She told KMJ Radio Host Ray Appleton: "What I was trying to communicate was Fresno, the Central Valley has been very hard hit, as hard hit as places like Detroit. That's what I was trying to communicate."
Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke of Fresno State University, buys Whitman's explanation, but says it doesn't erase her original statement.
"The way it came off it sounded an awful lot like she was dissing Fresno and doesn't think an awful lot of it." Professor Holyoke said.
Comments on the ABC 30 Facebook page were a mix. Jesus said ... "Wow, really Meg? And you want me to vote for you. You haven't caught my attention yet, I think I'd rather vote for a third party."
Geoff wrote: "If you only see River Park, yeah, you can be offended, but go over the 99 and 180 then you'll see a rundown area that needs help and has been neglected by the city council."
Appleton and most callers to KMJ agreed with Whitman's negative view of the area.
She said: "Right now, as hard as it is to believe Fresno County has a higher unemployment rate than Metro Detroit."
Metro-Detroit is a statistical area that includes a six county region including other cities. The Detroit Mayor's office has pegged the actual city unemployment rate at nearly 30%. That would be double Fresno's rate.
Holyoke doesn't think Whitman's comments will hurt her much, but says her opponent Democrat Jerry Brown may get some mileage out of it. "This does create an opportunity for Jerry Brown to remind us periodically about this comment."
Holyoke agrees that if Brown made the very same comment about Fresno being "awful" he'd likely be roasted by Whitman supporters.
The two are scheduled to face off in a debate in Fresno on October 2nd. Whitman will make a campaign appearance in Fresno on Friday, Sept.23rd. Labor groups are organizing a protest.