Jerry Brown takes on Washington Times reporter


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Gov. Jerry Brown tangled with a reporter from the conservative Washington Times newspaper after his meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday.

At one point Brown, who was defending his earlier tenure as governor and his efforts to bridge the state’s budget gap, asked the reporter: “Are you a Moonie?”


The Washington Times was founded in 1982 by Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church, whose followers were often referred to informally as Moonies.

The Washington Times is a conservative paper, and Brown, after recognizing his interrogator, gave no ground. Brown’s spokesman Gil Duran joined in the fray, repeatedly calling the reporter, Kerry Picket, a liar.

You can read a transcript of the exchange after the jump.

Reporter: Gov. Brown, you’ve gotten criticism that you’ve ceded… Brown: I’ve gotten criticism? Only from the Washington Times…

Reporter: I understand that you’ve gotten some criticism that you’ve ceded way too much to the unions.

Brown: Give me an example.

Reporter: As far as the education, teachers unions, and just as far as some of the contracts that have been negotiated, that you could be making the same mistake that you made in your last administration...

Brown: Which one was that?

Reporter: … Back in the day.

Brown: When California had a $6-billion surplus and was leading America, if not the world, in many different fields?

Reporter: Well, right now it’s going bankrupt.

Brown: That’s untrue. I’ve reduced the deficit that was left to me by a Republican governor from $26 billion to $9 billion and I have a plan to reduce it to zero.


Reporter: So you’re saying that the reason that California is going bankrupt is...

Brown: No, that’s not true. We’re going far. I mean, we’re doing quite well.

Duran: You need to ask a question that’s based on the truth.

Brown (to Duran): You don’t have to argue with her…

Duran: No, S&P just upgraded to positive. That’s not bankrupt.

Reporter: No, actually, because when Reagan came in later on, things actually changed.

Brown: No, Reagan came before me. Reagan came after my father and then I came after Reagan.

Reporter: And then you actually lost your term thereafter, no?

Brown: No, I’m the only Democratic governor in history to serve three terms. In fact only two governors have ever served a third term.

Reporter: So why is it then, that we’re seeing from the bankruptcy though...

Duran: There is no bankruptcy. That’s a lie. You’re lying.

Brown: California has a $2-trillion economy.

Reporter: Why am I a liar?

Brown: Last year… Are you a Moonie by any chance?

Reporter: Sir…

Duran: And your facts are totally wrong. I can prove it to you.

Brown: Because your incisiveness is kind of suspect. Anyway. California, the economy is doing better, it’s coming back. The private economy added $90 billion, and that feeds into the public sector as well. There are deficits because there’s been excesses in the last decade, brought on principally by the mortgage bubble and breakdown. And we’re now cleaning up after that mess. It does take a while to do that. I’d say we’re on a very positive course. Not as rapid as I would like, but the trajectory is all in the right direction.

Reporter: Thank you, sir.


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-- Anthony York in Washington