Posts Tagged ‘media’



GOP Wrap-up: When Blind Men Grope Elephants

Monday, March 15th, 2010

From eMeg’s historic press conference and Dudley Do Right’s abject apology to Hurricane Carly’s Oprah star turn and Stevie Wonder’s  imitation of Attila the Hun, the Republican state convention was 48 hours of pure existential ennui punctuated by a few peak experiences. Here are the weekend highlights and low lights.

eMeg channels Leona – Meg Whitman drew a batch of favorable coverage for finally meeting with reporters, but some of her ditzier comments got lost in the scrum.

For starters, LAT beat man Michael Finnegan asked a tough question about her investments in companies “that profit from the economic hardships that people are undergoing in California.” Her answer was stunningly tone deaf, as she passed on the plight of working people in favor of discussing her investment planning principles:

We obviously have a broad portfolio of investments…you know, everything from normal stocks and bonds to distressed funds…I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of hurting individual people – it’s a smart investment strategy that we employ both or our personal funds as well as for our foundations.

The Commish channels Jerry Brown – Steve Poizner spent the weekend defending himself against press reports and Whitman charges that he’s a late-to-the-party conservative whose record is papered with examples of moderate and liberal stands on which he’s flip-flopped. At one he offered this Jerry Brown-like evolutionary explanation (HT to AP’s Juliet Williams):

Some of my positions have solidified or crystallized, but I was a conservative back then, and I’m a passionate conservative now.

No word yet what “passionate conservatives” evolve into – “knuckle draggers,” perhaps?

Hurricane Carly does Lady Gaga – Carly Fiorina emerged as the star of the show, injecting a much-needed blast of energy into the proceedings Saturday with her Oprah-miked, lady-in-red, slam-speech,  bringing delegates to their feet and walking the talk about why she’d be a tough opponent for Barbara Boxer. Working in the round, she spoke without notes except for a single sheet of paper set atop a stool in her stand-up set-up, and in the process managed to hit a few sour notes.

One came about the 12th time she begged for approval: “Yes, you can applaud,” she said repeatedly, after one of her applause lines had hit the wall. She also offered up the single clunkiest line of the  the weekend when she inexplicably compared her chemo-cut to Boxer’s political longevity:

“The biggest difference between  Barbara Boxer’s Senate career and my hair is that my hair will grow longer.”

No word on what the lesser differences between Boxer’s career and Carly’s hair might be.

Campbell releases his inner Br’er Rabbit – The nominal front-runner in the Senate race has had a miserable couple of weeks, as he’s gotten more and more ensnared with the political tar baby of his past support for jihadist professor Sami Al-Arian. It was just two weeks that Campbell snapped with righteous indignation at the “silent slander” being waged against him by Camp Carly on the issue.

Since then Fiorina manager Julie Soderlund has kept the pressure on, pounding Campbell day after day with fact after fact, forcing him to revise his story about his ties to Al-Arian repeatedly and finally to flat-out apologize at a press conference as the convention got underway on Friday afternoon.

Chuck DeVore briefs the war room - At his Saturday press conference, the Orange County assemblyman and wannabe Senator’s military bearing, crisp presentation and invocation of Sun Tzu underscored his status as an Army Reserve Lt. Colonel; his sharp command of facts about the political terrain of 2010 and the organizational aspect of the GOP Senate race made his case for the chances of a long-shot upset bid for the nomination plausible, if not persuasive.

He admitted he won’t have enough money to do a serious TV buy, but argued that as the Fiorina-Campbell race gets nastier and more personal every day, it’s likely heading for a murder-suicide denounement: “What happens when the rubble clears” he asked Calbuzz rhetorically, then pointed a big thumb to his own chest, with a smile.

Madness in Marketing – Fiorina media consultant Fred Davis deservedly got widespread attention for “Hot Air: The Movie,” his latest break-through-the-clutter web ad, but Team Carly also produced the coolest souvenir of the weekend – a postcard size hologram in which Campbell morphs into the Demon Sheep then turns back into Dudley. The late night guerrilla teams that slipped it under the doors of reporters added a whiff of mystery to the enterprising hit piece.

Best performance by a non-combatant in a supporting role – Aaron McLear, Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s spokesflack, aimed a strong counterpunch to eMeg’s pie hole, after Whitman had opined to reporters that all in all, Arnold’s administration had been pretty lame.

While it’s nice to see Ms. Whitman finally talking to reporters, it would be even better if her comments were based in reality.

