Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Big Mouths? Takes One to Know One

Dr. Laura took on Craig Smith and the the now-defunct Santa Barbara Newsroom today like her buddy Wendy had won the war.

Here's a mean-spirited snippet to give you an idea of how that went over:

Where is Sara McCune's check? She was vocal enough about being willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to buy the News-Press, but she wasn't willing to put up the hundreds of thousands to keep its so-called substitute afloat.

What lazy, cheap, power-hungry hypocrites.

I think News-Press management sees the writing on the wall and that the August 14th court date does not bode well according to their many, many legal consultants. Dr. Laura should remember that opinion is opinion but that a wall between the owner of the News-Press and her columns is worth more than whatever Wendy could pay her.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter what side on the fence anyone may be regarding the Newspress series of issues,Laura, who I refuse to label as Dr. because she is not a real one, took the lowest swipe yet by insulting Sara McCune in such a degree in her article.

I would have thought Laura has a career strong enough that she didnt need to also serve as a mouthpiece for someone else, but after that last article, I have to wonder.

Shouldn't she be spending more time on family issues? Instead of hurling false insults at public spirited people like Ms. McCune she might want to take some introspective time. She comes off like a wacko, and I think she does more damage to the Newspress image than help with her vindictive prose. But that's just 1 opinion.

7/19/2007 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad karma will take down Schlessinger, but she does ask a good question: where was McCune's check.

She (her foundation) funded Homes on Wheels so they could publish a newsletter inviting all the homeless in California to come park on Santa Barbara streets a few years back.

So why didn't she write a check for more of her leftie friends?

Whoowhee, anyone get the drift of where the Santa Barbara Sound is going in its columns and editorials - died and gone to heaven. Voices of reason all and finally a chance for this voice to be heard over the Santa Monica din.

There are some angry voices out there and they are finally stepping up to the plate to be heard. Local politics will no longer be business as usual. Some new fresh voices are making their impact on the local scene. And not a moment too soon.

Don't be surprised. They were always there -- just buried and ignored under the old NewsPress suppression and bias.

7/19/2007 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we now start inserting comments here about how the same money spent for XXX instead should be spent on YYY in order to solve ZZZ issue/problem/crisis?

SB News Room, Journalists Loan Fund, Friends of Jerry, whatever.

7/19/2007 11:54 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Now, the NewsMess is advocating murder of the City Council in this letter to editor.

Hang inept city officials out to dry

Charles A. Cagara, Santa Barbara

July 20, 2007

In 1988, author and gadfly James Farrell published a harangue with the only-slightly-tongue-in-cheek title "The Case for Hanging Errant Public Officials."

Perhaps it's time to dust off this little gem and send copies to Santa Barbara's mayor and City Council.

The "blue line'' was the last straw. Witness also "traffic calming," the ostrich response to gang violence, downtown canyonization, Housing Authority-gate, St. Francis condo-gate and planning fiascoes, as in parking garage mis-measurement.

Also, the State Street tree "chain saw massacre," the affordable-housing debate debacle, fiscally irresponsible sweetheart retirement deals, and self-indulgent junkets at taxpayer expense.

If my blood pressure could stand it, I'd continue the litany.

And, if the county Board of Supervisors is reading this with smug satisfaction -- look only to your lack of gumption as regards a failure to confront and challenge the state housing mandate.

Alas, I fear that if we were to adopt Mr. Farrell's methods of ensuring good government, the public safety would be put at risk from the stampede of applicants rushing City Hall to be hired as hangman.

7/20/2007 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still work inside that house of horrors on De La Guerra Plaza, and I've got to say that Dr. L's dose of raspberries has left me dripping with angst.

We were all hoping that a White Knight such as Sara McCune would ride to our rescue by starting a new daily newspaper -- or at least by supporting the online alternative -- or that the NRLB would put Wendy in her place with an injunction forcing her to reinstate the fired Eight. I've been shocked and dismayed to see that absolutely NONE OF THIS has happened.

It's been quite chilling to the rest of us still left at the News-Press for Sara McCune and the many others of unlimited wealth in this town to sit by so idly while our eight brothers and sisters at SB Newsroom were left twisting in the wind. So now I'm just going to dive back into my hole at the News-Press as Wendy and her Gestapo continue to play whack a mole with us around here.

I've attended my last rally. I'm telling my friends to re-start their subscriptions. The war is over and we lost. Now I'm just going to collect my paycheck and get drunk.

I wish there really was some writing on the wall that would bother Wendy and her minions, but I don't think the Aug. 14 court date worries them at all -- not without that injunction. Their plan to drag out this legal fiasco until everybody involved are in nursing homes is right on track. I'm ready to move into one right now.

After watching SB Newsroom die on the vine, it's pretty clear now that McCune and her rich friends aren't going to do anything more but give lip service to such ideals as "journalistic integrity." Talk is cheap, and I swear I'll retch the next time I hear somebody of means spew such rhetoric without putting some serious cash behind it. That crap has done nothing more but give false hope to those of us who are still on the firing line.

