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Meg Whitman's odd press strategy

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism from her Republican primary opponent -- state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner -- for ducking debates and non-choreographed media appearances in her run for the California governorship.

Yesterday at an event in Oakland, Whitman handed Poizner considerable fodder to make that case -- refusing to take questions and then watching as reporters were moved out of the room and some sort of blockade was put in place so the cameras couldn't shoot film of Whitman standing around. (You must watch the video above; it is b-r-u-t-a-l.)

Of the back and forth, San Fransciso Chronicle veteran political reporter Carla Marinucci wrote:

"Veteran reporters, who included KTVU's Randy Shandobil and KPIX's Hank Plante, were among the crowd that wasn't amused. Question: is Whitman a candidate for governor, or a museum piece to be 'watched' by reporters?"


While the press (and video) that emerged from the event in Oakland is a bad story for Whitman, it is not necessarily as big an issue as Poizner is sure to play it.

First, California is the furthest thing in the world from a retail state. Unlike Iowa or New Hampshire, voters -- even in a Republican primary -- don't expect to "kick the tires" of the candidates. The primary mode of communication is the television ad -- of which Whitman will run lots (and lots) of before the June primary is over. So, Whitman isn't likely to face the voter blowback she might if she was running for governor of, say, South Carolina.

Second, California voters are disengaged from politics. Much of that disengagement has to do with the sheer size of the state; voters in northern California and voters in southern California don't have all that much in common and the issues that they care about vary widely. The sheer size of the state also leads to a fractured media environment and only the vaguest sense among voters about who their representatives are and who is running for what offices.

All that does not mean, however, that Whitman's press shyness -- to put it kindly -- is a non-issue. The danger for Whitman is that her aversion to taking questions in non-controlled situations becomes part of a broader narrative (that Poizner is trying to build) that she is simply trying to buy the race without ever really engaging with voters.

California politics is littered with wealthy candidates who spent millions of their own money but were unable to connect with average voters. (See Checchi, Al) Whitman runs the risk of being lumped into that ignominious category if this story grows legs and become a broader thematic heading into the June primary.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 10, 2010; 11:42 AM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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Next: What Marco Rubio's TV ad tells us about 2010



Meg previously presided over the world’s most amoral, unethical, disingenuous, unscrupulous, indeed criminal, organisation—eBay, that is. With the standard of ethics that she displayed whilst running eBay, the mind boggles at what she could do with the governorship of the state of California.

With Meg as Governor, the “eBafia” (and who knows who else) will undoubtedly be able to carry on facilitating criminal frauds on the whole world with even less risk of some competent authority ever shining a light under this slimy rock.

Why then is ‘Noise’ Donahoe still trying to destroy eBay? Because these are apparently the only instructions ‘Could be an Evil Monster’ Meg left for him.

If you want a laugh or a cry (whatever moves you), take a look at this recent video of an interview with this clumsy, inarticulate, chimpanzee (the hand language tells it all) at

How did “Dr Death” Donahoe MBA ever get to be CEO of a listed public company? She, who is “rich and tired” but still aspires to be Governor of California, hand picked him; he’s Meg’s protégé! Donahoe is the totally incompetent buffoon who undoubtedly will go down in US corporate history as the idiot who actually did “kill the golden goose”. The latest PR spin:

From a buyer’s point of view, the full ugly story of eBay, and proof of eBay’s criminality, at

But, seriously, if Meg cannot even get someone to fix the doubling of line endings on her blog’s readers’ comments, what chance is there that she will be able to fix any of California’s problems?

Spin, Meg, spin. And good luck California—if Meg wins, plenty of that is what you will undoubtedly need!

PS: How come Meg’s idiot-child protégé, ‘Noise’ Donahoe, did not make it into Meg’s latest TV commercial that features all the other anonymous eBay-connected stooges? And, couldn’t they find anyone outside of the “eBafia” to give her a reference? Have a look at if you want the opinions of eBay staff about this incompetent, unscrupulous eBafia Don and his team of fellow dysfunctional executive managers that Meg gifted us.

Posted by: PhilipCohen | March 12, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Meg should auction off her answers and have campaign donors send in their contributions via PayPal!

Posted by: jgmann | March 11, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Meg is a fraud. She's running on cutting school funding and weeding out Cadillac Queen welfare 'generosity'.

California rank in currently funding it's students is 47th nationally. Mother's who sign up for AFDC (aid to families with dependent children) can only get a 5 year lifetime benefit.