Poizner does schtick – Amid a logorrheic torrent of talking points at his press conference, Poizner’s best line was a quick, unplanned quip that came in response to a reporter informing him that Whitman had said she’d voted for him when he ran for the Assembly in 2004. “I can predict that Meg Whitman is going to vote for me again in November 2010,” he said without missing a beat.

eMeg does schtick - Her Megness matched Poizner one-liner for one-liner, when she snapped an answer to a question about her rival’s political record:

There’s one liberal Republican in this race, and it’s not me.

How Republicans are like Crusaders – The parade of party members who delivered invocations before every big event uniformly took as their point of prayerful departure the assumption that God is clearly playing for the GOP squad, as this example from Saturday’s lunch illustrates:

Lord…we humbly ask You to expand the Republican territory.

And maybe put a little oil underneath while you’re at it, Sir.

Mitt Romney morphs into Andrew Dice Clay - Romney’s hard-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside intro of Meg just before her limelight gig was bad enough, but he preceded it with a dumb anecdote set at the 2008 Summer Olympics, where, he said with a leer, he’d paid close attention to his favorite sport – “women’s beach volleyball.” Heh, heh.

Why the media gets a bad rap – The worst press question of the weekend came from the middle of the scrum around eMeg on Friday, when some unidentified knucklehead asked the candidate, who’s a long way from even winning her party’s nomination this clunker:

Would you commit to serving a full four year term if you’re elected governor? There’s been talk about you as a national political figure.

Even Her Megness had a big laugh at that one.

GOP Extra: Shocker – eMeg Meets the Press

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Calbuzz gets results: Suddenly shifting gears on media strategy, Meg Whitman showed up at the Republican state convention Friday and promptly met with California political reporters for a full-on,  one-hour press conference that made us wonder why they’ve been hiding and sneaking her out of the back door for the last year.

Now if she goes to dinner with us, we may have to actually quit bitching and moaning about the whole issue of her accessibility.

“It’s the first of more to come,” eMeg said of her give-and-take session with political writers. “We’re now getting down to the short strokes of the primary so you’ll see more of this, and I’ll be doing more and more one-on-one interviews.”

As a short-term political matter, Team Whitman’s move to have the candidate hang  with the political pencil press, after months of missteps, stumbles and embarrassing flights from reporters at campaign events, stops the bleeding on a self-inflicted wound.

She got unfavorable national attention this week, when she refused to take questions after inviting the media to cover an event in Oakland. Friday’s performance may also take a big bite out of a narrative being pushed by GOP rival Steve Poizner – that Whitman is too aloof, imperious and controlling to open herself to the normal rigors faced by candidates in California.

“I don’t think we handled it very well,” she said of this week’s incident at the Port of Oakland. “I should have taken questions. It’s one of those days on the campaign trail where things don’t go how they’re supposed to.”

At the convention site Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Whitman handled questions ranging from taxes to temperament, from pensions to prisons, from immigration to her investments (which were the subject Friday of a must-read piece in the L.A. Times).  Although she frequently retreated to talking points, she was direct, facile and responsive in discussing a host of policy issues, as well as the politics of the campaign.

“Steve has changed his mind on many, many issues, immigration is just one of them,” she said of her GOP rival. “When he ran for Assembly in 2004, in a largely Democratic district, he had a very different tune on a whole host of issues.”

At one point, Calbuzz asked her about her recent threat to veto every piece legislation except those focused on her agenda of job creation, spending reduction and education improvements. We asked her to explain what in her background equipped her for dealing with the push and pull of political forces in the Legislature and, while we didn’t really get an answer to that, she responded without hesitation to a question of whether she thought her veto stance sends the right message to a co-equal branch of government.

“I do,” she said. “I think it’s firm and its ‘listen, here’s my approach, here’s what I want to get done, here’s what the people of California expect us to do so let’s focus on these three things.

“I think by saying ‘I will veto everything’ except for public safety, I mean, if we have an earthquake or something, right, we’re going to be realistic about it, but I think by saying ‘we’re not going to do any of the other stuff, let’s put all of our energies against these three things,’ and I have to tell you the nearly 700 pieces of legislation that were signed into law last year, virtually none of this was on point to the crisis…

“The legislature is interested in many things but they’re interested in being re-elected, so can we focus the Legislature around my three priorities?”

