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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Murphy’



Voters Turn to Web for Politics (Calbuzz Sets Pace)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

All but overlooked in the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll is some intriguing new data that shows a dramatic shift in how people get their political news in the state: web sites and blogs have now left newspapers in the dust as primary sources of such information.

“People more and more are getting their news and information about California politics and elections on the internet,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC’s CEO and director of the survey. “Television and newspapers are not what they used to be.”

The survey asked respondents to identify where, ”you get most of your information about what’s going on in politics today.” The results show that while TV remains the top choice for 37 percent of Californians, the internet is now in second place, at 24 percent, while newspapers lag  behind in third, with only 15 percent saying it is their main source for politics.

The findings cap a decade-long cultural trend: When PPIC asked the same question in 1999, 45 percent listed TV as their leading choice, while 30 percent said newspapers and only five percent pointed to the internet.

While the influence of political coverage in newspapers has sharply declined, however, there was some good news in the poll for the industry: Among those who use the internet for politics and elections news, 47 percent said they turn to newspaper web sites, only slightly fewer (50 percent) than those who said they use other types of websites (we name no names).

As for those who still consider newspapers their leading political source, nearly three in four (73 percent) said they read the paper version of the publication, a significant drop-off since 2007, when PPIC first asked the question, and 87 percent said they preferred the paper rather than the‘net.

The PPIC research is just the latest in an ever-accumulating mountain of evidence that shows the traditional MSM business model, which consisted of publishing or broadcasting a general interest news and information product to a mass audience which is then marketed to advertisers, continues to crumble.

With the rise of the internets, the mass audience has fragmented, and consumers now have a virtually unlimited number of niche news sources where they can find more in-depth and detailed information about specialized topics (we name no names).

The good news: a vast array of choices for readers and viewers. The bad news: consumers, citizens and voters never again have to read or watch something with which they disagree.

“People can now find many sources of information they agree with, instead of seeking a broader view,” said Baldassare. “The trend certainly has pluses and minuses.”

Late Edition: At our request, PPIC ran another crosstab which found that among those who have both a cellphone and land line, 34% get their political information from TV, 26% from the internet, 16% from newspapers and 11% from radio. Among those with a land line only, 62% get information from TV, 12% from the internet and 10% from newspapers. This is a HUGE difference and suggests that the shift to the internet for information is moving right along with the shift toward cell phones and away from land lines.

When it rains it pours: Speaking of digital technology, we can only hope that Her Megness found it amusing when her spokeshuman, the volcanic Sarah Pompei, made a one-letter URL error on a Twitter message she was forwarding from chief strategist Ned Beatty Mike Murphy, and accidentally directed the entire Golden State political press corps to a You Tube video of a Korean transvestite bass player.

The story about Pompei’s mis-tweet promptly went viral, though Calbuzz is not entirely certain that it counts as good news for a campaign in the closing days that the most popular message you put out is about a Korean transvestite bass player.

No word yet on who the guy is endorsing, and apparently no truth to the rumor that before he makes up his mind he’s demanding more info on eMeg’s position on intellectual property rights.

How dare you? Belated mega-kudos to our old friend Cathy Decker, High-Ranking News Sheriff and Ace Rewrite Person for the by-God L.A. Times’ vast political team, for neatly working the word “umbrage” into a recent analysis about the low-rent controversies, including the whole “whore” kerfuffle, that pockmark California’s campaign for governor:

It was not immediately clear who uttered the comment; the Brown campaign said it was not the candidate. The candidate was not heard disabusing the speaker, in any case.

Whitman’s campaign responded in full umbrage, calling the word choice “an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California.”

“This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman,” her spokeswoman, Sarah Pompei, said.

And yet the same Whitman campaign last June tried to dismiss as inconsequential reports that the candidate, during her tenure as chief of EBay, had cursed at and pushed a young woman underling.

