Gov. Newsom talks new book, dyslexia, crime, and COVID on “The Issue Is”

It’s been quite a year for California Governor Gavin Newsom.

First, there was the recall effort. A host of candidates, from Larry Elder to Caitlyn Jenner, jockeying to remove and replace Newsom in the Governor’s Mansion. After months of campaigning, Newsom would defeat the recall by nearly the exact margin, roughly 23%, he won by in 2018.

There was the on-going pandemic. Amid the discovery of new variants, battles over closures and mandates, and the state’s Grand Reopening on June 15th, the total number of Californians who fell to the virus swelled to 75,000. At the same time, some 28 million residents received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Now, as the year is set to close, Newsom is undertaking a new venture - children’s book author.

This week, the Governor releasing "Ben and Emma’s Big Hit," a story inspired by his own struggles growing up with dyslexia.

This week, at a North Hollywood elementary school, a stop on the Governor’s book tour, Newsom sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with Elex Michaelson for The Issue Is. In a wide-ranging conversation, the two discuss dyslexia, rising crime, COVID policy, holiday traditions, and much, much more.



NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It manifests very differently for different people, and anywhere from 10 to 20% of all of us around the world have some form of language-based learning disability. What's typically connected with dyslexia is a difficulty reading, which certainly something I have, but also spelling and writing, and it manifests at a relatively young age, and it could have devastating consequences unless you remediate, screen, test for it....

"I was lucky enough to get support, but it is a lifelong disability, and it includes now today, my inability, even as Governor, it's not an easy thing to say, but to read speeches, as an example, reading is still extraordinarily difficult. Spelling impossible. But there's also all of these other wonderful things that we're promoting as well that make dyslexics actually do well in life…

"I got a lot of support along the way from a single mom that didn't give up on me and a couple of teachers that really brought out what I needed most, which was developing some confidence, because what dyslexic kids don't have is any self-esteem. They don't have confidence, they think they're stupid, they don't think they're smart… dyslexics don't lack intellectual capacity, but they lack the ability to learn like others…"



NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The crime that we're seeing, the organized retail theft, the flash mobs - that is unacceptable, people need to be held to account... We need to be tough. We need to be aggressive. We need to prosecute. Period full stop. It's unacceptable. Know that California is putting historic resources in this space...

"That said, here's some facts, 39 states, not California, 39 states since 2000 have reformed their felony status. We actually have 31 other states that have the exact same felony status that we raised, that California has. Places like Texas, have higher property crime rates, larceny rates, and violent crime rates. Our violent crime rate in California went up at a lower rate, .8%, than the national rate of 5%. Those are facts. The homicide rates in Montana, a Red State, went through the roof. South Dakota, Kentucky compared to California. That said, it's unacceptable what's happening here...

"If Prop 47's responsible for flash mob stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if that's the case, then I ask, was it responsible for property crime and shoplifting, property crime and violent crime, dropping in 2015, and 16, and 17, and 18, and 19? And I believe that it's difficult to assess either at this point…."


Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.


NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We'll know that when we experience it... I mean, they say about success, it's not a place or definition, it's a direction. I mean, eventually we'll get to that point, but it doesn't seem that there's a numerical match to it. It was initially a 60%, 70%, you add that with herd immunity, antibodies for people who haven't been vaccinated, and now we're realizing, wait a second, I mean, we're many parts one body, what happens in South Africa can impact us here in the United States, so even if a state does well, that doesn't mean we're out of the woods...

"We're making progress. California is about a third of the hospitalizations we were this time last year, less than a third of the average daily case rates than we did this time last year, that's because of our higher vaccination rates. We know this still, overwhelmingly, is a disease that is impacting, disproportionately in ICU's and in terms of tragic death and loss of life, those that are unvaccinated. We're also starting to realize the power and potency of that third shot. And I think that's a consciousness we're starting to realize, this was not just a two dose regime, it might require a three dose regime. And that's why we have to get these booster shot numbers up…"


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

Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.