Like Jerry Brown on his announcement tour last week, Whitman said she would move the Legislature in part by improving personal relationships between it and the governor’s office.

“I think in many ways this is about relationships. The next governor has to move to Sacramento…you’ve got to buy a house, you’ve got to be part of that community you’ve got to know every state senator by name, every Assembly person by name. You’ve got to build the relationship because life is about relationships…

“Trust is an important thing and consistency is an important way to build trust and one of the things that hasn’t happened here has been consistency.”

We’ll have more on eMeg’s take on issues in days to come.

Update 10:35 pm: eMeg shudda quit while she was ahead.

Instead she decided to test the limits of human endurance and deliver a speech that was reliably reported to be left over from her middle school student council election to an audience of 500 Republican delegates seemingly struggling to stay awake, who applauded enthusiastically at exactly three lines: a) “I want to eliminate the capital gains tax”; b) “we will win the battle to give rank and file union members the right to protect their paychecks”; c) “Thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight…thank you.”

The highlight, such as it was, came during her introduction by former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, one of her mentors. Romney, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday – who says Mormons don’t know how to have fun? – stumbled all over himself in introducing her:

“She’s soft on the inside and hard as nails on the…” he began. “…Excuse me…she’s soft on the outside and hard as nails on the inside,” he added, never really explaining how he would know such a thing.

Earlier Poizner had his own news conference, and channeled the Energizer Bunny cranked up on about three Red Bulls. He hammered eMeg on a host of issues, most especially illegal immigration.

Poizner said as governor he would “yank the business license” of companies that employ illegals,  move to secure the state’s border  “with the National Guard if necessary” and “turn off the magnets” by ending “all taxpayer funded benefits for illegals – not because anyone’s being heartless – this is about ending the magnets so that people don’t come here in the first place.”

“Meg Whitman is not willing to do that. I supported Prop. 187, she does not support Prop. 187,” he said. “It’s one of these important distinctions between the two of us that’s critical.”

Poizner speaks to the delegates Saturday night.

Road Trip: 3 Key Questions for the GOP Convention

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Cue the elephants: Although half of our Western Hemisphere Bureau is on Special Assignment, sampling voter opinion in Cozumel, the short-handed National Affairs Desk will try to soldier on to offer our unique brand of babble-to-babble coverage of this weekend’s Republican state convention.

The festivities promise to be the most intriguing political event since, um, Eric Massa made Glenn Beck’s head explode, as the confab bristles with crucial questions about the future of the California GOP, if not the whole damn Republic. Like:

Will Carly Fiorina stroll the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara accompanied by a Demon Sheep? Will Tom Campbell issue a white paper entitled: “Sami Al-Arian: A Man and His Music”?

Will Meg Whitman take Mitt Romney’s advice to use a little dab of Brylcreem? Will Steve Poizner unveil a cell phone GPS device that only  allows right turns?

Will Joe Garofoli try to sneak those little booze bottles from the mini-bar out in a pillowcase, bellowing that they should be included in his room rate? Will Flash Fleischman be carted off in a straitjacket from the sheer excitement of it all?

Only Calbuzz, from our skybox high above the convention floor, will answer these and other of life’s persistent questions.

You sure do ask a lot of stupid questions: Of course, it’s also true that answers to several other, um, more purely political questions may help to shape the increasingly entertaining GOP primary races for governor and U.S. Senate. Such as:

1-Will eMeg talk to the press?

Meg Whitman, the GOP’s front-runner for governor, heads for the convention coming off her worst week of the campaign since, well, since the last state Republican convention.

Her bizarre behavior at the now-infamous Union Pacific non-press conference train wreck not only attracted a ton of national media attention – here, hereherehere and here , for example – but also drew a quarter-ton of brickbats from within her own party, like the wily conservative blogger Jon “Flash” Fleischman, who’s also a state GOP officer:

I have not been in a hurry to pen a commentary on this topic as it seems like how an individual campaign handles the media is really its own business.

Except as of yesterday, we are now shifting to “embarrassing” as the adjective of choice to describe the situation of Whitman and reporters — where we are now seeing prime time television news reports about the avoiding of reporters! This is not good for Whitman, in my humble opinion, and I know it is not good for the GOP — the latter being my reason for weighing in.