Honestly this reporters view of California is not accurate either. North & South state want the never ending budget problems fixed, except republicans want it all to come out of spending. Democrats want a mix of added revenue & spending cuts. With a 67% supermajority needed in the legislature, Republicans have been able to say stymie any resolution that isn't republican.

You want to know what will happen to the US Federal government if the current republican policy of refusing to govern will be? Just look at what California is having to live through right now. It's ugly.

Posted by: kindness1 | March 11, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't think for a minute this Meg Whitman stuff doesn't reach the streets. Your column on it is proof positive that today, all politics is viral.

BTW Meg Whitman did't bother to vote until age 46.

Posted by: maineside | March 11, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Disengaged...due to the sheer size of the state..." and because of "fractured" media!!! Gimme a break. Remember Tip O'Neil's all politics are local. Californians are now getting the government they deserve.

Posted by: richard50 | March 11, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman's problem has a SIMPLE SOLUTION -

and why her staff messed this one up, I will never know.





Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

What an absolute goddamn dope you are, posting the same idiotic screed dozens of times, now for the third Fay running. Your need for attention has the dimensions of of psychopathology.

Criminal defendants get lawyers. That is at the very foundation of our law. You are a goddamn meth addict with no connection to humanity or reality.

Posted by: Noacoler | March 10, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Al Queda is VERY WELL KNOWN for using multiple bomb plots - and multiple planes in its attacks.

So, instead of questioning the Detroit bomber on the possibility of additional bombs, Obama gives the terrorists a lawyer.

We have to wait 5 weeks for any intelligence.



This is not an impeachable offense ??? Yes it is.


Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Whitman is obviously imperious.

Posted by: republican_disaster | March 10, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

And how far removed is Whitman's "press strategy" from President Obama's? Just sayin'...


And here's a bulletin, in case you haven't heard:

A microwave/laser directed energy weapon system, mounted on cell towers nationwide, is being used by a covert security/intel/law enforcement multi-agency program to silently attack, torture and impair Americans "targeted" as dissidents or undesirables. A veteran journalist's expose here: "U.S. Silently Targets Americans with Cell Tower Microwaves"

Is President Obama a "target?" See "comments" section to article, above.

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 10, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Loud and Dumb now has a record two years without an intelligent thought ruminating in his poor little empty skull.

for liberals this is not that unusual. Dribbl holds the Fix record at three years and counting.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Al Queda is VERY WELL KNOWN for using multiple bomb plots - and multiple planes in its attacks."

Interesting. Ace McNumbnuts uses the same approach with screen names in his attacks.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 10, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

From a fact sheet on Obama's campaign website (PDF link): Obama’s plan will save a typical family up to $2,500 on premiums by bringing the health care system into the 21st century: cutting waste, improving technology, expanding coverage to all Americans, and paying for some high-cost cases. However, the CBO just produced this analysis of the senate health care bill (another PDF link) which concludes that the Senate health care bill will raise the average family's health care premiums by $2,300.

Poor liberals. confusing a minus with a plus again. Barry, step away from the math. Last week he mixed up a trillion with a billion and ten years with 20 years.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hints that she has the votes to push health care reform through the House. This is not unfathomable, considering that there are some 18 Democratic ''no'' votes from last time that are still in contention to switch to ''yes.'' Except that Pelosi's deputy, Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said yesterday he hasn't started counting yet.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Washington - Two weeks after promising to check on the matter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs still did not have an answer to the charge by former Navy admiral and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak that the Obama administration offered him a job in exchange for abandoning his primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.). On Tuesday, Major Garret of Fox News asked Gibbs about Specter's comments that Sestak needs to prove his claim and that the accusation is ''hurting the White House, damaging its reputation.''

can you imagine if Barry ever comes out of hiding and answers any actual pertinent questions from the press. free beer all around. stock prices on teleprompters soar.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"Northern and Southern Californians do agree on many issues, in fact, the relatively minor divide is more likely to be about coastal and inland issues."

CC is not from the West Coast, that is for sure. A coastal/inland divide exists in all three states, it is real and though this person says it is minor in Cali, that is not what I have read. Certainly in Oregon and Washington, the Eastern and Western parts of the states are estranged.

On the West Coast, North/South issues are truly minor.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 10, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DDAWD | March 10, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Fourth stooge makes another flailing attempt.

