What eMeg didn’t know and when she didn’t know it: The whole world watched this week in wondrous fascination the spectacle of wannabe governor Meg Whitman publicly reconciling her recollections about when she registered to vote, when she voted and when she thinks she may remember that she might have voted.
Every day, it seemed, brought a new report of some voter registrar with a pen protector in his shirt pocket unearthing yet another dusty document that represented a new clue to the abiding mystery of eMeg’s lousy voting record. At this rate, Calbuzz is cautiously optimistic that, by the time the June primary rolls around, Her Megness will be well on her way to offering up a story she can actually stick to. A couple observations:
1. There’s one person who’s responsible for keeping this story alive for weeks: Meg Whitman. Her evolving explanations about her voting record, her “go find it” arrogance while the Bee was reporting its big story, and her famous deer-in-the-headlights press conference, revealed a candidate who was ill-prepared for the spotlight of a high-profile political race.
Much blame for this resides with her brigades of high-end consultants, to whom she’s forked out several gazillion dollars, but who failed to protect her by doing an inadequate job on self-oppo research for their own candidate. For eMeg’s sake, Calbuzz hopes this is a teachable moment for her and her campaign staff.
2. Andrew McIntosh of the Bee, who triggered the controversy with his Sept. 24 investigation, does not deserve to be dissed for his reporting. The guy touched all the bases, and the small potatoes revisions in his reporting all came about because three primary sources he conscientiously interviewed – registrars in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Ohio – provided him bum information and changed their stories under the white hot glare of media exposure.
3. We stand by our oft-stated criticism of eMeg’s speech to the February Republican state convention, in which she offered a misleading, 81-word narrative about her voting history. It may be a nit-picking point that she registered in 1999, not 1998, but her clear suggestion in the speech that her registration was clean after that remains a substantial misstatement.
As a political matter, this should teach her that the press will pay attention to every word she says as a candidate, let alone as governor (particularly in a high-profile formal speech — remember W. and yellow cake?). In a high visibility race, getting the truth kinda, sorta right ain’t gonna’ cut it.
In writing about the wobbly statements in her speech, we said there were three possibilities for why she said what she said: a) she simply read what was written for her in the text; b) she delusionally believed that what she was saying was true; c) she was telling a whopper. For the record the correct answer is b).
4. As long as we’re unearthing ancient, archival documents, a Calbuzz HO to John Wildermuth, who scooped the world by being the first to report on eMeg’s shoddy voting record, in a Chronicle story on Sept. 4, 2008, more than a year before the Bee caused big ripples in the pond. Big John’s piece lacked some of the excruciating detail of the McIntosh yarn and, truth be told, buried the news in the third graf (was Brewer stuck in traffic that day?) But he had it first, and he had it right.
5. Having gotten her sea legs (avoid clichés like the plague – ed.) by going through the crucible of the vote kerfuffle (block that metaphor –ed.) we’re hopeful that Her Megness will finally stop ducking debates, not to mention her long-awaited Calbuzz interview. And thank you for that.
The Calbuzz Little Pulitzers: Top Investigative Reporting honors of the week to the Chron’s Jill Tucker for a tough piece on how SF School Board President Kim-Shree Maufas abused the district’s credit card for junkets and her jones for Starbucks; Tucker’s story, put together through public records research, won’t change the world, but it’s a shining example of the kind of local shoe leather reporting that, sadly, is fast disappearing amid the demise of newspapers.
The week’s Top Feature was churned out by the industrious Stu Woo of the Wall Street Journal, who put a lovely touch on his reader about the alarming trend of California lawmakers sleeping on the floor of the Legislature. Money quote, from SF Assemblyman Tom Ammiano: “As I like to say, I haven’t slept with this many people since the ’70s.”
Michael Hiltzik of the LAT captured first prize for News Analysis for ruthlessly shooting the wounded in his takeout on the myriad failings of Gerry Parsky and his doomed and dog-ass Tax Commission.
A special laminated, composition-grade pine plaque award for Expense Account Reporting to Paul Harris of the limey Guardian for a splendid clip job on California – The Ninth Circle of Hell. In old school style, Harris paid once-over-lightly visits to all the mandatory stops (with the curious and rather glaring exception of, um, Sacramento) to retell the hoary tale of how the Golden State is no longer golden. The great tipoff: an exclusive interview with famed Berkeley foodie guru Alice Waters, which doubtless sent the Guardian’s accounting department reeling.
Punditry of the Week award to our irascible old friend George Skelton at the ByGodLATimes, who batted out a damn good column on Monday, demonstrating to the Dayen of Delphi and others who snap at him for “High Broderism” or “Arch Skeltonism” for whatever sin-against-the-left deed he’s done, that he subscribes to that favorite line of ours from ee cummings’ “i sing of Olaf glad and big”: “there is some shit i will not eat.”
Also worthy of a mention: Steve Harmon’s piece in the CoCo Times does a nice job of digging into an obvious question raised by eMeg Explanation #62, the claim that she didn’t vote because she was focused on family and children: What do the feminists say about that?
And the Nikki Finke Nikki Finke Award for Nikke Finke’s Letterman and CBS post that showing, yet again, why Hollywood is so afraid of her.
Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Hurry – deadline’s coming up for the Comb Your Hair Like Gavin Newsom Contest