Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Cease-And-Desist World View

“A cease-and-desist letter is a form of dialogue.” -- News-Press General Counsel David Millstein in the New York Times today.

Sharon Waxman of The New York Times wrote today that the "chasm between Mrs. McCaw's world view and that of a great many others in Santa Barbara has caused distress that is rippling through the community. To visit Santa Barbara six months after the first News-Press crisis is to observe the fracturing of a community, a process that has been heartbreaking for many".

McCaw, Von Wiesenberger and Steepleton did not return calls seeking comment for the article. Millstein pointed out, however, that McCaw was feeling victimized by the negative things said about her. Well, if she could find a way to start a dialogue with our community about what has happened at the News-Press and their relationship to their readers and their staff -- things could change. I, for one, would be the first to congratulate her and hope for the best.

With a cease-and-desist world view, however, more and more readers will follow the route of reporters and editors and "get out while they can".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many people have been ragging on the News-Mess regarding typos and miss-speelings (joke intended), but I noticed the NY Times isn't immune to mistakes either: the referenced article spells SLO as San Louis Obispo... I guess it happens to the best of them, too.

1/15/2007 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's ignorant in that she doesn't know what she doesn't know. She's causing lots of damage because of it.

There are business and community solutions that are not rocket science, but it appears that she won't listen to anyone.

It's a common story for those with her history of immense wealth they didn't work for and lack of respect for people.

A billionaire newspaper owner is only a "victim" in her own mind.

1/15/2007 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing I don't get. I have been reading this blog and have been fairly glued to this News Press story for months now. I can't understand why Mrs. Mcaw doesn't just sell the paper. It can't be fun for her anymore. She clearly is someone who thrives on public attention. She rubs elbows with movie stars and the like, who I'm sure read the LA and NY Times as well as Vanity Fair. All indicators are that she will continue to be hammered in the courts and in the public arena as a result of how this thing has been handled. Her positive civic involvement is understandably being lost under the News Press scrutiny. She could still be a hero by just conceding that she wasn't cut out for the newspaper business, and direct her considerable wealth at pursuits which are more suited to her. As a long-time politics-watcher, I know that this town is pretty forgiving. Wendy could make up a lot of ground and feel a hell of a lot more welcome here by trying something different. I would love to be able to read a News Press that actually feels like a local paper again. Come on Wendy!

1/15/2007 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'Shut up,' he explained."

More commentary about this morning's New York Times story about Wendy McCaw:

1/15/2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another mistake by the NYT: They credited that awful photo of a bloated Wendy to Paula Wellman of the Independent, rather than to Paul Wellman. Unless he's now transgendered, that is, and in that case . . . nevermind.

1/15/2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the New York Times today, David Millstein, Wendy's San Francisco lawyer and replacement for Los Angeles spokesperson Dr. Agnes Huff, says:

“To have people we’ve knocked in editorials, former employees and the Teamsters knocking us — all of whom have an ax to grind — is difficult for any business to tolerate.”

How about hairdresser Eric Zahm, Dr. Millstein? Do you or Agnes Huff even know him or where his small business is in Santa Barbara?

Contrary to what you say, Dr. Millstein, Eric hasn't had the pleasure to be attacked by the editorial page, forced out of work at the paper, or join the Teamsters. But he's the main point of the story.

What's the paranoid "I'm a victim" explanation for billionaire "Mrs." McCaw going after Eric, Dr. Millstein?

If it gets too "difficult" for "Mrs." McCaw, maybe she and boyfriend von Whatever can return to the ostentatious gas guzzling yacht in Europe, to drink water from landfilling plastic bottles, being sure once again to leave opinion editor Travis Armstrong in charge of the newspaper's news credibility.

1/15/2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a common saying in the 12-Step community:

"Would you rather be right? Or would you rather be happy?"

It looks like Wendy wants to be right, 'cause she sure doesn't look happy. But she's not right. She's moving toward the darkness of insanity.

The mountain she is climbing is steep and the peak is unattainable.

1/15/2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her ex -- Craig McCaw -- reportedly has bought a house in Montecito.

Can't imagine him and his new wife wanting to live near Wendy.

Unless.... he's here to help bail her out of the mess she's gotten herself into.

