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eMeg’s Video Feeds Put TV Stations on the Spot

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

When we saw Mike Sugarman’s piece on KPIX-TV about Meg Whitman’s new media tactic — shooting video of campaign events, uplinking to a communications satellite and making the video available to TV stations throughout the state — we thought that was a pretty clever use of her vast resources.

A video news release (VNR) is really just the electronic version of a good old-fashioned press release. And if a campaign — or an officeholder — can afford it, why not distribute video? It’s really up to the TV stations to decide whether to use spoon-fed, edited material from a candidate or official, just like newspapers have to decide whether to publish press releases.

But then eMeg’s GOP opponent Steve Poizner unleashed spokesman Jarrod Agen to charge:

Meg Whitman crossed another line in this race by spending her millions to spread her campaign propaganda in tailored sound bites to news stations. This latest action from Meg Whitman of sending ‘Video News Releases’ to media outlets across the state is not only further proof that she cannot handle an unscripted environment, but it breaches the ethics of journalism. First it was staged town halls, now Meg Whitman is trying to buy positive coverage.

Oh puh-leeze.

Democrat Jerry Brown’s complaint was no more sensible, although it was at least more succinct:  “Meg Whitman isn’t just happy buying commercial breaks, now she’s trying to buy the newscasts, too.”

Yo! Crusty! You want some cheese with that whine?

Here’s the deal: The Whitman campaign is rolling in dough. They can afford to send a videographer on the road with their candidate. They can afford to rent a satellite truck and sat time and make B roll available to TV stations at the same time they’re offering one-on-one satellite interviews with those stations. What’s the problem?

Randy Shandobil of KTVU, the best TV reporter in the Bay Area, said he expects his station will likely ignore eMeg’s video feeds, unless there’s some extraordinary reason to use the footage and then it would be labeled as having been provided by the campaign.

Our old friend Dan Rosenheim, news director at KPIX-TV, pretty much endorsed that outlook. And he agreed with Calbuzz that there’s nothing unusual about candidates using every trick in the book to get coverage.

“The burden in this case is on the news organizations,” said Rosenheim.

The problem is this: small stations around the state with few resources will be sorely tempted to put up eMeg’s video as if it were their own and that’s just unethical. But as Rosenheim notes, that’s a challenge for the news outlets — not publicity-seeking candidates.

This is not the same thing, by the way, as producing and sending out phony news stories with actors pretending to be TV reporters and anchors — as Gov. Schwarzmuscle and former President Shrub tried. This is just packaged video footage.

In the meantime, Steve and Jerry would be advised to save their complaints for when eMeg really does go over the line.

Hey, a little bit of mold never hurt anybody: At a time when MSM journalists increasingly spend their days tweeting, Facebooking, You Tubing and otherwise digitally passing virtual time, it’s good to see somebody’s still doing some old fashioned reporting.

So we’re delighted to award a Calbuzz Gold Medal for Resourceful Reporting and Dumpster Diving to Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the two CSU Stanislaus students who uncovered the secret documents outlining Sarah Palin’s sweet deal to speak on campus in June.

It’s surely coincidental, of course, that the dynamic duo who pulled this stuff literally out of the trash are both political science majors, although any campaign looking for a couple of hungry young oppo research types could clearly do a lot worse.

The pair’s disclosures about the high-end perks Palin demands in exchange for showing up and blathering for an hour or so have made national news, despite the sad fact that they’ve had to share their 15 minutes with Leland Yee, the media windbag state senator from San Francisco.

A word of caution going forward for Lewis and Briggs (whom the university is now absurdly trying to demonize): this line of work can be dangerous. In the future, be sure to heed these dumpster diving best practices guidelines from All Things Frugal.

Equipment

If you are going in the evening, you are going to need something to light up the dumpster. Some people carry a small flashlight. They attach a cord to it, and then hold it in their teeth to keep their hands free. Others wear a headlamp! You can find them at reasonable prices in the bike area of discount stores.

You need something to pull the stuff to you- some kind of pole with a hook at the end. A hoe works. You can also buy long poles that will pick up a quarter in the corner of an empty dumpster.

A stepping stool will help you reach over the top.
Bags- Trash Bags, Plastic Bags, etc., and duct tape in case your bag splits open.
Wet wipes to clean up with, and anti-bacterial lotion for afterwards.