The evil Doc was right this time, I'm sorry to say.

7/20/2007 5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura, Wendy, Travis and the boyfriend have brought public discourse to a vicious new low, completely out of character and out of touch with the pulse of the city.

They should just go back.

7/20/2007 6:11 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

FDS -- I think any of us would get subpoena'd on writing something like that -- jeesh. Not a good message to promote and something I couldn't imagine publishing...

5:17 AM -- I hear you but Sara Miller McCune should not have been made out to be your knight in shining armor. I'm not clear that SB Newsroom's model was meant to last this long...and Sara has too much business savvy to invest in something that wasn't really designed to make the kind of money the eight were making. Still, they could have gotten a lot more support from a lot more people.

7/20/2007 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How smart do you have to be to recognize the use of irony by the writer who mentions the over-the-top-title? When Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal," he was using satire to illuminate the dangers of overpopulation, not seriously suggeting eating Irish babies as a soluntion. Attacking the literary devise, rather than the content of his message, misses the point--and his point is not murder, it's errant officials--with plenty of good examples of their ineptness.

7/20/2007 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The SB Newsroom did what it intended to do: keep the fired reporters' skills honed, and also deliver good local news.
I was never under the impression it was designed to be a long term or self-sustaining project.
They actively opted not to take on advertising because SBnewsroom was not meant to be a longterm business that B2B relationships need, or even a business in the revenue generating sense, and the effort of even seeking and organizing advertising would have taken away from the project intent - like keeping the reporters' skills active.

The SBNP is spinning the Newsroom closure as a failed business. That's irrelevant, but this tactic of publication is completely in line with their consistent performance of management bias, unprofessional writing, and opinionated agendas.

I'm not surprised they're portraying the SBNewsroom as such, but I am surprised that a number of commenters here have bought into it.

7/20/2007 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

To 5:17 -- I collect a paycheck from Wendy and I'm sad to see SB Newsroom go under. It was good to see real reporting, not just the amateurish crap that passes for journalism at the N-P now.

But here's the deal: the N-P is dead. It may say News-Press on the cover and have a (very) few local stories in it, but it has ceased to be a newspaper as we professional journalists know it. Instead, it's an insipid, pathetic plaything and cudgel for Wendy. All the hallmarks of a real paper -- fairness, objectivity, transparency, balance -- are gone, and they're not coming back.

This is the new age of the robber baron, when the rich buy newspapers and proceed to turn them into little more than minimal-content shoppers. Look what's happened to the once-great Philadelphia Inquirer; watch what happens when Sam Zell gets his hands on the LA Times (which is already in free-fall from the ineptitude of the Tribune Co.).

The N-P will limp along because its overhead is low and people will still take it because of inertia. It'll even attract new readers, the disgruntled fringe that likes to see personal attacks on people like Marty Blum, the clergy and anybody vaguely "liberal." Just look at 11:25's comments.

Sara McCune, bless her heart, was never the answer. Surely she knows what it would take to start a new daily paper and sees what's happening to the bottom line of papers everywhere.

So, sadly, SB is stuck with the N-P, and it's time for you, me and the rest of our colleagues who value real journalism to get the hell out the first chance we get.

The N-P is dead.

7/20/2007 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point of fact: I don't even support the views on Newsroom, but I sent them money via PayPal because I do support reading a wide variety of opinions and resources.

They never thanked me or acknowledged that donation. Even with an electronic receipt or something that required no individual effort.

Nothing, except when compared to a NewsPress subscription for a year, I got a very lousy deal for my Newsroom donation for only a few weeks, and a lot less content.

The NewsPress is coming back stronger and stronger and I welcome my delivered daily. And I also strongly support the direction the Daily Sound is going and shall always love the Independent for its own brand of verve and intimacy with this town.

My wish is the Daily Sound continues to grow and becomes a delivered full service daily.

7/20/2007 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: the letter published in the NP posted above-

appalling, to read the promotion of violence written by & published by so called adults in the wake of another gang murder

7/20/2007 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my colleagues inside and outside the newsroom:

Has anyone talked with Sara Miller McCune?

Perhaps she has something to say on all of this.

7/20/2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are starting to sound like one of Wendy's over-paid PR goons. Why else would you fold so craftily in her hand?

You purport to be a union supporter inside the building, yet you advocate for giving up the fight and renewing canceled subscriptions. You side with "Dr." Laura and you lambast McCaw critic Sara McCune.

Worst, you say the war is over, and that Wendy won.

Nice try.

7/20/2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous another opinion said...