A small-bore controversy at first glance, Whitman’s performance in Oakland on Monday seemed to crystallize a bundle of doubts about her candidacy – her record of failing to vote, her shyness about debates, her year-long avoidance of serious press interviews, her refusal to release her tax returns, her disinclination to avoid any but the most controlled campaign events – that can be summed up in the question: Who is Meg Whitman?

eMeg’s sprint to the head of the pack has been built entirely on the strength of millions in paid advertising. Now her imperious behavior, however, has got the press corps snarling and growling, which could make things unpleasant for her, at best, should the pack go into full barking and baying mode.

One good way to soothe the beasts would be to make herself available for a full-blown press conference at the convention, in which she handles every question that comes at her, by herself, without restrictions and without the help of press handlers or down field blocks from campaign thugs.

2-How hard will Poizner hit illegal immigration?

Still far behind eMeg in the polls, Steve Poizner is showing signs of gaining some traction with his recent red meat offerings to the GOP right-wing, a faction over-represented among the grassroots convention attendees.

The V.C. Star’s Timm Herdt has smartly noted the emphasis that Poizner has been putting on the issue of illegal immigration, among the most visceral concerns of conservative voters.

With eMeg having expressed her distaste for the milestone Proposition 187, Poizner will work all weekend to rally the troops around this and other filet mignon matters; if he succeeds, he could build up some steam heading out of the weekend and into next Monday’s first debate with Her Megness.

“Meg’s message so far has been very muddled,” said one veteran GOP consultant who’s not playing in the governor’s race. “Steve is now talking directly to the conservative base and what he’s saying has some edge to it.”

3-What’s the Tea Party going to do?

As the aforementioned Chronicler Garafoli reported, a busload battalion of Tea Party types plan to raise the flag at the convention, which could make for some interesting political theater:

There may not be any candidate debates at the GOP hoedown this weekend, but the pitchfork and torch crowd will be welcomed home like prodigal children….angry prodigal children. Is there a family therapist in the house?

“Probably 70 percent to 80 percent of our supporters are disaffected Republicans,” TP Express spokesman Joe Wierzbicki told us Monday. So while the Tea P has problems with both parties, they have a better chance to affect change by changing the GOP, he said.

“By us being there, I’m sure people will be wondering,’Is the Republican Party selling out to the Tea Party?’ or ‘Is the Tea Party selling out to the Republican Party?’ People can have that discussion. I’m sure it’s a little bit of both,” he said.

Good times.

For conservatives, the energy and the passion of the political moment reside squarely with the Tea Party crowd, and their enthusiasm for a candidate can make a difference in a close race. Just ask Senator Martha Coakley, D-Mass.

One beneficiary of it this weekend will likely be Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, the right-wing’s favorite son in the three-way GOP primary for the nomination to oppose Senator Barbara Boxer in the fall. As Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina beat each other’s brains in on issues like Israel and internet taxes, you can make an argument that DeVore is the only guy in the race with a clear, identifiable political base.

As the Tea Party’s tribune, DeVore could make things interesting if either Campbell or Fiorina fades, and he’s left standing as the conservative foil to a moderate front-runner.

All that said, the biggest question of the weekend convention is: How much does it really matter?

Traditionally, Republican conventions have been pep rallies for grassroots folks who ring doorbells, make phone calls and help organize modest fundraisers. But California’s zillionaire candidates are running for governor on television, period, and their presence at the state convention is something of a courtesy call.

This is especially true of Whitman whom, our sources tell us, has already bought a staggering $12.6 million in cable and broadcast time. That kind of campaign plan renders party activism and enthusiasm largely irrelevant.

Sure, it’s nice to have some excitement generated from the base and sure, convention types represent some votes themselves and with the people they can bring to the dance.

But it’s not like the old days (“We walked 12 miles to school, through the snow, barefoot!”) when a candidate for governor stone cold needed hard-core party activists. eMeg, especially, has no need for actual people, except perhaps as props.

A final note: Calbuzzer Don Ringe imagines eMeg and The Commish encountering each other in the convention hotel hallway.

eMeg Meltdown II & What Poiz Will Renounce Next

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

eMeg Shipwreck, The Sequel: Meg Whitman got a little payback Wednesday for her year-long campaign  to stiff the California political press corps in favor of giving interviews to friendly national types, when The Fix, the Washpost’s widely read national politics blog, did a long post that featured video of her embarrassing media meltdown in Oakland the day before.