A basic first aid kit, in case you hurt yourself.

– Never climb into a Dumpster with Medical and Hazardous Waste. Anyone can throw out a needle that could jab you. Wear protective clothing.
– Lids that suddenly slam shut when windy.
– Sharp Objects.
– Icky stuff- like dead animals.
– Make sure that there are no ordinances that make this activity illegal in your area.

Union IE Update: Micro-Targeting Voters is Key

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Below, you can read the story we posted Monday when it was announced that three influential union leaders will be chairing California Working Families 2010 — a pro-Jerry Brown/anti-Republican independent committee.

But after talking later to California Labor Federation ramrod Art Pulaski, it’s clear that how this IE will target voters is at least as important, if not more so, than who makes up the coalition.

According to Pulaski, California Working Families will be using micro-targeting technology developed by the Obama presidential campaign and expanded on by the Labor Federation’s Committee for Working Families. The technology makes it possible, Pulaski said, “to identify non-union voters who share our values” in ex-urban areas, places where there are few unions and weak Democratic parties.

Earlier versions of the technology allowed organizers to identify some 600 variables that distinguish voters and voter groups. Now, Pulaski said, the number of variables is virtually unlimited. Moreover, instead of just reaching people with a traditional communication sandwich — phone, mail, phone — now the Fed can use email, social networking, online advertising, local spot advertising (like signs on a bus stop bench), cable ads and more to place a message before sympathetic voters.

What message will that be? Will it be mostly a negative hit on the Republican (whom most people are assuming will be Meg Whitman)? Or a positive message in favor of Democrat Jerry Brown?

Said Pulaski: “Voters are only getting one perspective on Meg right now so this committee is going to give people another perspective on Meg.” In addition, the IE will be “reminding people about Jerry Brown and what he can do for the state.”

Calbuzz is betting that most of the effort will go into the former, not the latter.

Big Union Leaders to Chair and Fund Pro-Brown IE

SAN JOSE — Leaders of the second* major independent expenditure committee supporting Democrat Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor on Monday said their group will be chaired by representatives of the influential firefighters, construction trades and public employees unions.

The union leaders, operating as California Working Families 2010, were in San Jose Monday for a meeting of the California Labor Federation where they agreed on leadership and a strategic plan to coordinate research, polling, focus groups and a paid television and media campaign to drive the message “about why billionaire corporate CEOs with no government experience and other Republican candidates are bad for California’s future.”

“What distinguishes us,” said Larry Grisolano, chief strategist for the group, “is that these are folks coming to the table with the expectation of making serious commitments . . . An IE cannot replace a campaign or a candidate but we can give people important information for when they make their choice.”

Chairmen of the group, announced Monday, will be Lou Paulson of the California Professional Firefighters, Bob Balgenorth of the California State Building and Construction Trades and Bill Lloyd of Service Employees International Union.

Each of them told Calbuzz on Monday they will contribute at least $1 million to the effort which is modeled, as a coalition, after the drive that defeated Proposition 75 (“paycheck protection”) in 2005 with a $35 million unified campaign.

“Our number one goal has to be to elect Jerry Brown,” said Lloyd of SEIU. “The IE will compare and contrast” the Republican candidate with Jerry Brown, added Balgenorth. Paluson, too, said the goal would be to “improve the quality of California.”

But if past is prologue, the union-backed IE is likely to be mostly a vehicle for sharply attacking the Republican candidate — most likely Meg Whitman — especially for her Wall Street connections and her avowed desire to fire 40,000 state employees and cut spending on state services.

In addition to union support, the coalition expects to add environmental, women’s and other progressive groups and have been promised support from billionaire Democrat Ron Burkle, CEO of Yucaipa Companies, whose representative, Frank Quintero is serving as the IE’s treasurer.

Operatives who will run the IE have close ties to the Obama administration and former Gov. Gray Davis. Among them:

– Grisolano, a partner in the Chicago-based political firm AKPD, where Obama political strategist David Axelrod is a partner. Grisolano also ran Davis’s re-election campaign and has worked closely with SEIU.

– Roger Salazar, principal of Acosta|Salazar consulting and former press and communications meister for Davis, in whose operation Quintero and Jason Kruger of SK Impact also first cut their political teeth.

