Posts Tagged ‘Seema Mehta’



eMeg to Calbuzz: Get Your Own Damn Mailing List

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

As loyal readers know, our Department of Political Entertainments and Gemutlich Joie de Vivre has been pining by the phone for more than nine months now, eagerly awaiting Meg Whitman’s call in response to our courteous invitation for dinner.

We’ve been patient long enough.

Knowing that Team eMeg recently sent a letter to the California Nurses Association asking for their mailing list so that their candidate could have “a free and unfettered dialogue” with the group’s members, Calbuzz on Monday morning sent a similar request to the campaign’s communications shop, seeking their help so we can let her backers know what a raw deal we’re getting on the whole dinner thing:

“We’d like to get a copy of the Whitman campaign mailing list so we can communicate directly with your supporters,” about our invite, we wrote. “Please let us know when we may expect receipt.”

To our surprise, we hadn’t heard back by 2:30 p.m. and so sent a follow-up note:

“Did you send the mailing list yet?” we said. “Think it might have gone into spam.”

Still nothing.

So we finally bestirred ourselves to pick up the phone and call a high-powered, highly-placed campaign source to find out what the hold-up with the list was.

“I’m quite busy today,” the source said unhelpfully, if not volcanically, requesting anonymity on the grounds she didn’t want her name used. Besides, the source added, eMeg’s mailing list is taken entirely from the rolls of registered voters: “It’s all publicly available information.”

So we calculated the cost of mailing a letter complaining about the Whitman campaign’s lack of responsiveness to our dinner invitation to all of California’s registered voters, at 44 cents a pop: $7,469,893.64.

Sheesh. Couch cushion change for the Whitman campaign maybe, but almost a whole month’s worth of advertising revenue for Calbuzz.

Well, at least now we understand how frustrated eMeg must feel at the nurses’ totally unreasonable refusal to turn over their members’ personal information to her (not to mention that whole Queen Meg thing).

Believe it or not, the nurses group actually thinks a candidate for governor should show up at an event to address them in person. Maybe they should just invite her to dinner.

Update: The indefatigable Jack Chang reports over at Capitol Alert that the Whitman camp has now escalated its fight with the nurses union by launching a new web site attacking the organization’s leaders for spending money attacking eMeg.

The mouth that roars: Back when Jerry Brown was governor the first time, before indoor plumbing was installed at the Capitol, it wasn’t unusual to see him wander into one of Sacramento’s finer saloons, where he’d nurse a glass of white wine and hold forth to whatever collection of pols, hacks and press corps types happened to be assembled in good fellowship.

That image of Brown came to mind in recent days, when he got burned by one of his characteristically wide-ranging monologues, after talking to a radio reporter whom he happened to run into one morning shortly before the primary, while both were working out in the Oakland Hills.

Brown’s comparison of the Whitman media campaign to the Big Lie techniques of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels  went viral as soon as eMeg’s minions discovered it on the blog of KCBS reporter Doug Sovern, and her army of spinners did an excellent job of keeping the story alive for days after.

Putting aside the widely-known political rule that whoever makes a Nazi reference always, deservedly, gets in trouble , the most intriguing question about the flap is how an old-school candidate like Brown, who’s open, accessible, ironic, candid and seat-of-the-pants will match up in a long, internets age campaign against a closed, secretive, humorless and obsessively controlled and controlling corporate marketing machine like Team eMeg’s.

“There are many lessons to be learned here,” Sovern wrote in his blog, a few days after his 15-minutes had ended.

If you’re running for public office in the 21st century – watch every word you say, and where you say it. Just as the rest of us should assume that any email or text we send could end up being viewed by just about anyone, politicians should always assume that anything they say could be recorded or reported…Jerry Brown isn’t the first to learn this the hard way; he’s just lucky no one happened to whip out an iPhone or Flip camera and video our exchange, so the world could see him say those words, the way I reported them.

Seema Mehta cut to the heart of the conundrum in a good LAT piece examining the contrast between how Brown handled his snafu and the way Whitman disposed of a potentially damaging NYT story reporting on how Herself got angry, then got physical with an aide back in her days as CEO of eBay.

Whitman did no interviews after the reports appeared about the physical altercation. Her spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed that as “coincidental.”

“Meg has public events planned in the near term, and I’m confident you’ll be speaking with her soon,” he said.

By contrast, Brown has barely stopped talking since his comparison of Whitman’s campaign tactics to those of Joseph Goebbels surfaced on a news blog June 10.

The comments have continued to make headlines in part because of the Whitman campaign’s efforts. Her large staff, which include veterans of presidential campaigns and teams of opposition researchers and communications specialists, has trumpeted Brown’s remarks, blasting out seven e-mails over eight days with the latest developments.

But Brown kept the matter in the spotlight himself simply by answering questions, a response that seemed reasonable but served to regularly give the story new oxygen.

Brown’s own small, Bad News Bears team of media advisers shrugged off the Goebbels matter as a no-big-deal example of Jerry Being Jerry.

