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Jerry Brown, learn to hang up a phone

Brown I wrote earlier this week that Meg Whitman's campaign was doing a terrible job of finding a way out of its immigration flap. Perhaps I misjudged Whitman's stay-the-course strategy as incompetence when it was in fact strategic self-restraint, as if Jerry Brown's guerrilla operation would provide an out.  It did:

In a private conversation that was inadvertently taped by a voicemail machine (audio below), an associate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown can be heard referring to his Republican opponent Meg Whitman as a “whore” for cutting a deal protecting law enforcement pensions as the two candidates competed for police endorsements....

“Do we want to put an ad out? … That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be – that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman will give 'em, will cut them a deal, but I won’t,” Brown said.

At that point, what appears to be a second voice interjects: "What about saying she’s a whore?”

"Well, I'm going to use that," Brown responds. "It proves you've cut a secret deal to protect the pensions."

Anyone who's ever read bestselling campaign postmortems  knows that behind the squeaky-clean image of the candidate lurks legions of potty-mouthed aides who insult the other side on a regular basis; even the pols themselves have been known to (frequently) drop the f-bomb  when they think the mics are off. Shortly after she locked up the GOP nomination, Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina was caught off-air  making fun of incumbent Barbara Boxer's hair. These things happen.

Still, given the circumstances of Whitman having a good shot at being California's first female governor, Brown's campaign should have shown more discipline (even more so since Jerry's sister, Kathleen Brown, vied for the historic first when she ran against Pete Wilson  in 1994). Granted, the offending remarks were made in early September, when Brown didn't enjoy the lead in the polls he has now.  Plus, the Los Angeles Police Protective League's decision to leak this audio a about a month after its recording -- and just as Whitman desperately needed Brown's campaign to struggle with its own October surprise -- raises suspicion. But Brown could have at least admonished his staffer over a poor choice of words instead of saying, "Well, I'm going to use that."

More broadly, the Brown flap says something about our political polarization. Candidates and officeholders speak wistfully about reaching across the aisle (President Obama sincerely tried to early in his term, which annoyed progressives hungry for political revenge), when they and their associates harbor actual contempt for the other side.  Americans didn't collectively decide that stubbornness and red-faced anger would from now on define political discourse; the candidates and campaigns themselves had a lot to do with that.

Let's hope this is the last of the Whitman-Brown gotcha contest. Even before Whitman's immigration scandal broke last week, a race that could have been a substantive exchange of ideas between a seasoned pol and the quintessential California entrepreneur had been anything but. Both have punted on fixing the budget, with Brown restricting himself to raising taxes only with voter approval and Whitman promising to do something about welfare and to fire thousands of public employees. The October surprises provide some glib distractions from what was already a glib campaign.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


Comments () | Archives (22)

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Indiana Quotes

Yikes! Something like this happened to Reagan many years ago and he surged ahead. This could be a problem for Brown.

Brad Gates

"poor choice of words"


How about writing a more accurate description: "inexcusably vile sexist slur"?

Funny how liberals are so tolerant and dismissive of disgusting, bigoted hate speech when it's coming from one of their own.


Almost seems like this is a fabricated recording. Whose voice is it that interjected in the recording? It reminds me of Jimmy Kimmel's segment called "Unecessary censorship." Also, anyone could have interjected any question right there-- so instead of asking, "what about saying she’s a whore?" that person could've asked, "What about saying this is proof of her secret deal cutting to protect the pensions?"

Anyway, people talk in certain contexts all the time, and others who are not privy to the communications take it out of context. No, Jerry doesn't think Meg is a whore.. Nor does she think Jerry is a pimp, lol.


The Brown campaign has an interesting way of apologizing....by minimizing the ugly, sexist comments intended to sexually demean a woman....and refer to them simply as "salty language." The entire situation lends a beautiful view into the true character of Jerry Brown and those who advise him and how they view women...with the use of disdainful language of a dysfunctional, antisocial mysognist.

"This was a jumbled and often inaudible recording of a private conversation," Brown campaign manager Steven Glazer said in a statement. "At times our language was salty. We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended."

Fernando Alvarado

This is just a snap shot of the tone the Jerry Brown campaign has towards the first potential female Governer for our state. Are these the people we want to choose to our state out of our economic turmoil? If he gets elected this would be the same poeple that would fill the all important posts needed to serve in the government. We are fortunate to know now who they really are. Now it is up to us to make the right selection for the future of California. For me, the choice is clear. Meg Whitman is the better candidate.


Hello? Everyone else in this state is suffering a death by a thousand cuts--teachers have been cut, the DMV is closed, streetlights are being shut down, college tuition is through the roof.

Everyone has suffered...except the police unions. They enjoy pensions that royalty only dream about--you can retire at age 50 with 100% of your salary if you're a cop.

The cops told Jerry Brown: "We'll endorse you if you agree to keep our cushy pensions...screw the taxpayers!" Jerry Brown replied : "Sorry, I can't do that. No special deals for ANYONE."

The cops turned to Meg Whitman and offered the same deal. She replied: "I'll do anything to win. Don't worry--we'll kick a few kids out of school or raise taxes to pay for your cushy pensions."

Meg Whitman got the endorsement.

Meg Whitman is just another crooked politician willing to do or say anything to get elected. We can't fix our state if we elect her.

Jerry Brown had the courage to stand for what was right, even when it cost him support. That's the kind of person we need in Sacramento.