– David Binder, of David Binder Research, is doing polling and focus groups; Marjan Philhour of the California Group is doing fundraising and Link Strategies is doing research.

Another pro-Brown IE already is up and running – Level the Playing Field – with is own cluster of Democratic operatives and strategists and an active online and social media presence. While it has been a constant thorn in Whitman’s side through its online activities, LTPF has yet to put together the resources for a serious television ad campaign.

The California Chamber of Commerce, through its political arm, is likely to be part of an IE effort to counter the unions and oppose Brown. Its first effort in that regard however – an anti-Brown ad masquerading as an “issues ad” — was aborted last week because instead of being run through the Chamber’s political action committee, it was funded, crafted and placed by the non-partisan Chamber itself.

* There’s actually a third group operating independently if you count the California Accountability Project of the Democratic Governors Association.

What Sacramento’s Wimpy Democrats Aren’t Doing

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

donkeyWhen Calbuzz bashed the Democrats’ legislative leaders for getting rolled by Arnold and the Reeps in the budget fight, we heard some cries of “foul” from defenders of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Darrell Steinberg.

Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans and blogger/analyst Bill Bradley were among those who dropped by Calbuzz to comment on the post, arguing essentially that Bass and Steinberg had cut the best deal possible.

“The budget sucks, of course,” wrote Mr. Crankypants Bradley, “And your real world alternative would be … What?”

A fair enough question, and one we answer with three words of advice for the Democrats: Go on offense.

As a political matter, the plain fact is that the Republicans in Sacramento out-thought, out-maneuvered and out-led the Democrats throughout the budget fight. Despite huge majorities in both houses, the D’s remained in a defensive crouch, constantly reacting to whatever the Republican governor and his allies decided to do, consistently wilting while constantly whining that the two-thirds vote budget requirement made it impossible for them to do more.

No one’s saying that the two-thirds vote doesn’t make life difficult. We’ve argued repeatedly that dumping it is the single most important reform needed to attack dysfunction in Sacramento. But Democrats by now have managed to work themselves into a complete state of psychological paralysis about it.

Instead of aggreselephant-donkey-boxing-thumbsively fighting against the tyranny of the minority, Democrats act like the two-thirds is some unspeakable force of nature, an all-powerful totem before which all must bow down and worship in fear.

Underlying this passive posture are two crippling, if unspoken, assumptions: 1) that policy is somehow separate from politics and 2) that the only reality that matters is that unfolding in the hothouse halls, meeting rooms, chambers, restaurants and saloons of the cul de sac that is Sacramento.

Steinberg, in particular, appears so intent on playing the policy statesman that he seems to have forgotten he’s also a leader of a political party, with plenty of untapped resources available to make recalcitrant Republicans pay a price in their own districts for their stubbornness.

Bass, with her adoring gazes at Schwarzenegger, looks and acts like she’s fallen down the rabbit hole of Sacramento; having lost the perspective that there’s a whole big world outside, she fails to wield the fierce and formidable campaign style weapons at her disposal — money, research, troops and technology — in members’ districts around the state.

The bottom line for Democrats is that, unless and until the two-thirds rule gets rolled back, their last, best hope of prevailing is to start treating their political fights with Republicans as a kind of permanent campaign. Here are five tactics the Dems could use for starters:

1. Bury the petty feuds between the Assembly and Senate and among members. These are a key reason why Democrats never get their act together when they’ve got a Republican governor — at least since the Speaker of the Assembly has become a rotating position. Even when John Burton was President Pro Tem, the Assembly and Senate were constant rivals — a foolish and vain conflict that saps strength from what should be a vital majority party. Sure, term limits have made members crazy, so that everyone’s angling for the next position and looking over their shoulder. But unless the party functions as a power center, majorities in the Legislature aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

2. Craft a message. If the Democrats had a clear, consistent and collaborative message in the budget fight, they did a terrific job of keeping it secret. Someone in a position of authority – or a collaborative group — needs to step up and start convening conference calls that include key players – top legislative leadership, John Burton and state party operatives, key Sacramento consultants like Gale Kaufman and Jason Kinney, and maybe even representatives of the gubernatorial candidates – to discuss the news and hash out a simple and coherent message in anticipation or response, to be sounded by every player from every platform so that they start framing the debate and defining the issues.

