Cavala: Duped Again

Posted on 15 October 2009

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By Bill Cavala
A veteran of over 30 years in Sacramento

Press Corps Takes Seriously The Governor’s Fatuous Threat To Kill Legislation If His Water Package Isn’t Passed.

Will they never learn?   It should be as clear as crystal to the state’s journalists that Governor Schwarzenegger has no felt obligation to tell them the truth.  Instead, he makes comments for effect, using the press corps as witting allies.  He makes for good copy, but taking him seriously does a disservice to the goal of providing readers with – at least – some semblance of the truth.

Did anyone seriously believe the Governor would veto all the legislation on his desk if the Legislature didn’t place a water deal there as well?   For days that was the “story” while the complex pieces of a water package were dealt with as background.  For days the press reported that a deal had to be made by the Governor’s “deadline”.  Well, that was obviously not the case.

But has anyone taken the Governor to task for his latest falsehood?   No.   They accept his explanation that the lawmakers were “close enough” to a deal to allow him to back away from his ultimatum.   Easier to accept that lame statement than to admit you’d been gulled into making him the centerpiece of a story in which he’s actually playing only a small role.

If and when a ‘deal’ is announced, someone should go back over the Governor’s previous statements on water and see how much – if any – of his stated demands are in the final package.  Not that it will matter.  He’ll dismiss what he said ‘then’ as valid ‘then’.  Then he’ll embrace and claim ownership of whatever is put on his desk.

And the press corps will dutifully accept his claim and proclaim it to be a “legacy” victory.

The irony is that voters keep better score of who’s telling (or not telling) the truth than do California’s journalists.   

Schwarzenegger’s current rating of 27% indicates they are on to him.  By this time next year he may well break Gray Davis record and become California’s most disdained Governor. 

By everyone except our star-struck press corps.

Bill Cavala was Deputy Director of the Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services where he worked for over 30 years. He attended undergraduate and graduate school in the 1960’s and received a doctorate in political science at UC Berkeley. He taught political science at UC Berkeley during the 1970's while he worked part-time for the State Assembly.

Cavala left teaching at UC Berkeley for Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1981 until his tenure as Speaker ended in 1995, and he has worked for his five successors as Speaker. He now manages election campaigns for Democratic candidates.