Decker’s splendid adjectival construction provides an entry point into a re-examination of “umbrage politics.” In this silly political game, a candidate or campaign takes deliberately misconstrued, overdrawn or reductionist offense — of the “I’m shocked – shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” variety — at some statement or act by a rival (see: Fiorina, Carly; entire campaign).

Or as Michael Kinsley put it, in a lovely little piece called “Do People Really Want a Stupid President” over at Politico:

This puts us in the fashionable world of “umbrage politics,” where the game is to take as much offense as possible at something someone said or did. Usually this will involve giving the controversial statement or action an interpretation, or at least an importance, your victim obviously never intended and hiding the obvious fact that — far from being “saddened” or “outraged” — you are delighted to have this stick to beat him or her with.

Obama said that “facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day” at the moment “because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.” (Columnist Michael) Gerson riffs on this: “Obama views himself as the neocortical leader —  the defender … of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression.” In short, he takes this single sentence from the president, deconstructs it thoroughly enough to qualify for tenure in many an English department and calls the result “some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.” Then he goes to town.

We’re shocked – shocked!- to find that umbrage politics is going on in this campaign.

Final word on whore: Better late than never, Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss breaks it down once and for all. Let us not speak of this matter again.

Consumer’s Guide to eMeg’s Empire; Debate Round II

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

In a bold attempt to go where no one has gone before, some of Jerry’s Kids, using campaign finance reports and information from the web, have pieced together an org chart of the Armies of eMeg Whitman for Governor campaign – that massive, impenetrable bureaucracy that is responsible for spending (and receiving) something approaching $150 million of eMeg’s money.

Counting people up, across and over (which sometimes puts people in more than one sector of the Invasion of Normandy graphic) we find eight people in scheduling and advance, 10 staff and consultants in policy, 16 in coalitions, 16 in field operations, 27 in fund-raising and finance and 24 in communications, including eight in the research group.

“In the green box marked ‘Miscellaneous Campaign Staff,’ there are an additional four staffers who have made more than $100,000 from Whitman, and we have no idea what they’re doing,” Brown’s research director told Calbuzz.

Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer likens Whitman’s campaign to a massive aircraft carrier that is stalled in the middle of the ocean, floating listlessly, unable to gain momentum despite spending millions and millions and millions on TV and radio advertising, internet communications, mail, telephone banks, fundraising, event planning and execution – you name it, USS eMeg has paid for it.

Whether that’s an accurate portrayal of a campaign operation with no equal in the history of California is still uncertain. This we know: No governor’s office we’re aware of ever had such a massive org chart, unless you count all the agencies and departments that are part of an administration and the CHP protective detail.

Also, no one in a governor’s office ever made this kind of money: strategist Mike Murphy’s Bonaparte Productions, $861,474; adviser Henry Gomez, $769,216; campaign manager Jilian Hasner, $667,552; adviser Jeff Randle, $572,949; security director John Endert, $261,682; communications director Tucker Bounds, $293,349; press secretary Sarah Pompei, $154,872; yadayadayada. That’s not even all the big-tick items and it’s only up to the most recent financial reporting period.

Another Calbuzz blow for truth, justice and the American way. We report, you decide.

China in a bull shop: In sifting the detritus of Wednesday night’s big Senate debate, we hereby declare that the wrong-headed wags who described it as a “dud” or “boring” apparently  tuned in to the wrong channel, and were watching the Dodgers game or something.

All right-thinking persons agree that Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer both were strong, smart and sharp in acquitting themselves favorably in the debate, and that their relentless, tough but civil exchanges made for one of the more impressive such events in recent memory (given the state of our short-term recall facility, of course).

That said, the rivals also each owned their fair share of foibles and fumbles, even if they did manage to avoid making utter fools of themselves. Here’s a look at some lowlights for each:

Hurricane blowing in the wind: Fiorina’s thoroughly baffling refusal to publicly endorse Prop. 23 – a stance that can only anger conservative backers while earning her exactly zero props from the anti-greenhouse gas gang – has already been well chronicled and chewed over here and here (don’t miss the part where she says, “look, I’m not trying to be evasive here”).

