Gov. Newsom returns to help celebrate 5th anniversary of 'The Issue Is'

This week, The Issue Is celebrates our fifth anniversary.

To mark the occasion, FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson is joined, once again, by the show’s very first guest: California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Back in May 2018, Newsom was California’s Lt. Governor and a candidate to replace his then-boss Governor Jerry Brown.

Five years, a failed recall attempt, and a pandemic, later, Newsom is now in his second, and final term as California’s chief executive.

In that time, "The Issue Is" has welcomed more than 300 guests, including Presidents, Vice Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, Senators, Members of Congress, Oscar Winners, Super Bowl Champions, and, our most frequent guest of all, Gloria Allred, with more than two dozen appearances.

In their latest sit-down, Newsom and Michaelson discuss the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the fight against fentanyl, the jockeying already taking place to potentially replace ailing Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Newsom’s possible future Presidential ambitions.

That interview took place at the Beverly Hilton, amid the hustle of the 2023 Milken Institute Global Conference. While there, Michaelson also looked ahead to the 2024 race and more with with the top political minds around, including Democratic Strategist James Carville, ABC News Political Director Rick Klien, Jonathan Martin and Eugene Daniels of Politico, and Nicholas Johnston of Axios.


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It changed my life. I mean, I just flat out I'm a different person…

"I was ignorant beyond words. I didn't know how little I knew about the civil rights movement, about Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, how little I know about this country. I mean, it's hard to put into words when you're standing there, right where Rosa Parks was taken off the bus, you're at that bus stop. You're breathing similar air. And then to understand not that moment where she said 'no,' but the 382 days that came after that with the Montgomery bus boycott. I didn't understand that is fully as I do now, and to be there with my children, to talk about Emmett Till, with my 13-year-old who was paying attention, a 13-year-old paying attention, because Emmett was just 14 when he was taken out of the house at 2:30 in the morning, and to watch my daughter now just asking me questions, calmly listening to the tour guide, that was a game changer. And it stretched their mind and my consciousness and my deeper sense of accountability and responsibility to address what's going on in this country…"


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "They say fear is nothing but False Evidence that Appears Real, so it's in the absence of knowing, yeah, I'm a little fearful, in the absence of evidence to suggest otherwise... I don't think people appreciate how fast it's happening, and it's happening here in our state, and I don't think everyone appreciates that. So we have a unique role and responsibility to answer the anxiety and concern, but also express the productivity optimism.... 

"Here's my biggest concern, though, is that we can tend to overcompensate through neglect and naivete and try to shut something down before we even understand it. So that's the dialectic. I mean, that's the balancing act that we have to go, how do we be nimble and flexible but not overcorrect where we can stifle innovation, imagination, and fundamentally lose our advantage?"


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "When we're asked by both sides, we engage, but we need to be asked by both sides... We can't afford 100 days again, we can't afford the billions of dollars, the loss, the reputational damage. Same time, we can't afford not to acknowledge that the disparities are worse than they were 15 years ago for writers, worse for many folks that are out there that are struggling to make ends meet. And I'm about growth, but I'm also about inclusion. And so we've got to find the right balance, A.I. Played a big part of this, obviously, what's happening with streaming, I'm sensitive to all of that and I'm hoping we land this plane soon because we can't afford another 100 days... We're always here when both parties are at an impasse and need the support of the state…"


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We're doing more than any other state, and the data bears out in terms of the per capita overdose race, we're outperforming many other parts of the country, but it doesn't feel that way when you walk down around on Skid Row or you're near the beach here or you're anywhere in California. This is a real crisis, and we haven't taken it passively. We haven't taken it lightly. We've been way out front. I have had border - for four years - I have sent to the Border, National Guard to help support our efforts on interdiction at the border. I just added another 144 National Guardsmen and women….

"We’ve invested $1,000,000,000 since I've been governor, one billion, on the opioid crisis. I have another 96 million I'm going to be asking from the legislature. Our Naloxone distribution project has literally reversed, through the Naloxone distribution, 130,000 overdoses. But what's happening on the streets requires more intervention, more interdiction, more partnership with the federal government. This is a serious issue. And it's not just fentanyl now, it's this new 'tranq' that will be out on our streets, and we have to, as Democrats, own up to this and we own up what, again, not just in terms of drug treatment, but also we got to be more aggressive on enforcement…"


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Emails, calls, texts. People stopping me. I'm not kidding. This is one of the biggest topics here. It was one of the biggest topics when I was in Alabama…

"It's a hard one for me because I'm so subjective. She's one of my oldest friends, not just political friends. You have to understand where I grew up and you have to understand my history in politics. Dianne Feinstein has been ubiquitous, and it's just hard, it's hard for all of us that have known her and I want her, when she decides what to do and what's in her best interest, what's in the best interest of her health and her family, that she goes out with dignity. And I don't, right now, there's a lot of politics and a lot of folks polluting the political process. I understand what's at stake, but I care about her fundamentally…"


GOV. NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Two reasons. One, it invites more of those editorials. I'm not naive…

"And I don't want to use the word 'pisses people off' as the phrase, but I just did, it does. Understandably, it's like, 'hey, I hired you to be Governor, look at the streets, buddy. What have you done about encampments? I still can't afford a home. What are you doing about that?' So I understand that. And that's my focus. And that's where my energy is…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to