They argue that, in the end, Brown’s greatest strength will be his authenticity, which they believe will match up favorably for voters against the zillion dollar artifice of Meg-a-branding.

Maybe. But there’s a difference between being a provocative, iconoclastic public intellectual and acting like crazy Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a fine line that Brown would be well served not to cross.

PS: We note that eMeg DID take a question from radio yakker and Whitman sycophant Eric Hogue in which she blithely dismissed the New York Times story about her physically shoving an eBay employee as a “misunderstanding” and a “verbal dispute,” thereby basically calling the New York Times report a lie. Wonder if the Gray Lady is gonna stand by and let eMeg smack her around (kinda like they reported she did to Young Mi Kim back in June of 2007).

Difi Detritus Meets Campbell Jihad Fall-Out

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Are you going to believe us or your lying eyes? Our aging tickers have almost, finally, chilled out from all the excitement of the big finish to Dianne Feinstein’s epic Dance of the Seven Veils (free at last, free at last!)

So it’s time to shoot the wounded among the insiders and other hacks who kept retailing the rumors that she was about to jump into the governor’s race – Psst! We hear it’s any minute now! – months after all right-thinking people agreed that this would never happen.

Few find themselves in a state of such embarrassing exposure  as Sherry Greenberg, who blogs occasionally over at California Majority Report.

As grizzled, veteran, long-time Capitol Hill Outsiders, Calbuzz was most impressed with Greenberg’s blog credentials as “a long-time Capitol Hill insider.” And her connections came in pretty handy when she wrote, on Feb. 15, that Indiana Senator Evan Bayh’s surprise retirement was a clear signal that DiFi was about to flee Capitol Hill for our parochial governor’s race.

So, what does (Bayh’s move) have to do with California?  Quite possibly a lot…I can’t help but think that faced with serving in the minority in the next Senate, Dianne Feinstein might decide that trying to cure California’s many ailments is more desirable than remaining in the Senate.  Certainly, the gridlock in California is no worse than that in the US Senate and the opportunity to cap her career by becoming California’s first female governor and the savior of the state might outweigh remaining in a likely hostile Senate.

While Feinstein just missed making history as the first female Vice Presdiential candidate in 1984, she has the opportunity to become a role model to young girls by showing that a woman can be a tougher and more effective governor than a film action star…

The record will show that:

a) Generally speaking,  “I can’t help but think” is not what you want to lean on for your Well-Informed, Reliable Source.

b) Difi “just missed making history as the first female Vice Presidential  candidate in 1984” by a considerably greater amount than former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who actually did make history as the first female Vice Presidential candidate in 1984.

c) To the surprise of no one, Feinstein officially announced she wasn’t running for governor. Less than 48 hours after Greenberg’s 7:10 p.m. post.

Considerably more effective at covering his tracks was Willie Brown, who had at least stopped flogging the Feinstein rumors a couple of weeks earlier.

Faced with the fact-based reality that she wasn’t running, despite his best and repeated efforts to sell it in the news pages of the Chronicle, Mr. Speaker at least had the grace to construct an entertaining narrative to explain away his energetic bid to keep the DiFi speculation alive for the past year.

The first indication I got that she was cooling to the idea was when Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, were seated front and center at her 30th wedding anniversary party at the Fairmont a few weeks back.

For some of us, politics is a bit like the Mafia: Kiss you one day, kill you the next. Not Dianne. She would never invite someone she was planning to run against.

As Mrs. Humphry Ward famously said: “The first law of story-telling – Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”

He told me he taught The Political History of the Mideast: Tom Campbell was doing some serious whistling past the graveyard Friday, hyping a new poll from something called M4Strategies that was featured in a Fox & Hounds piece proclaiming he’s widened his lead in the GOP Senate primary.

Team Campbell was doubtless glad to have something to talk about other than his past ties to Professor and Islamic jihad figure Sami Al-Arian, a nasty little controversy that suddenly gave Dudley Do Right foes Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore a hammer with which to bash him over the question of how good a friend Campbell is to Israel.

Conservative blogs were smoking for several days with tough attacks on Campbell over the Al-Arian connection before LATer Seema Mehta put the legal and policy issues in context. As for the politics of the matter, check out Politico’s reprise of how a Senate candidate in Florida lost his race amid a similar controversy involving the good professor.

How about 10 cents on the dollar? DBI honors to Chronicler Wyatt Buchanan, whose piece on whether California can/will/should go bankrupt  was excellent. Buchanan also gets credit for capturing the quote of the week, from L.A. Assembly member and newly-minted congressional candidate Karen Bass, who’s pretty darned pleased with herself for her not-very-impressive term as Speaker:

“I am one of those that serves out of a calling and not out of a personal ambition,” she said. And I guess I’d add that my biggest weakness is really my incredible humility.

Please don’t call my wife: Don Ringe takes a hard look at the candidacy for governor of alleged Prince Frederic von Anhalt, ninth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor.