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No. 82: Capitol Weekly’s Top 100

Illustration by Chris Shary

82. George Skelton

Decades ago, newspaper columnists held heavy sway in politics – note that the “Governor Moonbeam” sobriquet still clings to Jerry Brown, 45 years after Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mike Royko gave him the tag. And, while the days of H.L. Mencken and Westbrook Pegler are long gone, a few scribes continue to carry an outsize influence with their readership and the elected officials they cover. Chief among these – in California at least – is Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton. Terse, wry and caustic by turns, Skelton glares at state political leaders with suspicion. He’s honed his stiletto over decades of watching the Sacramento drama unfold, and he isn’t shy with his opinions – a mandatory quality for a columnist. Gov. Newsom, we’re told, reads Skelton regularly. We wonder what he made of Skelton’s July 12 column, giving Newom a “C” as governor, but rejecting the notion of a recall. “We don’t kick students out of school for a C average…” he wrote. “The C student is likely to stay in school for the rest of the term — and should.”  We’ll soon see if California voters agree with Skelton’s assessment.

Updated Aug. 25, 2021

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