Although I never dined with all-powerful columnist Walter Winchell at his private table in the Cub Room of the storied Stork Club in Manhattan, I got a flavor of what it must have been like when I dined with Jon Fleischman of the FlashReport at the Fairmont’s restaurant during the convention. The publisher of what is fast becoming the most-read on-line journal of Golden State politics was interrupted repeatedly. Schwarzenegger antagonist Mike Schroeder came by to tell why he didn’t care if the governor was re-elected and he was shortly followed at Fleischman’s table by former Schwarzenegger communications director Rob Stutzman; Republican National Committeewoman Barbara Alby and husband Dennis stopped to pay their respects to the former state GOP executive director, and San Diego delegate Linda Dealy took 20 minutes to give Fleischman her view of the special U.S. House election in her area next month.
Finally, when a candidate for the state Assembly came by, Fleischman had to gently shoo him off. The publisher had to eat and then get moving to be guest of honor at a reception hosted by Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.), who has dubbed Fleischman "the Matt Drudge of California."
What began last year as an early-morning hobby for Fleischman has mushroomed into a political powerhouse. Each day, the man known universally as "Flash" simply posted political articles from more than 60 California publications on his website and sent it to friends. Today, the FlashReport (www.FlashReport.org) includes editorial comment from the publisher and draws thousands of hits from political news junkies daily.
Do politicians pay attention to the FlashReport? You bet they do. When the FlashReport posted early speculation that the governor would name Democrat Susan Kennedy as his top aide, Fleischman’s personal cell phone went off. When he answered, gubernatorial staffer Clay Russell was on the line, asking if he would have a few minutes to speak to Arnold Schwarzenegger.