As lame as her performance on climate change was, the much under-reported nadir of her night came at the post-debate press conference, when she engaged in a cringeworthy colloquy with the Sacbee’s Dan Morain on the subject of China. Peering over his little gold spectacles and speaking in a gentle voice, Morain hooked Carly like a fish, asking her, in effect, what such a champion of capitalism and liberty as herself found so appealing about an authoritarian communist-run state as a place to do business.

Q: You spoke favorably about China and what China has done to create jobs. Is- are there things that China does that you think California ought to do?

A: Absolutely. China has done wonderful things to create jobs. Let’s start with the fact that they created things called ‘special economic zones’. Now we have things that are called something similar here in California, but we didn’t follow through with policies that actually create jobs….

I have called for the creation of something similar called “Jobs for American Zones”, and in those “Jobs for American Zones” we would give very specific tax cuts and tax credits…to hire American workers we would use the power of the federal government to cut through regulation and we would make sure that we are rewarding innovation.

Every single one of those things I just mentioned, China rewards innovation better than we do…and if you ask a manufacturer how easy it is to build a new manufacturing plant here in California what they’ll tell you it has become virtually impossible because of the taxes they have to pay and the thicket of permits and regulations they have to go through. So yes, let’s learn from what the Chinese have done.

Q: Well, well China has very different rules as relates to labor and human rights and things like that

A: And I certainly do not suggest that we follow Chinese rules on labor. That is not why most companies go to China…certainly technology companies are not going to China for the cost of labor. That’s a very small piece of the cost of a technology manufacturing plant.

To recap:

1-Personnel costs: negligible business expense.
2-Shortage of child labor laws and environmental regs: no discernible benefit to balance sheet.
3-60 hour work weeks at 60 cents an hour (and they pay us for the bed they sleep in, boss!):  no big deal to bottom line.

Please remove your shoes and AK-47s while going through security: We also were scratching our heads over Carly’s line of attack accusing Boxer of not having authored enough legislation; we always thought conservatives were pretty much in favor of that whole…governs best which  governs least thing, no?

Simply put, isn’t breathing fire about excess regulation and then ripping your opponent for not writing enough bills sort of like complaining the restaurant food’s lousy and the portions are too small?

Let’s leave that one off the highlight reel: Another iCarly low moment came with her sputtering defense of her previous statements of support for the sacred Second Amendment rights of folks who appear on the government’s post-9/11 don’t-fly list, a dumb and  unnecessary pander to right-wing primary voters that she’s now stuck with.

Calbuzz debate hint: As a general rule, fighting from a deep defensive crouch while desperately trying to explain that you really didn’t mean to say that terrorists have an unalienable right to bear arms is only rarely an effective tactic. (And don’t get us started on her stirring call for We the People to throw off the shackles of government so we can all walk the streets, heads held high, free men armed to the teeth with assault rifles and criss-crossed bandoliers of ammo).

Who’s on first: It was an interesting coincidence that Boxer also managed to screw the pooch on the arms-for-dangerous-airline travelers issue.

Presented with a big ole’ hanging curve ball she should have belted into the third deck, Babs only hit a weak foul ball in her response on the matter. Rather than portraying Hurricane as a dangerous extremist intent on arming jihadis, Babs inexplicably lurched off into a nonsensical riff about how, uh, my opponents position on this issue, coming during a GOP primary debate a couple months ago, uh, really upset Tom Campbell, who, uh, almost never gets excited, but this time got so upset he said, “oh my” or something.

At which point living rooms all over California suddenly filled with conversations like:

Huh? Wot’d she say? Who’s Campbell? The soup?

No, dummy, the one running for Senate…

I thought it’s Fiorina’s running for Senate…

Oh. Yeah? Campbell’s for governor then…

No, Whitman’s for governor, the one makes the candy, not the soup…

Point of order, point of order: Babs also had no answer for Fiorina’s criticism (contradictory and politically self-canceling as it was) of her thin legislative record.

