Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

News-Press Continues to Digg Hole

Travis Armstrong seems to have written an editorial that appeared last night on the News-Press web site and was then taken down in favor of an editorial about schools. he purposely taking things they print and not putting them on the web site as he figures many of us have our ways?

The editorial, entitled "White Washing Child Pornography", was time-stamped at midnight last night and laid into child pornographers -- all well and good, but as usual failed to tell the whole story. Without even commenting about the perhaps unconscious racism exhibited in the title (turn about is fair play), Armstrong made a point of saying Jerry Roberts was the last person to have the computer and failed to mention that it was a used computer, had several users before Roberts and the fact that News-Press management held the computer for a week before sending it to DriveSavers. Why is he afraid to tell the truth to his readers?

Surprisingly, he even went after the Police Department for "blowing it" but failed to mention that both they and the District Attorney's Office chose not to prosecute the matter. His inability to tell the whole story and then go after former newsroom employees for bias borders on perhaps the criminal and at least the delusional...why can't he tell the whole truth? That is all we want. Tell us what really happened and let us decide for ourselves -- stop trying to poison our perception with your reality of the truth!

In the meantime, he tries to make the victims to be the children from the images. Yes, this is true in that the very existence of these images should make us all shudder. But the victim at the forefront of this charade is Jerry Roberts -- a victim of a sinking ship called the News-Press that thinks the only way they can swim to shore is to attack innocent former employees that they used to trust implicitly. What kind of person would make such accusations and not tell us the whole truth?

The question Travis needs to answer is WHO had the computer before Roberts? Be a real journalist rather than an opportunist! Are you in so deep that you can't get out? Do you wonder if you can ever get a job in journalism again? Exactly who had the computer before Jerry Roberts and WHO had the computer before that? Inquiring minds want to know...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read on Sonny's blog that the editorial did not appear in the print edition of the paper, just online, at midnight. I first read it this morning and it was not on later in the day.

4/25/2007 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara: Perhaps the better question to ask is who had the computer AFTER Roberts. After all, the machine was reported to have spent a week in the Ampersand office before being sent out to Drivesavers.

Also, remember that Travis wrote in his column (blatantly admitting to readers) that he had been reading emails which were addressed and sent to Barney Brantingham's computer AFTER Barney had left the paper. Travis admitted he had his dirty mitts on Barney's computer so it's possible he also looked around (and who knows what else) on Jerry's old machine.

This would explain why Travis refuses to tell the WHOLE truth.

4/25/2007 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Since I have been dead since 1858, I am a little slow and behind the curve on what's up around here. All this noise has disturbed my normal and preferred perspective of looking at things from on high. However, I have now been able to find, download, and read Susan Paterno's piece in the American Journalism Review. It wasn't hard to find. I think I will spend the day researching Wendy McCaw's recent land purchases in Santa Barbara and see what she's up to there. Oh yes, that "Free Willy" tale is a good one. So many things have changed since I was active in Santa Barbara.

Having long ago given Plaza de la Guerra to the people of Santa Barbara, I am a little concerned about what's up with Wendy parked on my Plaza. I think I'll make her an offer about how she might escape my scrutiny. If she'll just commission a statue of me for the Plaza I might consider letting sleeping dogs lie. But she'll have to give up her parking places on the Plaza too, and of course she'll have to bring back King Carlos.

4/26/2007 6:59 AM  
Anonymous A Loyal Blogabarbara fan said...

Sara-- just a piece of objective observation from a loyal reader of blogabarbara--- you appear to have lost any objectivity in re: the way you are handling the "child porn on N-P computer" matter. For instance, you have no less than SEVEN separate blog entries on this subject in the course of three days. It's one thing not to prematurely convict the person who was the last official "owner" of the computer--- it's another to completely exonerate him-- I don't think you'd give Travis that indulgence if he somehow "left the building" and thousands of porn pics were found on his feel free to ignore this piece of observation....I know that as a blogger you never claim to be "objective" however, you seem to have gone waayyyyy over the line on this one.


4/26/2007 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

Beyond Armstrong's huge ethical lapses, the point that really needs to be emphasized in this discussion is that everyone who worked in the News-Press newsroom potentially could have "used" it.
For years, and perhaps to this day, the NP's newsroom operated with a completely open network.
Individual computers were not password protected, and were set with file sharing on. That means any computer could be accessed from any other computer on the network.
Someone could install or download images or other data to the computer in question without the assigned "user" even knowing about it.
Moreover, computers were moved around regularly and often had many different assigned users during their lifespans. Many also had multiple users.
Finally, the NP has no reliable records of how and where its computers were deployed, or when drives or other components were moved from machine to machine.
So Jerry Roberts is no more a suspect than anyone else who worked in the newsroom during the time the computer in question was present there. Or Wendy McCaw for that matter.
And, of course, the computer arrived used, which means the crime McCaw,, Cappello et al are so consumed with solving may well have occurred elsewhere.
There's a reason the police and the DA closed this case.
This is nothing but a smear and most likely libelous.

