During a widely anticipated Fox News interview on Monday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom and host Sean Hannity unexpectedly argued over San Francisco and on Newsom’s term as Mayor there, with Newsom ending up making questionable, unsubstantiated statements about the city as a result.
The Newsom-Hannity interview became one of the most anticipated nationwide political interviews of the year so far since it was first announced several weeks ago. While Newsom has given plenty of interviews before, he has not given a Fox News interview since 2010 when he was still the Mayor of San Francisco. At the same time, Fox News, known for leaning conservative, has received a mix of Republican and Democrat lawmakers for interviews about par with other major networks like CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS, making the Newsom holdout appear especially glaring.
As the Globe noted earlier today, the Hannity-Newsom interview covered a wide variety of topics, but with Newsom saying that he “owned” several major issues, without elaborating on if the issues were wrong, if they were regrettable, or what role he had in them. While some direct questions were answered, with Newsom saying that he was behind President Joe Biden and that he thought he was cognitively strong to be president, he wouldn’t answer others, including how many times a day people were asking him to run for President next year. Other times, Newsom defended things he helped bring about, like California’s 13.3% income tax rate, by saying that he later opposed efforts to make it higher.
“I’ve never been a profligate Democrat. I’ve balanced budgets. We make the hard choices. I’m a business guy,” Newsom said.
However, both Newsom and Hannity were at their most passionate when Newsom’s past as Mayor of San Francisco was brought up, rivaling the times during the night that Florida or California’s population loss was brought up. It began during a part of the interview when California’s homeless crisis was brought up, with Hannity playing a clip of Newsom from 2008 when he was Mayor of San Francisco announcing his new homeless plan. Hannity asked why that failed and, how 15 years later, California still hasn’t improved. Newsom fired back that costs, especially in San Francisco, were too high, that there have been regulatory issues, and that people within the state have been fighting against low-income housing. Newsom also falsely claimed that a record number of homeless people in California were actually there under Republican leadership in the 2000’s despite facts showing this to be false.
“This state has not made progress in the last two decades as it relates to homelessness because housing costs are too high, our regulatory thickets are too problematic, localism has been too impactful – meaning people locally are pushing back against new housing starts and construction,” added Newsom. “I’ve been here four years. I can’t make up for the fact that in 2005 we had a historic number of homeless under a Republican administration.”
Newsom and Hannity then got very specific to issues within San Francisco, even bringing up the recent closure of a Whole Foods. Despite Whole Foods saying that the reason for the closure was due to high crime and safety concerns, Newsom severely downplayed the closure, saying it had just been a bad location. He even brought up that a new location was coming despite no evidence showing that was true.
“I don’t like the bashing of my old city, San Francisco,” said the Governor. “Whole Foods did shut down one business, but it was a bad location to begin with, and they’re opening a new one.”
Newsom, Hannity spar in latest interview
Hannity then continued to press Newsom on the safety situation in the city, saying that “My sister was out there recently with a team, and I said don’t go to the wharf.”
Newsom then quickly interrupted him, quickly noting that Newsom was quickly trying to rectify the situation there by using state resources, including recently sending the state National Guard and California Highway Patrol officers to the city to help.
“Certain parts are bad, and we own that,” explained Newsom. “I just put the National Guard and California Highway Patrol there. We need to use law enforcement resources and personnel to crack down on crime linked to the fentanyl crisis.”
When pressed further on any police defunding efforts in San Francisco, Newsom quickly jumped in again, quickly saying “Don’t accuse me of that. I’ve never been part of that.”
While a part 2 of the interview is coming later this week, the Monday portion of the interview brought a cool reception to many in the city, as Newsom blatantly navigated around the San Francisco issues brought up, especially regarding crime and homelessness.
“He was avoiding any kind of personal blame for the problems here,” Frank Ma, a former law enforcement officer and security consultant in the Bay area, told the Globe Tuesday. “It should not have been a surprise really, but he was making claims and trying to absolve himself from having been a part of making the city so susceptible to crime and homelessness. I mean, it was his plans that really led the city down a dark path, but during the interview he said the problem was worse under Schwarzenegger. Forget about facts, anyone here with a functioning pair of eyes who has been around here for a while knows how wrong that is.”
“He was wrong about us all night. Ok, he was right in saying that he sent the Highway Patrol and the National Guard here, but they were to solve problems he helped create. When he said that Whole Foods was looking at another place though, I actually laughed. There is no way another one is coming to the city after what happened to the other.. All in all, typical Newsom.”
Part 2 of the interview is due to be released soon.
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