Every time Hurricane raised the issue, the junior Senator from California  started dithering about “a thousand Boxer measures” or a “thousand Boxer provisions,” language that no doubt is useful for chopping it up with the parliamentarian in the Senate cloakroom, but isn’t quite as compelling for what you might call your Real People.

Next up: Boxer’s thousand points of light…

Your slip is showing: Boxer’s worst gaffe came in her otherwise strong closing statement, which she screwed up by solemnly declaring that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business.”

Oops.

It didn’t take Babs manager Rose Kapolczynski,  always cool as the other side of the pillow, to issue one of those “What Senator Boxer meant to say” statements:

Throughout the debate, Barbara Boxer described the importance of tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class.  In her closing statement, she skipped a word mistakenly saying that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business” rather than fighting for “tax cuts for the middle class and small business,” which her record clearly demonstrates.

Freud never sleeps.

eMeg’s Secret Diary: Muffy and Bryce Come to Dinner

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Thanks to sources close to our imagination, Calbuzz brings you some purloined excerpts from Meg Whitman’s secret campaign diary.

Wednesday

Dear Diary,

So Muffy and Bryce came by last night for drinks and stayed for dinner, and they were absolutely mesmerized when I told them about my plan to create jobs, fix the schools and cut government spending.

Griff insisted we play charades, so I shoved him and smacked him around a little, but I have to admit he was very amusing when his turn came. His category was “books,” and he pantomimed performing neurosurgery on Arnold. The answer, of course, was “The Governor’s Brain is Missing.” Tres drole!

As I told Muffy, it was a real relief to spend a few hours away from all that campaign dreariness, especially those loathsome reporters and those sweltering people in Barstow and Indio and Weed, all of them snorting and hocking at their own jokes about how I should put their trailers and chain saws and snow machines up for sale on eBay, ha, ha, ha.

I had  Conchita whip up a quick cote de porc rotie, which was tasty, but the crostini for the soupe aux oignons were unspeakably soggy. So I had to box her ears a little. I simply refuse to let her fail.

Oh dear, someone’s tapping at the study door. Qui est la?

Later: So that was Henry, who’d completely failed at a very simple assignment I’d given him. I’d asked him to buy us at least one TV station in each major market, so we could stop paying retail for all this advertising. Instead he came back with some dithering excuse about the FCC or something.

So here’s what I thought about that: I had to chew him out, and then I gave him a couple of good swift Ferragamos to the shins and reminded him that I forbade him to fail.

Then I pushed him out the door, and told him to get back to it before I started eyeballing his expense sheets and he ended up like that poor Mark Hurd, with barely a penny to his name. Off he went.

Before I could get back to you, diary, it was the cell phone next (bless Sarah, the little minx, for finding that “God Save the Queen” ring tone – quelle amusant!). It was Murphy calling.

Of course he wanted to come over and talk about his script again. So I had to explain once more how focus is so important. So what I thought was, I’d tell him I’d like very much for him to give the movie project a rest and instead focus on getting me over 40 points some time before 2016, if it wasn’t too  much trouble.

But he insisted it was important to see me and before I could say no, I noticed that someone had emailed a photo. When I paused to open it, he rang off before I could stop him (reminder: tell him again to keep his shirt tucked in, or else I’ll have to shove him down the stairs).

I was so pleased to see the photo was from the boys. A mother’s biased, of course, but I must say they both look quite dashing in those orange fluorescent vests.

Now what is that commotion outside my window?

Later: Murphy’s come and gone – he wanted to know if I thought we should get Dennis Franz or Ned Beatty to play him in the movie (I suggested Danny DeVito – and thank you for asking).

In the meantime, those appalling nurses showed up on the south lawn again, parading around and beating their drums and doing their chants. All so tiresome. Although the crown on the Queen Meg person does look rather fetching, but that red velvet cape with the faux ermine will never do.