4/26/2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Loyal Fan -- I see what you are saying AND I would submit that a few new, newsworthy items related to this story have come up over the last few days and are worth new posts. I am not so far gone that I haven't considered the possibility that the News-Press allegations are correct -- but the likelihood, considering all of the afroementioned factors seem slim. One of the key points here is that Roberts may not be able to be exonerated ever in many people's minds..

If it happened to Armstrong, I'm not so sure I would be so objective but also hope that I would give it enough attention as stories which might exonerate him come up that I could reasily admit I was wrong. That is something I am not sure you would get from the News-Press.

Thanks for expressing your concern and for participating here...I get what you are saying.

4/26/2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous reader of the court schedules said...

Several blog subjects are posted because new information kept coming in to update the story. Same approach happened in past years and months during the local elections.

My suggestion on that is that Blogabarbara could just spread out the postings more evenly, instead of several on only a few days per week.

Playing the Child Pornography card as a ruse to continue the vendetta against Jerry Roberts is the real and true Travisty here. The public knows that and is responding via blogs and other venues. That adds up.

The court hearing that Newspress and Ampersand initiated is scheduled for next week Wednesday morning at 9:30. The County Courthouse is a big, PUBLIC space where the public outside indeed may express its continuing and growing outrage at Ampersand, McCaw, and their pathetic hirelings and their latest insults to the community.

4/26/2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I completely disagree with the post from A Loyal Blogabarbara Fan, and wonder if it's just another News-Press plant or lawyer's subterfuge.

This is a huge new angle to the story and it has received broad national and international coverage. Of course media outlets and blogs should cover it.

Jerry was not the last "owner" of that computer. And as someone already noted, the computer passed through other people's hands AFTER Jerry left, including security chief Nick Montano. Did Montano install the porn? I think it's a fair question.

What's especially troubling is that if McCaw or one of her minions is behind this, then they have broken some serious laws in their attempts to harm another.

4/26/2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

It may be a fair question but let's be careful not to make unfounded allegations, no? I realize that's not your intent but let's see what happens here.

4/26/2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous I'm Jus' Sayin' said...

Who had the means, motive, and opportunity to load up any files onto the computer that was taken from the building and moved to the Ampersand private office?

For Ampersand to want that hard disk back so aggressively only compounds and magnifies the suspicion.

4/26/2007 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I'm curious about are the current NP newsroom employees. What are they still doing there? Their employer is a meance and harmful to the town. And they are at risk of being similarly slimed by child porn accusations or whatever the rich recluse comes up with next.

I could not work in such an environment nor risk putting my family through one of her hate campaigns should things turn sour. Save yourself, people. Get out.

4/26/2007 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous 12:08

Once again, if ya disagree, or even present an alternative POV, to a true Wendy-hater, then ya must be a Wendy stooge. Open your tiny little mind for cryin' out loud and don't always be sure that yours is the only true way.

4/26/2007 5:28 PM  
Anonymous A Loyal Blogabarbara fan said...

FYI ---I am FAR from being a "News-Press plant or lawyer's subterfuge.".
I cancelled my subscription within days of the initial exodus. I've supported the labor efforts of employees in many many ways.

Please don't make the illogical leap to conspiracy theorizing when considering some unfortunate facts and the reality that NONE OF US except for the downloader knows who did or did not download those files. NONE OF US, including you. The fact that the N-P made a huge ethical lapse in publishing the story on Sunday does not diminish the seriousness of the underlying crime. It just obfuscates the issue in the forum of public discourse.

4/26/2007 8:35 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

I would counter that focussing such attention on "the underlying crime" is itself a means of "obfuscation," especially since the deleted images could have been there for YEARS -- even before the drive came into SBNP possession. Sorry, but this is being trotted out as a red herring, and I think that's apparent to most savvy observers.

In the interest of full disclosure, is the SBNP going to have every hard drive on its premises scanned by a data-recovery firm? I certainly feel they should, or that they should WANT to. If it's such a serious crime, don't you think their readership needs to know that they're doing everything they can to scrutinize and clean up their information systems? Maybe the police should have a vested interest -- if one computer at that business contained "contraband", maybe there are more? Maybe we, as concerned citizens, should be up in arms about rooting out all the child porn at the SBNP offices, no?