I think flailing attempt probably describes your academic progress as well.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Ms. Whitman, Ms. Whitman, if you were a no-life Fix poster, which no-life Fix poster would you be? Drivl/zouk/moonbat/doof/ace McNumbnuts, 37th, or joked?

Posted by: koolkat_1960"

It would have to be zook and alteregos, no? 37th and jaked are actually able to respond and hold back-and-forths. Zook doesn't seem to be able to do that which is why, even among the right wingers, he comes across as just a step above the armpegs of the world.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 10, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Governor Moonbeam got that nickname - in part - because he PREDICTED that someday there would be satellites which beam pictures of clouds down to Earth for the purpose of weather forecasting.

At the time, everyone thought he was nuts.

NOW, everyone watches those pictures everyday on tv, and those pictures are available, IN REAL TIME, to everyone on their desktops.


What I have to say about this:

First, Governor Moonbeam is OLD.

Next Governor Moonbeam is still COOL.

He is going to win - good for him.


Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Al Queda is VERY WELL KNOWN for using multiple bomb plots - and multiple planes in its attacks.

So, instead of questioning the Detroit bomber on the possibility of additional bombs, Obama gives the terrorists a lawyer.

We have to wait 5 weeks for any intelligence.



This is not an impeachable offense ??? Yes it is.


Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

wow, dribbl, that is sagacious. It must have taken you hours of research to find that thought. Even Loud and Dumb seems smart compared to you.

did you finish handing out the fliers already? I am so happy you are back to "work".

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This is all brilliant strategy, building demand for access. Then the press will go to eBay and bid for the right to ask a question. Brilliant, I tell ya . . .

Posted by: optimyst | March 10, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Poor drivl -- you really should take your ADD medicine, McNumbnuts. The topic is Whitman, not Obama.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 10, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Whitman is just as big a loser as every other repug. She's just a more miserable. candidate than most.

Posted by: drindl | March 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

GOP: Better hope Tom Campbell wins his primary ... or else it's Gov. Brown again.

Posted by: Route1 | March 10, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Northern and Southern Californians do agree on many issues, in fact, the relatively minor divide is more likely to be about coastal and inland issues. We all agree that we are already tired of Meg Whitman. She clearly will be a footnote that was a boon to local advertising revenues in 2010.

Posted by: NeoMOL | March 10, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Good call bsimon, when even our resident Hoya declares Governor Moonbeam the winner, Poizner beating Whitman will just be an ugly show, the kind we like.

The other lesson from Cali today, as if we didn't already know, is, mothers don't let your children grow up to be stars, Jodi Foster being a notable exception.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"Another on-camera political implosion."

If Poizner capitalizes & beats Whitman, the next question is: is a year when one of your state's major insurers jacks up rates by 38% a good one in which to jump from insurance commissioner to governor?

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 10, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Hopey Change didn't have much of a shelf life. In Europe, they're already writing the Moonbat Messiah's political epitaph:

The descent of Barack Obama's regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons. …15 million Americans, or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands [and likely to get worse]. The once mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr Obama's own city of Chicago is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician — a Democrat and a supporter of the President — told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity.

That's probably because drug dealing is about the only commercial activity that hasn't been paralyzed by overtaxation and hyper-regulation inflicted by the monstrously bloated government personified by Chairman Zero, whose irresponsibility with our money has been obscene.

Clinton survived costing his party control of Congress. But Comrade Obama might not be so lucky.

His lack of experience, his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of Americans all handicap him heavily.
The lesson drawn from across the pond:

Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern.

To anyone who drank the Kool-Aid and voted for this washout, I hate to say I told you so, but…

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It took Loud and Dumb over a week to come up with that. I think your outpatient program may need some assistance, it is not helping.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I remember this guy, served 2 terms as governor of California, that used to smile and wave as he stepped into a helicopter. NO questions.

Whatever became of that guy?

Posted by: mattintx | March 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

With moonbats, everything is ersatz — pleather instead of leather, Tofurky on Thanksgiving, and now this: artificial "environmentally friendly" Easter eggs at the White House.

A White House announcement Monday said the eggs at this year's April 5 roll will be made from paperboard that contains no wood fibers from endangered forests, is recyclable and features vegetable-oil based inks and a water-based coating.
Apparently it never occurred to the weenies in charge of eco-compliance at the White House that real eggs are biodegradable and contain "no wood fibers from endangered forests."

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse


Obama does it all the time - just because the press is there, that doesn't mean it's questions.

This is more about the press than the people.