So I decided I’d have Lupe fetch a big pot of boiling oil which I thought I’d  pour down on those awful women, but as soon as I’d pushed her out of the way to lean out the window, Tucker came running in, insisting I couldn’t do that because the reporters might ask questions.

So I gave him a belt in the mouth, but then decided he might be right. So I just tossed a couple of paper weights and tennis racquets and that snow globe that plays “You are the wind beneath my wings” that Mitt gave me, and a candelabra or two down on them and that sent them scurrying off.

Oh dear, it’s past time to head for the Navigator and go meet (ugh) more  voters. Such a chore, though I’m certain they’ll be pleased to hear my plan for creating jobs, improving schools and cutting government spending.

More later, diary!

(Editor’s note: Monty Python scene a random bonus non sequitur.)

Within eMeg’s $110 Million: Payoffs to Sock Puppets

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

After one day off, we just couldn’t help ourselves:

Spend a little time reading through Meg Whitman’s 691-page campaign finance doorstop report and you understand why Jerry Brown is, as one of his friends put it Monday, “completely freaked out” about how much money is being spent against him. And why he has tried to get every Democratic consultant in the western hemisphere (and a couple of Republicans, too) to work for him for free.

Whitman has now reported spending nearly $100 million, including $14.7 million just between June 8, when primary season ended and June 30, the end of the reporting period. That doesn’t event count July, when she upped her ad buy. Which means that when you count her monthly expenses and her TV and radio time, she’s likely spent about $110 million to date.

Meanwhile, Brown spent about $633,000 in the reporting period and has somewhere around $24 million in cash on hand – enough to cover his campaign and maybe eight to 10 weeks of advertising.

That eMeg is swamping Krusty in spending is not even a story any more. The fun is in the details. Here’s how Steve Harmon of the Contra Costa Times broke it down:

– $64.3 million on TV, radio, and the Web;
– $9.7 million on campaign consultants (including $861,474 on her chief strategist, Mike Murphy, a total that engulfs the $83,000 that Jerry Brown has spent on his campaign manager, Steven Glazer);
– $7.6 million on campaign literature and mailings;
– $4.3 million on campaign workers’ salaries and health insurance (including $196,000 to communications director Tucker Bounds, plus $7,349 for meetings and appearances; — – $125,311 for spokeswoman Sarah Pompei, plus $29,481 on travel and lodging; and $101,288 plus $3,968 on travel and lodging for top oppo-research aficianado, Dan Comstock; and, not to be overlooked, $125,480 to the former San Jose Mercury News political reporter, Mary Anne Ostrom);
– $2.8 million on information technology;
– $1.7 million on office expenses (AT&T should be very thankful for the business);
– $1.2 million on polling and research;
– $1.9 million on Whitman’s travel, lodging, meetings and appearances;
– $953,726 on staff/spouse travel/lodging;
– $847,155 on fundraising events;
– $703,869 for legal and accounting services;
– $521,067 on phone banks;
– $462,030 on postage, deliver and messenger services;
– $230,000 to the California GOP;
– $120,910 on print ads (the true tell on Whitman’s feelings about the importance of newspapers).

Some of those categories, by the way, actually understate how much was spent because the coding on the finance report isn’t entirely consistent. For example, there’s another $1,755,610 to Tokoni – the online company run by Meg’s former retainers at eBay – that’s not included in the above mentioned $2.8 million.

And there are a few items that ought to set some eyebrows on fire. There’s the $1,000 payment on June 30 to Eric Hogue, the conservative commentator who presents himself as a journalist but who, in fact, is nothing more than an underpaid flack for Whitman’s campaign. (LA radio stars John and Ken of KFI-AM are pretty pissed off about that. “There’s nothing lower than a paid whore who runs a radio show supported by a political candidate,” said John.)