Kudos to Randy Shandobil of KTVU and Hank Plante of  KPIX, who each turned in a nice piece of story-telling on the debacle, giving insiders and other hacks across the state and nation a chance to hoot and cackle at the spectacle. Given the breathtaking stupidity of the play, it’s a challenge to pick one favorite image from the event:

a) eMeg’s Alfred E. Neuman act, as she sits behind a mike wearing a moronic rictus grin and utters the words that serve as the brand of her whole campaign: “I think we’re not going to be taking questions right this minute.”

b) The unfortunate Sarah Pompei’s portrayal of Ron Ziegler, after Her Megness turns to her press secretary in doe-eyed desperation: “How do you want to handle this, Sarah?”  Pompei first shoos the press out of the room, as a guy who looks like the third-string nose tackle for USC starts blocking and body checking the cameras, before the campaign mouthpiece fabricates a total whopper about Union Pacific, host for the event, being the ones who imposed the no-question rule.

c) The bizarre shot of a white screen hurriedly set up to block any video of Whitman being interviewed by Debra Saunders, the Chron’s conservative pundit. Knowing from long experience that the most dangerous place you can ever stand is between Debra and a TV camera, we’re pretty sure that if there were pictures, they’d show the columnist gnashing her teeth throughout the sit-down with eMeg.

Calbuzz pick: a).

Being a CEO means never having to say you’re sorry: Both Shandobil and Plante reported at the end of their yarns that Whitman personally called them late in the afternoon to apologize for what happened, although her explanation to Randy – more press showed up at the event than they expected – makes absolutely no sense.

The pencil press was less fortunate in the area of soothed feelings: Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group did receive a smooth-it-over call from the lavamoric Pompei, but Chronicler Carla “Costco” Marinucci got zilch. We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that she’s the one who’s been leading the charge in demanding that eMeg be more accessible to the press.

What will Steve disavow next? Channeling his inner Goldwater, Steve Poizner in recent weeks has energetically been tossing red meat to the true believers – crack down on illegals, slash taxes of every kind, etc. – while piling up a host of high-profile right wing-endorsements, from Mr. Cranky Pants himself, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Sirloin, to the Tea Party-tinged California Republican Assembly.

Along the way, of course, the Commish has also enthusiastically jettisoned a batch of common sense policy stances from his not-so-long-ago days as a liberal moderate Republican, from offering school districts an easier way to pass bonds to backing public funding of abortions for poor women.

While these flip flops make him look like a total weenie neo-neo-con who’s seen the light, sources close to our imagination tell Calbuzz that Poizner is reportedly making plans to renounce more of his past positions, in an effort to attract more conservative support.  Be alert for these upcoming big moves by The Commish.

1-Retitling his tax and spending cut agenda from the “10-10-10 plan” to the “11-11-11 plan.”

“The number 10 smacks of statist, Stalinist-era, five-year plans and 10-year programs,” we hear that Poizner plans to say.  “But 11, as a prime number divisible only by 1 and itself, represents the essence of individualism and liberty, core principles of my life for the last couple months, unlike that commie Meg Whitman.”

2-Changing his name legally from “Steve Poizner” to “Steve Patriot.”

“Since boyhood, having a “Z” in my name has troubled me,” a draft Poizner press release says. “The letter recalls  Eurotrash egghead poetry places like Czechoslavkia and Islamo-fascist outposts like Azerbaijan, where the liberal Meg Whitman would no doubt feel right at home.”

3-Demanding his wife return to him the $21,000 he sent to the Democrats and Al Gore.

“I swear she told me the money was for the Visa bill,” reads a talking point memo from inside the campaign. “So today I’m calling on my wife to re-deposit the money in our checking account, so I can buy more ads in Fresno bashing eMeg as a commie liberal.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Just think what she could have gotten if she sold the little buggers on eBay.

Arnold vs Calbuzz; eMeg’s Ad Buy; Memo to Media

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Calbuzz contributor Susan Rose, in a post filed Tuesday, roundly bashed Governor Arnold, characterizing his tenure as “a combination of insults, bullying, threats and failures.” After the post, David Crane, Special Adviser to Governor Schwarzenegger, asked for a chance to respond:

By David Crane
Special to Calbuzz

Susan Rose’s recent attack on Governor Schwarzenegger shows an utter disregard for facts.

Ms. Rose conveniently left out the single most important fact about the state budget, namely that explosive growth in government-employee compensation is responsible for crowding out spending for all those social programs she favors.

As one example, from 2003-2010, retirement benefit costs took more than $25 billion away from higher education, parks & recreation, environmental protection, health & human services and other important programs.  As another example, the per employee cost of compensation nearly doubled over the last ten years, stripping money from programs.