3. Identify and exploit the weaknesses of individual Republican members. Take a lesson from the way Obama’s White House operates in going after political enemies, like Senator Jim DeMint, or the way the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacks vulnerable GOP members in their districts.  Take a hint from Pete Stark, whose interactive map of stimulus spending could be used throughout California Assembly and Senate districts.

Democratic leaders need to put their forces on a war room footing that quickly and constantly spins off web and cable ads, robo calls, earned media opportunities and direct mail ads pointing out exactly what a GOP member’s “just say no” stance means for his district. Flood the zone with truth squads, protests and demonstrations at member’s offices, focusing tightly on the real world impacts to real people – teachers, cops, nurses, service employees, the sick and elderly – of the ideological recalcitrance of GOP assemblymen and senators.

4. Agree on a progressive tax strategy and stick with it. From day to day, the Democrats bounce around about the need for government spending in a recession, embracing a tobacco or liquor tax one day, sales tax reform the next, ending corporate loopholes on yet another. The net effect is to make them look craven and desperate to get their hands on any public money anyway they can, instead of having a coherent strategy of governance that is both progressive and practical, and that speaks to real people.

For starters, develop in depth and detail for the public the arguments for an oil severance tax – it truly is a scandal that California is the only oil-producing state without one – and stick with it instead of folding the first time anti-tax Republicans jump up and go “boo.”’ The tax cut, trickle down theory of government was soundly rejected by Americans in the last election, and Democrats need to stop living in fear that it’s still 1978.

5. Build stronger alliances with the netroots. The most consistent and smartest thinking and writing about progressive politics isn’t happening in Sacramento, but being churned out day after day on sites and by organizations like Calitics, Orange County Progressive, and the California Budget Project. Many Democratic members, just like Calbuzz, may find some of their stuff too lefty, but their reach into communities of interest of political activists makes them invaluable allies in spreading the message about progressive values and reaching critical mass in the battle to shape the political narrative that shapes public opinion.

Surely, professional political operatives in Sacramento can come up with a better list than ours. We’re just a couple of old hacks who’ve watched politics for 60 years or so, and advising partisans isn’t our job. But the next time we take a shot at the Democrats for their feckless and impotent behavior, don’t say we haven’t laid out some alternatives.

Newsom Hunkers Down: Jaye Books, South Rises

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

ericjaye2When Calbuzz heard from the enterprising Phil Matier and Andy Ross that Eric Jaye, Gavin Newsom’s longtime senior political adviser, was quitting his Prince’s campaign for governor because of “a fundamental difference” (his words) with strategist Garry South, we weren’t bowled over with surprise.

It’s not that South is a control freak; in fact, he’s perfectly capable of working collaboratively and cooperatively with campaign managers and other candidate handlers.

But Jaye to date in the campaign had Newsom heavily focused on using and trumpeting his use of online social network tools, both for organizing and for fundraising and South  is simply not, by nature,  a Twitter-Facebook-kind of guy.gary_south

The last political consultant to elect a Democrat governor of the state, the Duke of Darkness is a bare-knuckles, in-your-face, shoe-leather, hand-to-hand combat veteran who has two main tasks: 1) Get his candidate to raise a ship load of money and 2) Needle, badger and tweak primary rival Jerry Brown at every turn.

Jaye and South were both doing their best to handle the split-up professionally, and with as little inside vitriol splashing on Newsom as possible. We tried to bait South into talking but he refused to engage.

But as Calbuzz sees it, Newsom’s decision to dump the guy who’s been with him from the beginning of his career, in favor of the guy who has actually won a tough Democratic primary and two governor’s races –- not to mention taking out number of millionaire opponents — suggests Newsom is choosing to forego the all-tweet-all-the-time strategy in favor of a little throwback hardball.

As we noted July 2 , while Brown is sitting on more than $7 million (without actually announcing his candidacy), Newsom has raised just $2.8 million and has only $1.1 million in the bank, despite his legions of Twitter and Facebook fans.

Jaye apparently felt that Newsom could use his online profile to pull an Obama, who shattered all known fundraising records in his presidential bid with a major assist from the web. Fair enough, but that notion ignores the fact that before he was Lord of the Internets, Obama was an old school Chicago pol, with guys like David Axelrod locking him up to dial for dollars and running him through countless fundraisers so that in the year before the election he outraised Hillary Clinton the old fashioned way.

That’s what Newsom must to do to become more than a San Francisco boutique candidate. Brown’s long record and saturation name ID, for better or worse, presents a formidable obstacle for a rookie candidate, and Newsom needs to find a way to gain a financial and tactical edge on General Jerry.

(Aside: We were reminded of the decision made by former Gov. Pete Wilson in September 1995 when he picked Craig Fuller, an old Bush Sr. hand, to manage his presidential campaign over George Gorton, his friend and campaign strategist for 25 years. Gorton had never run a national campaign.)

Democratic primaries are all about capturing the party’s left-wing, and over at Calitics, our liberal friends fretted that losing Jaye, with his back-to-the-roots connection to Newsom and his progressive politics, is worrisome for the San Francisco mayor’s chances.

“South has a history with the radical moderates over at the Democratic Leadership Council, and that’s how he won with Davis,” wrote the estimable Brian Leubitz. “He talked ToughOnCrime ™, business, and all that jive. And it won him the 1998 election.

“But California is in a very different place today than it was then. If Garry South is going to be running Newsom’s campaign, he’ll have to update his strategy. It didn’t work with Steve Westly, and it won’t fare much better now.”

This is fuzzy thinking. Newsom’s first challenge is to beat Brown in a Democratic primary. So why in that context, would South even try to position Newsom to the right of the Attorney General?

Newsom and South are going to have to run a two track campaign: extolling the alleged wonders of San Francisco while ripping Brown’s record — as a governor, mayor, attorney general, state party chairman and the other 173 offices he’s held –- up one side and down the other. This is what South knows how to do, and is very, very good at. And it’s the pathway that Newsom has now chosen as his longtime friend and adviser leaves the field.

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

Saturday Swap Meet: Jacko, Farrah & Ed, RIP

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

sanfordThat was the week that was: We’ll leave to more talented social commentators the task of weaving together the sad, always-happens-in-threes departures of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, and focus instead on another crossover entertainer who seared himself into the nation’s consciousness with a breakthrough performance this week: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

As everyone who’s watched Sanford’s narcissistic, nihilistic, nut ball performance in confessing to an Argentine love affair already knows (anyone who hasn’t is banned from reading further until you do ), the guy flat-out retired the Loony Tunes Lifetime Achievement Award with an excruciating, stream of consciousness, political-train-wreck-in-public act.

Between his opening incoherence – “I won’t begin in any particular spot” – his self-pitying Andrew Lloyd Webber knockoff – “oddly enough, I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina” – and his extraordinary explanation of how he’d violated moral law – “the biggest self of self is indeed self” – Sanford managed the seemingly impossible feat of mmariaaking Rod Blagoevich and Sarah Palin seem like Ozzie and Harriet.

(Calbuzz finds it fascinating that Sanford’s Argentine lover,  María Belén Chapur, was a producer at the television network America from 2001 to 2002 — kinda reminds us of LA Mayor Tony V’s fixation on TV babes.)

Oh sure, between eMeg, Prince Gavin and General Jerry, our own field of candidates for governor includes a few eccentricities and some borderline weirdness. But Calbuzz feels a profound sense of journalistic injustice at being denied the career peak experience of covering a total whack job like Sanford.

In our view, the only decent thing for Sanford to do — with just 18 months left in his term, Palmetto State legislators screaming for his head and almost a year to go before California’s primary — is to move to the left coast and jump into the Republican primary with twin barrels aimed at both feet. Please, governor, you’re the only one who can save us from the earnestness of Tom Campbell, the grumpiness of Steve Poizner and the unctuousness of Meg Whitman. Plus: great connections to BA from LAX.

BTW, the Sanford saga produced some yeoperson efforts by the ladies and gentleman of the press. Top honors in the print category go to the San Jose Mercury News for a keeper front page, carefully crafted for single copy sales, which featured a big foto of the wild man and a red, screamer hed: “What Was He Thinking?” Online division kudos to the Washpost for its special, Sanford edition slide show titled: “Interactive: A history of political sex scandals.” Interactive? Really?

Don’t Invitems: Capitol Weekly and the Bay Area Council went head-to-head twice within a few days over the former’s coverage of the latter’s proposal for a constitutional convention.