1/15/2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger yekai886 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/15/2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like 'bunker-down' situation here. with enough ca$h WM, can circle the wagons [Rolls Royces], find enough open hands to confirm her views and procede in the 'I've been wronged' mode, regardless of the bigger picture, law, 1st amendment, or reality outside of Wendy-world. Since her ex had to pay so much money to leave [does that make him an indirect enabler of this mess?], maybe he's returning with the new, younger wife to gloat? petty-ness crosses all economic levels. another post here nailed it, people [and you know who you are], would rather be 'right' than happy.

1/15/2007 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things go bad for The Wendy last week, so she throws a tantrum and hits back at Jerry Roberts for $25 million...

The way things keep going for her, maybe she'll get so angry she will spontaneously combust.

1/15/2007 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Another view said...

Wendy moved here in 1995, shortly after her husband, Craig Mccaw, indicated he wanted a divorce.

She immediately got involved with a local attorney who was representing the seller of the property she bought in Hope Ranch.

During her divorce proceedings, in Washington state, she subpoenaed many people while trying to get at the money Craig McCaw had. Was she trying to punish him and them?

Here, in Santa Barbara, while she and her attorney were a happy couple, he got all kind of financial perks with his involvement in her company. After they broke up, she went after him with a vengeance.

Enter Arthur von Weisenberger and the N-P. He and Wendy are still together, but many of her top employees, unhappy with how she's running the paper, have bailed out. She's gone after them with a vengeance.

And she's surrounded herself with people who behave in much the same way she does in blaming and villifying others. Dr. Laura, Travis Armstrong and Scott Steepleton immediately come to mind.

Wendy, it seems to me that you're suffering some kind of major psychic pain. Maybe you had a crappy childhood, maybe you have personal problems you haven't addressed.

But please, stop taking it out on everyone else.

Get the help you need.

1/15/2007 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The woman is sick and dangerous with people around her encouraging her behavior for their own gain.

1/15/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Wendy's ex is here to buy the paper out from under her! Wouldn't that be great?!

1/15/2007 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

One of the crowning ironies of the current situation at the News-Press is that while the newspaper had run into controversy by attempting to eliminate bias from its reporting, it is the subject of so much biased reporting by supposedly reputable publications.

The latest example comes in today's New York Times. While not as egregious as the Paterno story in American Journalism Review or the "reporting" in a local freebie, the Times story is plagued by biased wording, selective use of facts and erroneous statements of fact.

For example:

-- When the Times refers to News-Press circulation trends, it fails to mention industry-wide circulation losses. Jerry Roberts' old newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times have faced steeper circulation declines than the News-Press in recent months. The article falsely and deceitfully implies that circulation trends are related to the transition period.

-- The Times article also betrays an ignorance of local politics and the News-Press' zealous editorial advocacy for Santa Barbara. When it claims the News-Press has rejected overtures from "city elders," it falsely suggests that such "elders" are acting without malice. In fact, many of these same "elders" are politicians whose ethical shortcomings and betrayal of their community have earned them reproof in the News-Press editorial pages. To portray their actions as pure in motive is false and misleading.

-- The numbers about newsroom staffing are also misleading as they suggest that the number of editorial employees has declined from 70 to 40. This is inaccurate. In fact, the News-Press has hired new journalists to replace employees who have left and overall staffing is relatively consistent. In addition, the article implies that Randy Alcorn was arbitrarily dismissed when in fact he was on the verge of resigning voluntarily. Any insinuations of mass resignations or firings are false and defamatory.

-- It also is misleading to suggest that former editors resigned out of "sympathy" for Mr. Roberts. George Foulsham indicated that family concerns had motivated his decision, while Michael Todd faced discipline for making threats against an employee. The article also erroneously identifies Don Murphy as managing editor when in fact his title was deputy managing editor.

-- Overall, the Times article paints a biased and distorted picture of events at the News-Press. It is sprinkled with code words including "bogeyman," "suspended animation" and "shoddy" that are presented as statements of fact rather than the writer's opinion. And it fails to give credit to Wendy McCaw and other News-Press managers for continuing to publish a newspaper of which Santa Barbara can be proud despite the attacks that have been inflicted on it.

The New York Times, unfortunately, has joined the cabal of attackers.

1/15/2007 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You All have such a cute lil town.
Makes such interesting reading.
Dialogue is not going to happen.
It can't, it has gone that far.
Only the outside will be able write the history if this "Mess".

1/15/2007 10:29 PM  
Anonymous donald de Santa Barbara said...

While I would not want to challenge the host Sara de la guerra I would hope that the comment deleted @ 2:01 pm was really necessary.

As it turns out (and as the Bush administration points out) there are really no anonymous posts. Law enforcement, along with any slightly above average teenager can trace just about anything in cyberspace.

Sara de la guerra's blog is special in that it is not a one way street such as Craigs blog. It is also not an passive, ordianry and capitalistic blog such as Ed Hats blog.

Free speech, with minimal censorship is minimal these days and I hope Sara will keep this blog extraordinarally open.

BTW I hope that Wendy will negotiate with the legally elected union. She might just find that she will also get what she needs in the negotiation process. Lets just call it a "Win Win" situation.

If Wendy does consider reopening discussion with the union membership, I just might start contributing again to the Wildlife Care Network again as well as re-subscribe the the SBNP.

1/15/2007 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy is like a 3-year-old pounding the dirty floor in a tantrum, shrieking, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" while holding the deed to the NP building. And like many 3-year-olds, they'll break their toys before they'll share them. The NP is beyond fixing.

1/16/2007 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barney's back. check out this AM's N-P website under columnists. Maybe a mistake? or a subversive employee. His picture heading a column.

1/16/2007 6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slanting the message at the News Press Mess:

I wonder if the guy who did this will get sued:

1/16/2007 6:52 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

donald -- it was splog or blog-related spam that I published by mistake (it does happen!) and then deleted. As you can see from nelville's post -- I am committed to free and open speech. I also, however, want it to be responsible....and always urge people to be as civil as they can.


1/16/2007 9:41 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

donald -- it was splog or blog-related spam that I published by mistake (it does happen!) and then deleted. As you can see from nelville's post -- I am committed to free and open speech. I also, however, want it to be responsible....and always urge people to be as civil as they can.


1/16/2007 9:41 AM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

Sara-- Can you make the jpegs in my message open on the site?
Marc McGinnes

1/16/2007 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Caballero said...

What an amusing rant in the Nelville comment above. Why was the Newspress editorial today about the same topic so devoid of facts or examples that were sprinkled in this blog comment by the infamous Nelville Flynn?

Could it be that the editorial writer is just making up feces and is too chicken guano to publish his alleged facts and examples because the author of the editorials is known, but the author of the Nelville comment supposedly is not?

It indeed is a very large cabal when New York Times now is drafted into its membership. Welcome to our East Coast members.

1/16/2007 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because the truth makes you look bad doesn't make the telling of it bias, Nelville.

1/16/2007 12:54 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Marc -- I can't do that within the comments area (technical reasons) and would rather not make a post on the matter. I'm not even sure whose picture it is....why make it any worse for them? Thanks.

1/16/2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Hey Nelville said...

For those of us who still subscribe to the paper (yes, some of us still do), who are some of the new people in the newsroom?
I see the name of Mindy Spar as the Life editor. And in the business section, there's Dale Rim. And there's a Steve Bonser who has a byline as a business writer. Isn't he president of Valueleads, that Internet marketing company in town?
Will the paper being doing a story on these new people?

1/16/2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

What is the "transition period"?

The only transition going on is the steady decline of a good newspaper to its inevitable extinction from its peak last June. The declining circulation, numbers of original and accurate articles, routine scoops by Daily Sound and blogs, and sliding overall quality are the only "transition" going on here.

1/16/2007 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, if Wendy McCaw "declines to comment" or if Steepleton "doesn't return calls," then don't whine about not getting your side out.

1/16/2007 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty obvious that von Whatever is not Nelville... Nelville is a far more capable writer than von Whatever.

Of course, it is but a matter of relativity... the whole world can look biased from one individual's viewpoint. And no-one could argue that the NYT or the LAT are without bias.

But they are far less biased, from my perspective, than the current News-Press, which published an unsigned article by a participant in the recent NLRB hearing, with no disclaimers or qualifiers at all.

1/16/2007 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Can he do it? said...

Geez.... maybe we should add Nelville to the list of people who "blame and vilify" posted by Another View.

All he seems to do is point fingers at everyone else.

Hey Nelville, I'm tired of all the attacks on the other news media, politicians, the Teamsters, former employees.

What's the News-Press doing for ME, the reader? For the community?

How about something positive, for a change?

I challenge you to tell me something positive the newspaper is doing -- without attacking someone or something else in the process.

1/16/2007 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At: 1/15/2007 10:57 PM donald de Santa Barbara said... " If Wendy does consider reopening discussion with the union membership, I just might start contributing again to the Wildlife Care Network again as well as re-subscribe the the SBNP."