The truth is, child porn is (perhaps justifiably?) pretty much the last untouchable taboo crime where even the slightest taint or suggestion of guilt can ruin a person. If you're not "against" it you must be "for" it.... like the Communist scares, Salem Witch Trials, etc. Trying to link someone with that crime is possibly the true "last refuge of the scoundrel."

4/27/2007 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see the NP often. I've read they are concerned about serious crimes against their paper and abused children. Crimes that break state and federal law. Is there a blog that monitors the papers ongoing stories, columns and editorials on this? I understand Travis Armstrong and Dr. Laura always keep up on the NP, what are they saying?

Mr. Cappello said "Some employee committed a crime on company property." Have they named all their suspects? If not, why not? It would be unfair to name only one suspect. They seem to be determined to learn who did it. Cappello believes a forensic investigation was "bungled", who bungled? He knows the images were downloaded at the NP? Will there be charges against the "bunglers" or where is their response to Cappello?

When is the court date to retrieve the contraband? There are deeply serious criminal behaviors and it matters alot that this is handled in all respect to victims. It only makes the NP look frivilous and far worse to not keep up on their story. You don't care about crimes against children one day and the next day it's over. If they are waiting for the contraband hearing, that's self serving. I'd like to know if they care for the crimes against children. What did they publish after they dropped the bomb about these crimes?

4/27/2007 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Union supporters in the newsroom deserve our strongest possible praise. They have hung in there to bring McCaw to the table and force reform on an institution gone mad. They are the true heroes in this.

4/27/2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree that focusing attention on "the underlying crime" is a kind of obfuscation, at least to the extent that it "justified" a deeply flawed front-page story that a credible paper would never have run.

But one reason I think we need to find the perpetrator (if that's even possible) is that it might point us back to the News-Press itself. If the News-Press (or anyone else) did this, they should be held accountable, no?

4/27/2007 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing... Maybe the NP staff actually read NP Letters policy, and decided to apply it (for once).
Letters Policy
Have Your Say

Your opinions are valuable contributions to these pages
Letters must be fewer than 250 words and exclusive to the News-Press. We edit all submissions for length, clarity and other professional standards. We do not print submissions that make personal attacks, lack a civil tone, allege illegal wrongdoing or involve consumer complaints.

And awfully quiet... four days and no opinions from TA... someone go on vacation.

4/27/2007 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News-Press didn't even publish the press conference held by the person the paper linked to the porn.

There was lots of information about the investigation made available to the public at that time.

Guess the N-P didn't want readers to know the whole story, only the way the News-Press wanted to spin it.

Unless the community takes back its newspaper, this is what we're going to be stuck with:

Lies, slander, libel, spin, bias, advertising masquerading as news.

Didn't someone say something about a protest in front of the courthouse?

4/27/2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the hard drives that probably had been checked by the News Press, Jerry's was the only one with porn? He should be playing the lotto with that type of luck. If Gil is such a hero for coming forward, why did he wait 6 months since he was one of the first to know? Roberts was the last one in possession of the dirty computer so, of course, he is the prime suspect. Why would anyone think this is odd? When a spouse is murdered who is the prime suspect? The other spouse? So everyone quit whining about poor Jerry. His good friend Gil could have stopped this months ago and gave the Police a statement. The Police Department is 5 blocks from the News Press. Gil could have walked down there. Unless he is going to say Montano, McCaw, Cappello, Millstein, who knows who else kept him from leaving the building. Maybe the cops should be looking at Gil since he was the IT "guru." According to Raul Gil's Declaration he was advised by Montano to leave out other information which could have been beneficial to Jerry. The fact is that he put that other information into his Declaration and since this was a Court document it would seem the Police would have had that information as well. Knowing how McCaw and the management team dismiss people there routinely there is no way they would have waited 2 days to terminate Gil or ask for Gil's resignation if this alleged situation had actually taken place.

4/27/2007 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 1:16---

I have one more "reason to find the perpetrator"--- that would be to, uh, apprehend a child pornographer......or does that not rise to the same level of import

4/27/2007 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:10, your analogy between the last person to work on a porn-filled computer and the spouse of a murdered person doesn't hold up. That is the whole point of law enforcement's refusal to try anyone: they don't even know all the people who may have actually used the computer, and there is no particular reason that the alleged "last" person would be the one who committed the downloading crime. Apparently the images are not "date-stamped", so it could have been someone before the computer came to the News-Press, it could have been someone at the News-Press before Roberts acquired the computer, it could have been someone afterward (a point the News-Press doesn't want anyone thinking about). It's not as if the computer gives off an "alarm" when someone is trafficking in illegal images, so what makes Roberts the "prime suspect"? Only malevolence toward him, nothing more.

