Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Sexism Rears Its Ugly Head in Gubernatorial Race

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    California Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown gestures while speaking during a news conference.

    With the state economy still in the doldrums, with lawmakers in Sacramento just agreeing to a budget more than three months after the Constitutional deadline, with the state suffering the nation’s third-highest jobless rate, there are real issues to be discussed in California’s gubernatorial race.

    Instead, we're talking about Jerry Brown's sexism problem.

    Is that wrong? Maybe not. The past two weeks, coverage of the contest between Whitman and Brown has been primarily focused on the Republican’s former domestic help. So fairness dictates that at least a few days of coverage go to Brown’s sexism problem.

    But it seems like lots of journalists are willing to give Brown a pass.

    If the sexist slur were uttered against Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (or even illegal immigrant Nicky Diaz Santillan), no doubt much of California’s political media would be in high dudgeon.

    But because it was Republican gubernatorial candidate Whitman who was called a "whore" by a campaign aide of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brown, barely a discouraging word has been heard from the legion of reporters and opinion writers covering the Golden State’s gubernatorial race.

    Why is that? I believe it's because most of the journos assigned to the race prefer Democrat Brown to Republican Whitman – although they would never dream of admitting that to their readers, listeners and viewers.

    That’s why the overblown story about Whitman’s former $47,000-a-year illegal immigrant housekeeper has gotten saturation coverage in the California media.

    That’s why the story that a Brown campaign aide called Whitman a “whore” in Brown’s presence, and with no rebuke whatsoever from the supposedly progressive Democrat, won’t rate even one-tenth the coverage.

    Of course, the story broke yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, which dutifully reported it. It was hard for California’s largest paper to do otherwise since it was given a tape of the conversation by an official with the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

    According to the Times, the slur against Whitman came after Brown called the League last month to seek its endorsement. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate left a voicemail asking a union official to call him back, unwittingly thinking he had hung up the phone.

    The voicemail captured the ensuing conversation between Brown and his campaign staff, including the comment about Whitman, likening the former CEO of eBay to a common street walker.

    Whitman's Maidgate received its 15 minutes. Brown's Whoregate should, too.