That is where the press is in error - they think it is about THEM - it's not.


Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Whitman, Ms. Whitman, if you were a no-life Fix poster, which no-life Fix poster would you be? Drivl/zouk/moonbat/doof/ace McNumbnuts, 37th, or joked?

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 10, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh my goodness. Whether she's too afraid or just too private to speak to the people, that doesn't strike me as someone who is qualified to be governor.

Posted by: paul65 | March 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

For 37thandOstreet: It's one thing to not have a press event, it's another to invite the press to an event and then say--oops--we're not going to take questions. She was looking for free B roll from TV stations as she met with railroad people. Instead, she got embarrassed. The woman is obviously not ready for prime time.

Posted by: jhpurdy | March 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The failure of Obama's appeasement was understood in the region. Editor Michael Young asked in his Beirut Star,

"Just what does Barack Obama stand for?" His answer: "The Assad regime's abuse of its own population, Syrian involvement in myriad bombings in Iraq, support for Iraqi Baathists, and its permissiveness toward Al-Qaeda in Iraq have not made the Administration reconsider its Syrian opening. Violence works, and Obama has not proven otherwise. The Obama Administration these days provokes little confidence in its allies, and even less fear in its adversaries"

The president of Brazil told Mrs. Clinton that his country would not "bow" to demands for sanctions against Iran. He suggested that it would be "prudent" to instead pursue negotiations. As in the Middle East, Obama "provokes little confidence" among our traditional good-neighbor allies.

Last week, Obama did nothing to prevent a symbolic 23-to-22 vote in a House of Representatives committee for a resolution labeling as "genocide" Turkish massacres of Armenians during World War I.

his inaction on the genocide resolution provoked this blast from Ankara:

This decision, which could adversely affect our co-operation on a wide common agenda with the U.S., also regrettably attests to a lack of strategic vision

There were reports at week's end that the administration would retreat to seeking diminished sanctions that exempt China and other permanent members of the Security Council from compliance. This would confirm the complete collapse of "engagement." One might call it "diss-engagement," warranting the mockery of Obama's policies echoing from Damascus, Beirut, Brasilia, and even Ankara.

Obumbler, the international joke.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama's Iran policy is collapsing to the accompaniment of open mockery around the globe. Obama assured us that his "engagement" would make it easier to enlist other countries to stop Iran. The result is the opposite: Virtually every country Obama approached has rebuffed him. Without a credible threat of force, it is now clear that "engagement" has no chance to stop Iran's military nuclear program. It is indisputable that Iranian possession of nuclear weapons would destabilize the Mideast and gravely threaten world peace.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

She doesn't want to talk because the two parts of the Republican party in California don't trust her. She has no political record. She is a Silicon Valley fiscal conservative that the true believers in the Central Valley and Southern California don't trust. And the moderates see her running to the right and wonder if she is really in their camp. Poizner isn't much different, but he is a Republican who was elected to a state wide office, so he has some credibility.

Because of California's size and campaigns are run on TV, any party with a contested primary tends to eat their own, and provide the other party with all the oposition research they need. The Democrats did it in 2006 when Arnold should be been out based on performance.

Posted by: detick | March 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"This is a press-manufactured controversy."

You are right, but I do not think this means what you think it means.

Whitman is well on her way to becoming on object of universal loathing by the press. This is deadly, particularly in a state like California. No candidate's spin machine is a match for the press. If the press as a whole decides to frame your candidacy, consider yourself framed. This doesn't happen very often. but Whitman is well on her way.

Quick and old joke. Jesse Jackson and the Pope are on a cruise ship that sinks. They both get into a lifeboat with a bunch of reporters. The wind blows the Pope's hat off into the water. Jesse Jackson gets out of the boat, walks across the water, picks up the Pope's hat and brings it back to him. Next morning, huge headlines -- "JESSE CAN'T SWIM!"

Whitman better be careful, or she won't be able to swim, either.

Posted by: anon99 | March 10, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

When was the last time Obama took questions from the press?

Posted by: 37thand0street

Last July. The result of being off prompter was the totally embarrassing beer summit.

Posted by: drivl | March 10, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

This is a press-manufactured controversy.

OK - she didn't want to take questions today - why is that such a problem ??

Governor Moonbeam is going to win -

Not wanting to take questions everyday - that is not an "odd press strategy"

When was the last time Obama took questions from the press?


Posted by: 37thand0street | March 10, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Another on-camera political implosion.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 10, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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