I've called the woman a corporate whore, and also referred to Bill Clinton as one. As we all know, a whore is a term that also applies to someone who has sold their soul for something, usually in exchange for power or money.

Meg Whitman IS a political whore. She neglected to vote for decades because for her, it was all about the money and position. She endorsed Barbara Boxer at a time when it was good for her company, and ultimately, her paycheck. You bet that makes her a whore, especially since she admits she never agreed with Boxer politically otherwise.

As a woman, the term is not insulting to me, nor should not be considered an affront to all women, because it was uttered by the aide in context of one specific individual's demonstrated character. It was aptly descriptive, in Whitman's case, from a political context, and not sexist in the least. Any moron knows the context was a political, and not about Whitman's personal sex life, so those of you who are offended, get over yourselves.

Fernando Alvarado

John, you are missing the point. This is about the character of the campaign. They say they used "salty language" I say it was filthy language that is demining to women. Elected officials are always going to make desitions that are unpopular or may seem to support a special inteest at the cost of another special interest. As long as they can live with the desision and justify it to the electorate that is OK. In this case she is protecting the government workers who put their lives on the line for us....literally.

That being said, the point is the Brown people have shown us their true colors. Do you think if Jerry Brown did not think it was wrong he would be appologizing?? Even in the debate he used language that is unbecoming of a Governor. I say we deserve better.

Pasquino Marforio

This conversation simply uncovers the real Jerry Brown, and his circle of advisors, for the sexist elitist they really are.

What is amazing, actually, is the LA Times attempt to provide new sheep clothing when the wolves are already exposed.

Ed Amador

Call a spade a spade - Brown is a SOB, don't you have to be playing politics with the LAPD? Its good to see Whitman
getting a little dirty too. Picking between a corporate whore and a liberal SOB.....I will vote for the liberal SOB
any day of the week


Neosandiego said it best....if you are really in an uproar over this... you must be a moron


It was comment made in regards to her cutting a special interest deal with certain endorsements. She was cutting them in left and right, hence the comment by the aide/assistant. A political whore. It would apply the same way to a man, so don't even bring woman into this issue. It's ridiculous to do so. People assuming it's specifically directed towards woman is sexist in itself, morons.


This is just as stupid and irrelevant an issue as the Whitman nanny story. If either one of these stories motivates you to vote one way or the other, I would ask you to please not vote at all.


So, Brad Gates, liberals and progressives are “tolerant and dismissive of disgusting, bigoted hate speech when it's coming from one of their own.”

We are still waiting for the Tea Party Republicans to admit that there were no death panels and that Obama is not a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya.
During an on the air interview Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said, “Feingold had mentioned that he thought that it would be good if we captured Obama in the battlefield setting and that he suffered the quote-unquote ultimate punishment there," Priebus told reporters while attempting to explain that Sen. Feingold (D-Wis.) was "out of the mainstream" because of his opposition to using capital punishment -- even on Osama bin Laden -- as a tool of the American criminal justice system.
"I find this point that he's made to be completely disgusting. I think it's offensive to the people of Wisconsin, I hope he has an explanation as to why he thinks Obama ought not to be executed and why he thinks we ought to bring Osama bin Laden to the United States that he should be captured alive and actually have a trial.”

A Freudian slip or the ingrained Obama is a Muslim mentality that the libertarian Tea Party has been hyping for the two years?


I think at this point, a leaked private phone conversation made a month ago won't change anybody's mind on who they are going to vote for. Whore is an ugly word to call a woman even if the aide meant corporate whore but Brown didn't say it nor did he condone it. Almost all the races around the country are ugly as hell and California is no exception.

Ann Mere

Not just poor choice of words, poor character on the part of Brown. The more his sleaze machine works, the more certain I am to vote for Whitman.

Carol T.

It's a metaphor. Get over it.

Terry K

Jerry just cleaned Meg's clock. To a veteran editor, a story about Whitman accepting a small bribe from a union isn't worth mentioning. BUT, combined with Jerry calling her a whore, well, that's newsworthy! Talk about knowing how to get the machine working the way you want!

I see Meg isn't denying the bribe.

Meg- if you can't stand in there against an old hardballer, tuck your tail and take your rotten ethics back to the comfort of the board room!

If we can't get someone with impeccable principles, I'll settle for the old mechanic who fixed the machine the last time it was broke!


Name calling is interesting, but why is no one talking about the important issues, like Jerry Brown’s record on judicial appointments? In 1978, the Los Angeles Times wrote that a wide spectrum of judges and lawyers had "concerns about Gov. Brown's judicial appointments--that they are made on the basis of cronyism and lack quality.'' He appointed literally hundreds of soft on crime judges. Evidence admissible in every court in the country became inadmissible in California. Police techniques or activities perfectly legal in the rest of the nation were held to be illegal in our state. Rules of criminal procedure which attempted to balance the defendant’s rights with those of victims, witnesses and jurors were struck down, all to the benefit of criminals. Thousands upon thousands of serious cases went unsolved or unprosecuted in California. As a result, thousands of people who otherwise would have been protected by the criminal justice system became future victims.

Blather On

Jerry, do me a favor and HANG IT UP!

Bill Sweeney

Don't forget what Whitman said in the debate about her expertise on border issues, "I've spent a day there once". Just slightly less time than she's been a Californian!! How reminiscent of Palin's statement about her Russian expertise, "I can see it from my window". Ditch this transplant and give me a REAL Californian, GO JERRY!!!


Jerry Brown is a hateful woman hater and we are all in trouble if he is elected Governor. Hide your wallets!



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