tempore David Roberti’s press secretary and author, Robert T. Forsyth – to the Oklahoma Sooners game plan being published in the Lincoln Journal Star the morning of the big contest against Nebraska.

Walters’ piece was entitled, “A Game Plan for Democrats.”

Dan Lungren was outraged at the hearing, waving a copy of the Walters’ column at the Senate Democratic majority members on the panel. Lungren and by extension my boss, Governor Deukmejian, won the PR battle that day.

Alas, we were not ultimately successful. The Assembly confirmed Lungren. The Senate voted against Lungren. We did not prevail before the California Supreme Court on whether one house was sufficient for confirmation. Finis.

True to his battling form, Lungren recovered from the non-confirmation going forward to serve two terms as California’s attorney general, running for governor, and returning to Congress for another eight years. He is now lobbying on The Hill at 70-years young.

Number of People Knowing + Time = Leak

“If you don’t want to read about it in the Sacramento Bee, don’t put it down in writing.” – Often heard admonition in the State Capitol building

The Forsyth memo was prepared. Xerox machines started to hum. Copies were made. At least one of these game plans found its way to your author. Gasp, I leaked it to Dan Walters. The only stipulation: there would be no direct reference to me or my position in the Office of the Governor in his copy.

The column greeted Democrats the following day.

As the press secretary for Governor Deukmejian, my job in many cases was to deflect leaks targeting my boss and our administration. In this particular case, I was the leaker.

Every leak has a purpose. The practice is not new. And as long as the written word exists, particularly in digital form (e.g., leaked 2016 John Podesta campaign emails), leaking will remain intact until Armageddon.

As the New York Times defines the practice: “Generally, a leak is an intentional disclosure of secret information, often by an anonymous source whose goal is to make the information public.” Yep.

For example, the British provided a copy to President Woodrow Wilson of the secret 1917 (German foreign Minister Arthur) Zimmermann Telegram. The telegram was meant to entice Mexico to enter World War I on the side of Germany in exchange for U.S. territory. The subsequent publication of the telegram in March 1917, helped fuel the flames for the U.S. to declare war on Germany one month later.

Donald Trump has been known to fire off intemperate tweets condemning the widespread leaking in his administration, including one ironically posted on  Valentine’s Day 2017: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”

His predecessor Barack Obama conducted a “war on leaks” and yet these unauthorized disclosures continue.

Let’s face it, Washington D.C has always leaked like a sieve and always will. Ditto for state Capitals (e.g., Sacramento) and highly covered publicly traded companies. Putting this genie back in the lantern is simply not going to happen, particularly in our Big Data world.

As an admitted leaker, the author of Almost DailyBrett has also been on the receiving end of unflattering leaks on more than one occasion. My advice to any political or business entity: Practice discipline. Remember: Good government/good business is indeed good politics/good business.

And to the leakers/aspiring leakers, there is a responsibility to always ask yourself whether you are hurting the country, you purport to love with your leaking?

If the answer is “yes,” the end does not justify the means. There are legitimate reasons for confidentiality particularly in our increasingly dangerous world.

Almost DailyBrett notes: Belated congratulations to Dan Walters for his 8,000 columns for the Sacramento Bee during the past 33 years, and 57 years in service as a journalist … Still miss Bobby Forsyth, one of the nicest and funniest guys I ever met. He passed away in 1999. May Bob continue to rest in peace.

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-26/news/mn-24766_1_state-treasurer

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Lungren

https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1988&country=1

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5908_1_senate-democrats-position

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5912_1_state-supreme-court

http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-7/descartes-i-think-therefore-i-am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/business/media/are-leaks-illegal-explaining-history.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/obama-leaks-aggressive-nixon-report-prosecution

https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article154087854.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The man who reads nothing is more educated than the one who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson

“A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.” – Joseph Pulitzer

Has there ever been a time in recorded history when past-and-present reporters have been so incensed?

Has there ever been a time in recorded history when past-and-present reporters have been so happy?

trumpenemy1

 

 

Donald Trump is good to the last drop, and reporters, editors and correspondents love it.

