WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown, arriving at the Newseum this evening for a private dinner for the Democratic Governors Association, was asked if he found it ironic that, at a building erected to celebrate the news, no reporters were allowed inside.
"You can come in," he said. "Just come in and see what they say about that."
Brown was persistent - "He can just walk through a little bit and get a smell of it," he said - but the association had already spoken, and Brown's wife and special counsel, Anne Gust Brown, suggested to her husband that with so many other governors present he could not change the rules.
So on his iPhone 4S, Brown consulted Siri.
"Should this meeting be closed to the press?"
Siri said it didn't see any meeting about that.
Gust Brown translated: "She doesn't think there's a meeting about 'Be closed to the press.'"
Brown, on the second day of a weekend trip to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and the nation's governors, is expected to speak at the gathering. A string quartet was playing inside.
Earlier today, Brown said he did not know how much money he raised for his ballot initiative to raise taxes at another private function he attended, a fundraiser Thursday at the home of Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta.
He downplayed the event, describing it as "an opportunity for people to come together and talk a little bit."
Later, as governors arrived at the Newseum, they walked past the front pages of newspapers from around the country and, printed on the building's facade, the First Amendment.
Standing by the entrance was Mark Giangreco, a Democratic Governors Association spokesman. More reliable, perhaps, than Siri, he said the organization hosts lots of meetings.
"Many are open to press," Giangreco said. "Some are not."