And for those of you who remember our report back in February when we noticed “a $20,000 disbursement to Green Faucet LLC, which is an investment firm owned by Chip Hanlon and also the parent company of his Red County web sites.” The payment was made about a week after Hanlon fired Aaron Park, the erstwhile, paid sock puppet for Meg rival Steve Poizner.

Hanlon told us the $20k was nothing more than payment for advertising on his web sites, but we found another Red County advertiser who was paying about $300 a month for the same size ad, suggesting the subsidy was something more than it was supposed to appear.

No shit. Since then, Meg has paid Hanlon’s Green Faucet $15,000 a month for a total now of $110,000! Which means everything you read on Red County and from Hanlon is nothing more than sock puppetry of the first water.

A cursory glance through our email in-basket finds at least 10 times when eMeg’s flacks have sent out missives to reporters telling them to be sure to catch a piece by Hanlon or Red County. As if it were some sort of commentary by a neutral party. NOT!

BTW, our friend Jon Fleischman over at FlashReport – the most closely read conservative aggregator and platform – has pulled in a mere $18,765 in ad revenue. Which, World Headquarters for High Finance, Arbitrage and Bake Sales reminded us in a memo, IS $18,765 MORE THAN MEG (OR JERRY) HAS PAID FOR CALBUZZ ADS!!!

Why, we wonder, has Meg paid $3.8 million Arena Communications for campaign literature when the company is based in Salt Lake City, Utah? What’s that $60,000 to Arthur Laffer and his company all about? How do you rack up a $222,000 phone bill? Why send $3.7 million for direct mail to Majority Strategies in Pointe Vedra, Florida?

We’re just asking.

Calbuzz, Web Partners Ask Gov Rivals to Debate

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Three of California’s leading political websites have invited the two major-party candidates for governor to participate in the state’s first Blogosphere Debate.

Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, in partnership with the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley, today sent a letter outlining the debate to Mike Murphy and Steve Glazer of the campaigns of Republican nominee Meg Whitman and Democratic nominee Jerry Brown.

Here’s the letter that was emailed today:

Dear Mike and Steve,

On behalf of Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, we are pleased to invite Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to participate in a two-person, first-ever California Blogosphere Debate. The College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley will also serve as debate sponsors.

As you may know, the Washington Post has named Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics the three leading political web sites in California. Collectively we provide on a daily basis a full range of political perspectives and analysis, from conservative to moderate to progressive.

We have secured Morris Dailey auditorium at San Jose State University for the afternoon and evening of Monday September 13th (with back-up possibilities on the 14th and 15th). The specific time of the debate would be decided later in consultation with the campaigns, but we anticipate a 60-minute event, scheduled at a time between 4 pm and 7 pm. The format, with final details to be determined, would likely include the following:

– Moderator: John Myers of KQED (pending approval from KQED)
– One questioner each from Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics
– Two-minute opening and closing remarks from candidates
– One question for both candidates from each panelist with two-minute responses
– Two questions for each candidate from each panelist with two-minute responses
– One minute rebuttal from each candidate for each question
– Introduction, follow-ups as permitted by moderator and closing statements.

This means each candidate would field six questions: three common questions for both candidates and three questions specific to each candidate. Both candidates would have an opportunity for rebuttal on every question.

We envision candidates standing at podiums with television lighting. Neither candidate would use scripts, notes or props although they may take notes during the debate. A pre-arranged coin toss would determine the order, with the candidates given the option of opening first or closing last. We would offer a live feed to any television or radio station or online broadcaster interested in carrying the debate. We anticipate one pool camera crew to shoot the debate.

As you’re aware the news industry is in a state of radical transformation, with the internet steadily playing a larger and more significant role in setting the public agenda. We believe that our proposal offers a unique and historic opportunity for your campaigns to play an important role in shaping that agenda, and we hope you will give this invitation your most serious consideration. Please respond by 5 p.m., Friday, June 25.

Very truly yours,

Phil Trounstine, Jerry Roberts, Jon Fleischman, Brian Leubitz, Robert Cruickshank