In the parlance of journalism, Trump is “great copy,” maybe the best story of all time.

Just like catnip, the media can’t stay away. They can’t help themselves. They not-so-secretly want to bring down Trump, and they want to bring him down hard. He in turn has declared war on the “failing” New York Times and the “Clinton News Network” (CNN) and several others.

Some First Amendment types have brought up the names of the worst despots (i.e., Stalin, Mao, Mussolini …) in global history, stating that totalitarian regimes start this way. These critics completely omit the inconvenient fact that dictators dominate their media and use it for their own propaganda.

Trump may be trying to control the media through Twitter and other means, but he can’t … and he is crafty enough to know that. When his tenure comes to an end, the media will have the last word.

An Adversary By Any Other Name Is Still An Adversary

As a press secretary for a Republican governor (e.g., George Deukmejian) in a blue state (e.g., California) during a time when it was “Morning in America” (e.g., The 1980s), the author of Almost DailyBrett confronted two adversaries on a daily basis: The Democrats in the state Legislature, and the political press corps.

Were these two adversaries officially aligned, and did they coordinate their opposition to our administration? The answer of course was for the most part, negative.

Democratic press secretaries really only have to be concerned with one adversary: Republicans. The media largely serve as their unofficial allies.

enemiesofthepeople

Keep in mind, the vast majority of reporters, editors and correspondents take a vow of poverty to work in the Fourth Estate. As a result, they are distrustful of those who espouse buy low, sell high. The media for the most part concur with those who see raising taxes and manna from the government as the solution to every societal problem.

Is it a stretch to suggest the media (i.e., NYT, WAPO, NBC News, CNN …) are an extension of the Democratic Party? Yes, but not that much of a stretch. Republicans instinctively look at the masthead or the source of any poll or assertion, and immediately discount it, if it hails from predictable liberal media.

Think of it this way, good-and-dependable government is contrary to the economic interests of the media. If government works and is grounded in a steady philosophy (e.g., Deukmejian years), the media is bored and restless … a bored media is a dangerous media.

Consider this question: If 999 planes land safely at DFW Airport and one crashes, which one gets the attention of the newsies? The media feed off crisis, chaos and dysfunction. Whatever you admit, acknowledge or concede will be printed or broadcasted 99 percent of the time … or does Almost DailyBrett understate the case?

And what has Trump given the media? A steady stream of chaos and controversy, which leads to “great copy” and “good dirt.” Let’s ask here and now: Are the media’s best interests consistent with the nation’s well-being? Does the media relish reporting about that one plane, which falls out of the sky, allowing them to cover it and generate good copy?

trumpenemy

If the answer is “yes,” does that make the media a friend, an adversary … or worse?

The great-and-late New York Times pundit, William Safire, ghostwrote these words about the media for largely inarticulate and disgraced former Vice President Spiro Agnew: “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.”

Is it good politics for Trump to take on the media, especially before red meat audiences such as the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC)?

According to Gallup in 2016, only 32 percent have a great deal/fair amount of confidence in the media, a decrease of 8 percent from 2015 and down 40 percent from the post Woodward & Bernstein era in 1976. Yikes! Guess that means that nearly 70 percent of Americans have a poor or no opinion about the media.

The media relishes pointing out Trump’s approval rating of only 44.4 percent (e.g., Real Clear Politics polling average), but even the unpopular president is running 12 percent ahead of the post-Dan Rather-era elite media. Both Trump and especially, the media, need better public relations.

Trump has many sins to atone for, but he is neither the first White House resident to complain and disdain the media nor will he be the last.

One rule he certainly has violated was summed up beautifully in the 19th Century:

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” – Mark Twain

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/426038.Joseph_Pulitzer

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/02/17/trump-calls-the-media-the-enemy-of-the-american-people/?utm_term=.8431a8b1b181

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/21/the-lefts-hypocrisy-on-trumps-enemy-of-the-american-people-comment/

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain135280.html

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Nabobs_natter_about_the_passing_of_William_Safire_1929-2009.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/admit-acknowledge-or-concede/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

 

%d bloggers like this: