Friday, February 11, 2011

Jerry Brown and (our sad version of) the press corps

David Siders posted this news item at Sacbee Capitol Alert, Jerry Bown boards alone, turns heads on Southwest 02/10/2011:

In his first public appearance outside Sacramento since taking office, Gov. Jerry Brown this morning boarded a Southwest Airlines flight for Burbank, then spent the hour in flight talking about prisons with a corrections employee who happened to sit beside him.

"Are you the governor?" she said when she sat down.

Brown opened his reading material, "Parole Review Briefing Binder," on the tray between them and pointed to it while they talked. The woman, Tianne Rios, asked for an autograph when the plane landed, and Brown obliged.

The governor boarded with the public at Sacramento International Airport, holding ticket No. A16 and sitting in an aisle seat in the third row. He was seemingly unaccompanied by security and said he was traveling alone. He ordered coffee, black.

His presence on the plane turned heads.
Mark Pinkus, a Rhino Records executive who sat two rows behind Brown, complimented his use of a discount airline. But he said, "I would have thought he would have more security, a handler?"

Some passersby shook Brown's hand while boarding. One man said, "Good luck at the chamber today." Brown is speaking tonight at a dinner hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Across from Brown in the airplane sat Dimitri Ignatieff, who was heading to Los Angeles for a hearing on the impact of Brown's proposed budget cuts on public safety. Ignatieff, a program analyst for drug court programs, said he "kind of did a double take" when Brown boarded.

"He's got his work cut out for him," he said. "That's for certain."
This article is interesting, though not for its content as such; it's pure celebrity reporting. But it's a good example of how Jerry can get a message to the public despite the dysfunction of the press.

I don't know if anyone from his office specifically pointed out to the press how he was flying to Sacramento to Los Angeles, i.e., with a regular ticket on Southwest, which doesn't have a first class section or even reserved seats. That's the kind of symbolic gesture that resonates with most voters, similar to his well-publicized drive to cut the number of state-payed mobile phones in half and his mandated reduction of the state vehicle fleet.

I don't know David Siders. But we've seen signs already that the state press is irritated that Jerry doesn't pander and preen for them like his predecessor did. It's easy to imagine that reporters are jealous that just regular people on the plane got to speak to Brown instead of them being invited along on the trip for exclusive "access".

On a 2/11 appearance on a local morning TV program, Good Day LA, FOX affiliate interviewers asked him about his flight without an "entourage". (The video isn't up at the website as of this writing.) He said, "I kind of consider the people my entourage." And he pointed out something that normally does not occur to star journalists and those who aspire to be such, which is that there are elaborate security measures in place at airports that provide an "entourage" for everybody on the flights. He went on to point out that entourages for government officials are not only for security, but also to project power: "something of an illusion" which he observed is "sometimes important".

Jerry isn't mystified by the trappings of power, his or that of others. And that doesn't compute at all with a lot of reporters.

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