All of these costs were cemented into place by contracts and legislation passed by the last administration.  Governor Schwarzenegger has fought mightily to reform those contracts and legislation but legislators in hock to special interests refuse to budge.

Ms. Rose’s column is just another example of non-fact-based partisanship designed to fulfill the wishes of one special interest or another.  The real fact is that the only way to protect programs is by reforming government employee compensation.   While Ms. Rose is happy to raise taxes in order to keep paying more to government employees, Governor Schwarzenegger is not.

Actions speak louder than words. When Ms. Rose is ready to do something about the damage being caused by out-of-control government employee compensation it’ll be time to listen to her.

All eMeg All the Time: The Calbuzz Department of Dumpster Diving & Green Earth Recycling has stumbled upon an internal report from Meg Whitman’s campaign which details the size and reach of her current advertising buy, which can be described in two words: Holy Cow.

The campaign’s Gross Rating Point report, measuring total delivery of the current week’s broadcast ad schedule in 11 markets in California, shows that eMeg’s buy is comparable to what a fully-loaded campaign might ordinarily deliver in the closing weeks of a heated race – not three months before a primary that she’s prohibitively leading.

“These are some big fuckin’ numbers,” said Bill Carrick, the veteran Democratic media consultant after reviewing the report. “She’s buying the whole shebang.”

As a practical matter, 1,000 GRPs a week means that an average TV viewer in a large market would have about 10 opportunities a week to see a Meg Whitman ad;  in smaller markets, with only two or three stations, 700-800 GRPs would be a significant buy. Here’s what the internal campaign report shows she’s doing around the state (N.B. Calbuzz did not independently confirm these numbers):

–Bakersfield 806
–Chico-Redding 603
–Eureka 631
–Fresno-Visalia 986
–L.A. 1,008
–Monterey-Salinas 635
–Palm Springs 806
–Sacramento 984
–San Diego 1,008
–San Francisco 702
–Santa Barbara 929

“With this buy, the chances of not seeing a Meg Whitman spot are pretty slim,” Carrick said.

According to the report, Steve Poizner’s current buy in various markets is a fraction of eMeg’s – ranging from 15 to 50 percent – which seems in the ballpark, based on anecdotal reports from several veteran California media consultants who watch TV incessantly.

One Republican source not affiliated with the governor’s race said he thought the eMeg strategy of going on the air so heavy so early in the campaign might backfire:

“She’s way overdoing it – she’s going to wear out her welcome.”

Meg wears out her welcome: And that’s exactly what the Great Woman did in the East Bay yesterday, when she set off a row with veteran Bay Area political reporters by once again refusing to take any questions – after inviting press coverage of her tour of the Union Pacific Railroad site at the Port of Oakland. Chronicler Carla Marinucci picks up the story:

Then came the news that Whitman also wouldn’t take questions; reporters had been called in to “see” her make statements on “how she could be helpful as governor” on jobs and the economy, Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said.

Veteran reporters, who included KTVU’s Randy Shandobil and KPIX’s Hank Plante, were among the crowd that wasn’t amused. Question: is Whitman a candidate for governor, or a museum piece to be “watched” by reporters?

Pompei told reporters Whitman said the no press tour was a Union Pacific call — that the company’s officials did not want media coverage. (Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt begs to differ. He just told us that “we planned, actually, to have press talk with Meg on the tour….we understood there would be media availability and we wanted to work with that.”)

Calbuzz last year was among the first to throw a flag on eMeg’s obsessive avoidance of the California press corps as a significant campaign issue. (While Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown have both granted us extended interviews, the ticking clock on our request for a sit-down with Her Megness is now six months, three days and counting).

After Tuesday’s disgraceful performance, it seems clear that there are serious issues of  temperament and judgment – control freak arrogance, fear and contempt for reporters whose job is to serve as the eyes and ears of ordinary voters, for starters – that raise questions about her fitness to handle elected office and public life.

Here’s a suggestion for our campaign trail media colleagues: Don’t reward eMeg’s bad behavior. She’s not the governor, she’s not even the nominee of her party, she is a CANDIDATE for the nomination, and so far she has earned exactly nothing.

If Whitman is unwilling to abide by the norms and forms appropriate to a political campaign, then she should not receive coverage appropriate for candidates who do. Stop running stories on any Whitman events in which she refuses to take questions from reporters. Period.