Tag Archive: Sacramento Bee


 “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” – CNN anchor Bernard Shaw’s opening debate question to 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis

“No, I don’t Bernard. And I think you know I opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don’t see any evidence that’s it’s a deterrent and I think there are more effective ways to deal with violent crime …” — Dukakis’ answer to Shaw’s question.

How could Shaw have asked that question? More astonishingly, how could Dukakis have failed to explode at it?” – Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, “Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars”

The unthinkable and startling image of the first lady of Massachusetts being raped and murdered was offered up by a respected CNN anchor, Bernard Shaw, from your father’s CNN of 1988 … obviously not the hyper-partisan CNN of today.

Some reportedly accused Shaw of throwing a fast-ball right down the plate for Dukakis to angrily hit the ball out of the ballpark. Shaw emphatically denied this assertion.

Dukakis didn’t even swing. His wonkish answer without showing any vitriol or emotion about Shaw raising the spectre of a raped and murdered Kitty Dukakis, effectively ended the campaign of the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The author of Almost DailyBrett distinctly remembers settling into his seat for the October 13, 1988 second presidential debate at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, when Shaw serving as moderator opened the proceedings with his provocative (understatement) question.

To most in the audience and millions more at home, Shaw’s question was shocking, one-sided as it did not apply to both candidates … Vice President George H.W. Bush and Dukakis.

Having said that, Dukakis and his campaign team had to know that a death penalty question was coming. Looking back, the Shaw question was a great opportunity for the Massachusetts governor to express outrage, thus firing up his supporters and maybe even the electorate.

Can you imagine one of today’s CNN anchor/correspondent asking that kind of question to a Democratic standard bearer in Donald Trump’s America?

Whattyathink Anderson Cooper? Don Lemon? Jim Acosta? Chris Cuomo? Jake Tapper?

Are There Any Objective Reporters Left To Moderate Presidential Debates?

“News people are no longer trained that they have to bury their personal views and bend over backwards to be fair. That concept went out the window a long time ago.” — Edwin J. Salzman, former Sacramento Bee Capital Bureau Chief

“ … If you have a son in the Marine Corps, and that you don’t trust the commander-in-chief (Trump)” – ABC Martha Raddatz, crying on 2016 election night.

Do you think Raddatz will ever be asked again to serve as a fair, objective and dispassionate presidential debate moderator?

How about noted-for-his-personal-integrity, Brian Williams of MSNBC?

More to the point, is there anyone at Jeff Zucker’s  CNN, who could be trusted to fill this critical role?

Almost DailyBrett has asked this question before and will pose it again: Where is this generation’s Walter Cronkite?

More to the point: Where is modern day equivalent of Bernard Shaw?

“Never laugh at Ted Turner too early …”

There was a time when America supposedly needed only three networks: ABC, CBS and NBC.

CNN (Cable News Network) was Ted Turner’s dream, which after initial scoffing and snickering became the first all-news, all-the-time network.

The network was there to cover live virtually any significant event regardless of its origin around the world … This was Bernard Shaw’s CNN. He served as the network’s lead anchor from 1980-2001.

When the San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the 6.9 Richter Scale Loma Prieta Earthquake on October 17, 1989, my boss California Governor George Deukmejian was sleeping in an airport hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

By the means of a continuously open line from our office to the governor’s hotel room, and just as important through the reporting of CNN, Governor Deukmejian was able to direct the state’s response to the earthquake from nine-time zones away.

California’s Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy was in San Francisco, when Loma Prieta struck with no phone connections, zero television (including CNN) and literally no way to communicate.

This may seem like a stretch, but Almost DailyBrett appreciated at the time that Bernard Shaw’s CNN had become America’s go-to-network for news and information.

Alas, a shift to über-partisan journalism accelerated with the creation of MSNBC, serving the left, and Fox News, oriented to the right, both in 1996.

CNN continued with its emphasis on breaking news stories, but some concluded it was Melba toast, thus suffering in the Nielsen Ratings, compared to MSNBC and Fox News.

Today, CNN has morphed into the second coming of MSNBC with a 24-7-365 stream of angry talking-heads’ invective directed against a hated president. The country already has a MSNBC, it doesn’t need another one.

Does any CNN anchor today exhibit the professionalism, integrity and objectivity to dispassionately moderate a 2020 general election debate?

During Bernard Shaw’s era, the answer was an emphatic, “yes.”

Today the answer is “no,” … “hell no.”

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/lists/debatemoments/bernieshaw.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1844704_1844706_1844712,00.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/31/raddatz-media-watching-each-other-a-little-more-after-missteps-reporting-on-trump-378739

https://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-president-martha-raddatz-tears-up-abc-news/

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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