Tag Archive: San Francisco Examiner


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

The author of Almost DailyBrett will not drive on the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle.

Yes, a reported 110,000 motorists each day use the picturesque Route 99 with its views of Puget Sound.

alaskaviaduct1

Just don’t count me among those who make the drive. The same applies for walking under the double-decker highway to check out the restaurants, shops and amusements fronting the water.

The reason is simple: Memories of Loma Prieta.

“The Bay Bridge is in the Water”

This coming Friday is the 25th anniversary of the 6.9 on the Richter magnitude scale Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck at 5:04 pm PDT just as the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants were preparing for Game Three of the 1989 World Series in antiquated Candlestick Park.

There is something about earthquakes. Once you have experienced a trembler, you instinctively know when it is déjà vu all over again. My first was the 1971 Sylmar Quake in Southern California, registering 6.6 on the Richter. There was a book case above my bed with two huge marble bookends (“dinosaur eggs”); one of which almost hit me in the head.

Twenty-eight years later, the Capitol dome in Sacramento was shaking violently. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver went off the air (in this case, not a good thing). There are no fault lines in the vicinity of California’s capital city.

My assistant press secretary was experiencing her first earthquake. She asked me to “make it stop. Please make it stop.” My influence was and remains limited when it comes to Mother Nature.

As the press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian, I picked up the phone and called the Office of Emergency Services. OES will always take a phone call for the Office of the Governor.

baybridge1.jph

Their info was sketchy, but here were the details: A major 6.9 earthquake hit the Bay Area. The Bay Bridge is in the water. San Francisco is on fire. The 880 Cypress Street Viaduct or Cypress Structure came down. The governor is in Germany … Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Compounding matters were urgent thoughts about my deputy press secretary. He was sitting in the upper deck on Candlestick Park when Loma Prieta struck. Did he ride the upper deck down to the lower deck?

‘Stop thinking this way, let’s just pray for the best.’

Media Types Come Unglued

Our phone lines lit up (there were no cell phones, let alone texting back in the stone ages) with one reporter after another calling, and I was serving as the lead spokesperson for the State of California. Instinct governed me to buy time. Even though I was told the eight-mile, double-decked Bay Bridge (16 miles of cars and trucks) were in the water, I did not know that as a fact. All press secretaries make mistakes, particularly when one takes upwards of 70 media calls in a typical day. Thankfully I did not share the preliminary info from OES, which easily would have triggered shock headlines around the world.

As it mercifully turned out the entire Bay Bridge was not in the water, but a section of the top layer of the cantilever came down onto the bottom deck. The Marina District of San Francisco was on fire, but it was not 1906 all over again for the City by the Bay. The Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed with the top deck crushing cars and motorists on the lower deck, killing 41 of the 63 who perished in Loma Prieta.

The next day, I was playing lion-tamer beside the Cypress Structure with about 400 reporters, including dozens of cameras and sound booms, and one Governor George Deukmejian who was trying to personally assess the damage. It was the first time that I experienced the smell of death. Again, my instinct was clicking.

As the days went on, the media cover took a sinister turn. It was no longer, who, what, when, where and how … but why did the Cypress Structure come down? Who was responsible? Gee, I thought it was Mother Nature.

cypressstructure

Did the governor veto funds for earthquake retrofit? Ahh … no. Did the state spend the funds for earthquake retrofit? Ahh … yes. Was the earthquake retrofit work completed? Ahh … yes, the first phase was complete. How does Caltrans test earthquake retrofits? Ahh … the Caltrans engineers shake models (You can’t shake a freeway).

One chain-smoking reporter for the now-hanging-on-by-its-fingernails San Francisco Examiner came up and proclaimed her reason for the collapse of the Cypress Structure: “(Caca) happens.”

Eventually the media lost interest in Loma Prieta, the very same natural disaster that inflicted an estimated $6 billion in damage and wounded nearly 4,000 in addition to those who lost their lives. In the Office of the Governor, we continued to set up gubernatorial tours of towns and cities impacted by the quake (e.g., Santa Cruz County) even though some media outlets passed on the story. It was the right thing to do.

When it comes to crisis communications, the predetermined emergency plan loses its luster. Instead, your instinct and training needs to kick in. Even though it is tough to be cool, calm and collected that is exactly what is required. And by all means don’t tell reporters, “The Bay Bridge is in the water.”

And maybe you shouldn’t walk under the Alaskan Viaduct either.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/the-bay-bridge-is-in-the-water/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Loma_Prieta_earthquake

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypress_Street_Viaduct

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viaduct

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_San_Fernando_earthquake

 

 

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