Wendy McCaw/Ampersand donated $1 mil (I think it was) to the SBWCN a couple of years ago to help them purchase the $1.5+ mil property at the end of Fairview. They are still struggling to raise funds to build on the property and for on-going operating costs, as well as for the loan for the balance of the purchase price.

Unfortunately, the Wildlife Care Network depends on others than Mrs McCaw in order to operate. This is a generous community but with so many needs, and especially now with Cottage and with the much hyped Granada Theater (going from $23 mil to an estimated $53 mil), the calls for the area's injured wildlife are very weak and not much heard, except for the kind inclusion in the Christmas fund.

Wendy McCaw/Ampersand has been generous to a number of local non-profits, including the Granada Theater ($4mil?) and probably lots of others.

I know the work the volunteers do for the Wildlife Care Network. They need your and everyone's help. Please do not punish them in order to slap at McCaw.

1/16/2007 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a comment for "Nelville" that he can pass on back to Wendy: since she has unlimited resources and limited good sense, is Wendy going to file a defamation/libel suit against the NY Times? It would be very amusing watching Wendy's stumblebum, sycophantic, bootlicking lawyers get their you-know-what handed to them by the Times. Or does Wendy just like picking on small fry like hair stylists and cancer patients?

1/16/2007 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“A cease-and-desist letter is a form of dialogue.”

The Red Queen couldn't have said it better herself.

1/16/2007 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville Say: The New York Times, unfortunately, has joined the cabal of attackers.

Wise Man Say: When everything in life keeps coming your way, you are driving in the wrong lane.

1/16/2007 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

Let's take the comments from Neville (the non-Nipper) one at a time:
CIRCULATION TRENDS : The figure was officially reported as 38,000 in September, which was a six-month average predating the meltdown by three months. Today, it is in the low 30,000s and falling. When Wendy bought the paper, it was about 42,000. That's almost a 20% decline under her "leadership." Most of that has come in the last 6 months. "False and deceitful?" No other paper in Calif. even comes close to this sorry record.
LOCAL POLITICS: The NP has always had political opponents. It's the nature of newspapers. The difference today is that they are now considered enemies, and their voices have been banned from the newspaper, along with everyone else who disagrees with the owner. What are Wendy and Travis so afraid of? Where is the courage of their convictions? (Answer: They are cowards.)
NEWSROOM STAFFING: What is the number today, Neville? How about running a staff list like the NP used to do almost daily to fill space? It should be easy to prove your point, except you can't. The problem is, it is beyond question that staffing has declined precipitiously. And many of the new "journalists" who have been hired have quit or been fired. Most are inexperienced at best, incompetent at worst. If it's such a great gig, why can't Wendy hire a new editor when she's offering $200,000 in salary? As for Randy Alcorn, he left because he valued his integrity over $$, unlike the cabal that Wendy surrounds herself with. Jumped or fired, doesn't really make much difference.
MOTIVATIONS FOR LEAVING: Only Foulsham and Todd could speak directly to why they left, but the evidence and their comments suggest strongly that it wasn't merely to spend more time with the family. And the attack on Todd involved manipulation by the NP of the baseless worries of a troubled "victim." And yes, Murphy was deputy managing editor -- one point for Nipper, er, Neville.
OVERALL: "Continuing to publish a newspaper of which Santa Barbara can be proud?" If there's so much pride, why is circulation in the toilet, advertising on the decline, morale at rock bottom and the community up in arms. As Dr. Spock used to say, "That's illlogical."
Who makes this stuff up? Are you really this dishonest, Neville, or just delusional? Who do you think is buying this crap? Certainly not the 8,000+ subscribers who have bailed.
You flatter yourselves to think the NYT cares enough to be involved in some imaginary cabal against you.
Here's an idea: Be honest and decent and fair and open. You'll be amazed at the results. My guess is you've never tried it.

1/16/2007 10:51 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

To add to the Exes comments, the circulation figures so far reported do not distinguish between paid sales of the News-Press, versus the ones given away or dumped at schools.

Many, many subscriptions also have lapsed but are still delivered too for the records to show it as a customer. And new subscribers are offered with price discounts of 65% or more.

1/17/2007 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wendy Sue, Wendy Sue,
All she ever does it seems
is spin and sue
Wen-dy, O Wen-dy Sue-oo-oo

1/19/2007 4:22 PM  

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