The first flap focused on a Weekly piece published Monday, in which Malcolm Maclachlan reported that the council was circulating a draft convention call that would bar changes to Proposition 13. When we checked out the report, Council execs grumbled that the Weekly had overreached in its sweeping assertion. Because the Calbuzzer motto is, “We’re from the press – we’re here to help,” we offered our own report that addressed the nuances of the council’s position on the complex issue, ever eager to heal a breach between two organizations we respect.

Then on Thursday, Maclachlan filed again, this time reporting that the Council was moving to “hand off” the campaign for a convention to an independent third party. At this, council vice president John Grubb let his feelings show – hollering “foul” and loudly demanding a correction.

At issue in the new dispute is a report about a panel of “experts” that the Council plans to convene for the purpose of wording and framing the exact questions that convention delegates would consider; the language this panel will draft is to be included in the “call to convention” initiative BAC is aiming at the November 2010 ballot.

The Weekly story suggests the “experts” panel gives the council a pass-the-buck way to escape the political heat they’re getting from anti-tax groups threatening to oppose the convention if it tackles Prop. 13. Not so, insists Grubb, who told us the “experts” panel has been part of the plan all along, and that the Council fully intends to remain the lead dog on the constitutional convention campaign.

“It was kind of weird to have your obituary written,” Grubb said of the latest Weekly story, “without having participated in your death.”

Anthony York, the editor of the Weekly, told us he’s confident the story is factually accurate, but “understands (Grubb’s) sensitivity” to the suggestion the council is ceding control of the convention process. York called it “a semantic difference” and said he’s invited Grubb to submit a letter or a commentary addressing his concerns.

Putting aside the journalistic subtleties here, the crucial substantive  issue is how and whether the convention deals with Prop. 13. Whatever your favorite cliché for the tax-cut measure – political third rail, elephant in the room, the Big Enchilada – trying to revise California’s system of governance without dealing with the multiple strands of Prop. 13 is like trying to blog without links; it kinda’ misses the point.

dianne_feinstein

Dissin’ Dianne: Back in the day, when she was Empress of San Francisco, Sen. Dianne Feinstein once chewed out a Chronicle reporter for running a scoop that disclosed a draft plan for a new ballpark that Her Honor wasn’t yet ready to make public: “I don’t want any more premature ejaculations in the paper,” she told him angrily, promptly generating a follow-up story that prominently featured her lovely comment.

The old quote came to mind this week, when DiFi again got in trouble for being candid with a reporter, this time on a Sunday talk show, where she threw cold water on President Obama’s big health care reform plan: “Well, to be candid with you, I don’t know that he has the votes right now,” she told CNN’s John King. “I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.”

Damn that candor.

It didn’t take long for the armies of the netroots to launch a full-scale attack, led by Moveon.org, which rallied its members to swamp her office with calls assailing her for politically incorrect (for a Democrat) thought. By week’s end, as David “Comrade” Dayen reported on Calitics ,  Moveon and its coalition had organized a full-bore, multi-platform assault.

With an arsenal of Facebook, Twitter and My Space weapons arrayed against her, Feinstein responded with a throwback press release featuring a laundry list of principles she would support in health care . The techno mismatch of the fight between an old-school pol and new generation social network forces was fascinating to behold – who knew from one-click re-Tweets? – and made us start to wonder if maybe Dan Schnur might be on to something with his out-of-right-field prediction in a L.A. Times op-ed: “Feinstein is an unlikely candidate for re-election in 2012.”

Wussup on the internets: Mega-kudos to Nikki Finke, who sold her DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com site for a reported $14 million , which establishes a decent enough price floor for when it comes time to unload Calbuzz in a month or so (why of course, Tom Campbell will drive more traffic than Jacko!). Don’t miss Finke’s post-sale grilling by arch-rival Sharon Waxman, who runs The Wrap.

In other internets news, the Public Policy Institute of California has an interesting new survey on digital usage in the state, including a full and frank examination of the 12 people who actually use Twitter. Key finding: internet use has increased from 70 to 76 percent over the past year (clearly due almost entirely to the launch of Calbuzz).

Must read of the week: “California to Feds: Drop Dead,” Joe Mathews’s terrific piece over at Fox and Hounds analyzing the chutzpah of Obama et al in refusing loan guarantees for California.

Finally, we note Kevin Roderick’s classy tribute to TMZ for their ace online reporting on Michael Jackson’s death — which killed the traditional media in LA.