4/27/2007 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police and D.A. must have exhausted their resources "to find the perpetrator(s)" of child porn. If not, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Cappello said he thinks something was "bungled". More on that may come out when they request contraband. In any event, the public needs to know what the problems are. Child porn is not a one time deal. If the police aren't trained or it's equipment, a wealthy person who cares about child victims has the ability to see Santa Barbara law is state of the art in this area. Everyone can contact law, city officials and voice their concerns.

If Cappello is right about "bungled" wouldn't that effect a trial?

I have a problem with the "15,000". Why so many and on a company computer? Police must know the time involved and day workers habits. The cleaning lady and after hours are something else. That many images makes me think they were already on when purchased, hacked or an inside job. If it's the latter, motive is paramount. As I understand the FBI is still investigating? It's a serious federal matter. I'd think it's a serious federal matter to wrongly use contraband of this nature to harm another as well. Who are the FBI obligated to tell if they can determine anything? Or, if it's a dead end? If the FBI has the evidence/contraband how does Ampersand get it from the police?

I am disappointed the News-Press said nothing, that level of irresponsibility is hard to believe. They will loose all credibility with the remaining supporters. Travis is silent? Dr. Laura has by now written about this in her Thursday column? She goes bananas when children are harmed. There is no way she'd be silent. Wendy doesn't censor her.

4/28/2007 2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 4:10
Wendy is a good manipulator and is adept at poisoning and spinning webs around her victims. I had considered Jerry and Raul as part of her minions until they rediscovered their consciences and broke free. Jerry didn't go to bat for other editors and employees "screwed" by Ms McCaw, until he realized he was one of them. Same with Raul, unless he was trying to act as a buffer and ride it out. I am glad they figured it out and stood up to the lady and her bullies, but it really was a long time in coming. Those of us in other departments had a different view of things for a long time, as we observed Wendy's manipulations from afar. To Jerry and Raul's credit, once they realized the real situation, they showed real courage and resigned. They certainly have earned the respect they now have in the community for their efforts.

4/28/2007 4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who has observed and read case studies of computer porn suspects, multiple sometimes HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of images on one hard drive is, sadly, typical. Some individual files will contain hundreds of images. It becomes a compulsion, and all too many otherwise upstanding business/professional types whohave been convicted report that this obsessive behavior defies all rational explanation. Whoever did this needs help.

4/28/2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to the new gossip columnist?

4/28/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Not listed on the columnists pages, but Minards had column in the paper on the 24th. 10% local gossip at the end of what is probably one of columns for his normal readership.

4/28/2007 12:56 PM  
Anonymous a witness said...

4:32 makes a valid and overlooked point. While we've tended to lionize Roberts, let's not forget that a lot of good people got seriously screwed during his tenure.

Gary Robb, Dave Loveton, Morgan Green and Chic Perkins come to mind right away. Others, including Melinda Johnson and Michael Yparrea, left unhappy. Feel free to add to the list.

I like Roberts and think he's a good guy, but he showed he could be ruthless, too.

4/28/2007 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true that Jerry axed some very talented staff members for less-than-good reasons. But to a degree, he was still taking "cost-cutting" orders from McCaw. He was still drinking the cool aid.

He wised up when the knives pointed at him.

4/28/2007 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roberts was completely unresponsive and in fact hostile to many in the community who tried to approach him with concerns about treatment by Armstrong in the editorial pages---up until he himself got screwed by McCaw last July.

4/28/2007 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 1:40

The talk when Jerry arrived was that Wendy wanted a Pulitzer and that he was hired for that purpose. He did bring a dynamic energy that was needed at the paper, but you are right, it made him somewhat ruthless. Part of it was the attempt to create a top notch newspaper, but I also think his ego had been tapped into and stroked by Wendy. He was like a bull in a china shop and didn't seem to care about doing things in a systematic and measured way. He might have done things differently had he taken the time to know the Newsroom before turning it upside down and signing contrived performance reviews. Mark Van de Kamp is another one who got caught in the carnage. He got the shaft from McCaw and Roberts. I am not sure if Macfadyen left after Roberts came or before, but Bill is another casualty.

4/28/2007 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

Can't argue with A Witness, but Melinda Johnson left before the Jerry Roberts epoch.

I don't think I would be remiss in saying that her decision to seek greener pastures resulted in part from Wendy McCaw's parsimony.

4/28/2007 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Been there, still there said...

Good people got screwed by Jerry.

Good people got screwed by The New York Times.

Of the two, I preferred Jerry's management.

But then all of us got screwed by Wendy.

4/28/2007 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy is just getting started and she's not limited to News-Press employees.

4/29/2007 12:24 PM  

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