I don't know that the Laura spin is relevant. THE NEWS ROOM IS NOT THE WIN/LOSE TURNING POINT. Unless you're tired and want to give Laura PR (Wendy) the power. What you can bury is any thought of a wall between Wendy and her shills as long as they have power to misuse. The community, labor, and courts are powerless? If the community crawls into a little ball because of a charlatan, that says alot about what's happened to the town, Laura Schlessinger is our leader... or the voice of a prominent leader?. Once Craig Smith took that sappy position with her, it was the beginning of the end. He's not a "columnist" like Laura, since there is no one there to counter, she "wins" by default. Get on her bandwagon, Wendy has shown her brilliance in hiring her, "let's nuke 'al-Queda hooah!" Did anyone notice Laura's writing on Islam? She's delusional and will do her all to destroy civilization. ASAP.

7/20/2007 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regardless of what is going on or not at the Newspress, I think this blog is a valuable source for news and commentary.

I only wish you there was a way to for revenues to flow to you for maintaining this ite because I now view it daily as a source of news.

I also read the Indy, and yes, the NewsPress too. I believe there can never be too little coverage or choices.

Thank you for your efforts in providing SB with a first rate source for information.

7/20/2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Dear Anonymous no. 7,

Please explain your claim:

"The NewsPress is coming back stronger and stronger"

Cite examples.

Or, are we all supposed to swallow that just like all the editors and writers were "biased" just because the Wendy flaks (both of them) keep saying and writing that?

All these planted comments are quite a plum for Blogabarbara to be considered such a forum that matters and gets this spin so often.

7/20/2007 7:05 PM  
Anonymous lower westie said...

Lower west sider here. On Thursday the News Press ran a story about the meeting of the minds, the City Council, ABR and Planning Com., while the Daily Sound missed it. I know it's just one, but you asked for an example.

7/20/2007 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsPress asked readers for comments about the SB City Council's Blue Line Project (an anthropologist's global warming projections on SB shoreline) and published an articulate pack of them.

The winds are changing in Santa Barbara and they are very refreshing. You should not be missing out on what these new voices are saying. One needs to read widely and the NewsPress is now becoming an excellent alternative viewpoint, long missing in this town.

Excellent article also about economic vitality in Goleta with UCSB as the employment powerhouse and tech spin creating other well-paying jobs for this area.

These people can afford million dollar homes because they are talented, work hard and produce products of value. And the private tech companies are not unionized

Let there be a lesson here.

And no, I am not a NP hack - just one more long time resident who has been gravely concerned with the direction taken by city leaders in the past several years and how much damage they have done to our formerly wonderful small, locally oriented town.

The NewsPress cares more about the people who live here; not about all those who do not and cannot.

7/21/2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should Sara invest in a publication that's funded by the Teamsters and won't sell advertising or subscriptions? She didn't get rich by being dumb.

A little over three weeks until the trial -- the Baroness should be coming home soon to polish up.

Who's running the News-Press in the meantime? Any "acting Publishers" around this summer?

7/21/2007 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 2:00 PM from 5:17 AM (notice I'm not sleeping well?) -

I'm not an over-paid PR goon. I am an underpaid News-Press employee, although I have been applying for jobs to get out of that hell hole. So far, it looks bleak out there in the job market. I think I made my opinion about that horrible work place quote clear ... and so how does that make me a PR goon?

I have been supportive of the union, although I thought they made a horrible mistake -- and played right into Wendy's hands -- by starting a subscription boycott before the union was even certified. It gave her a clear field to mow down all union supporters.

And that's another thing that has disquieted me -- I voted for that voted 10 months ago, and it has still not been certified and still does not officially represent me. Newsroom workers who show loyalty to that union have been put out on the streets during that vacuum -- just ask Melinda Burns or Colby Frazier about that. So why shouldn't I be scared?

I do not like Dr. L because shes mean -- her gloating about our lack of support exposes that. But she's right -- we HAVE NO SUPPORT except token rhetoric. Have you attended any of our rallies? Nobody shows up anymore.

As far as Sara goes, she can spend her money any way she likes, just like another rich old lady who lives in this town has been doing. But when she very boldly announced that she wanted to buy the News-Press, she gave those of us inside the news-mess hope. But now I think it was just grand-standing -- she knew Wendy wouldn't take that bait.

Sara could put together a consortium to start a new DAILY, HOME-DELIVERED newspaper in this town that has entertainment, sports, business and other offerings. It would attract the best journalists this area has to offer, plus some of the business personnel who helped make the News-Press profitable at one time. But it would take a little bit of effort, which she is not willing to exert. Fine. No problem. Just shut up from now on.

As far as saying the war is over, maybe that was uttered out of frustration. But I'm pretty battle-fatigued right now, and I am ready to leave a town I love dearly despite having no decent job prospects.

Sorry 2:00, but that's where I am right now. So sue me. But you better file before Wendy does.

7/21/2007 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Added by 517 AM...

I guess I should say WHY I'm so concerned that the war is over ...

Since the firing of the eight reporters and the resignations of several dozen more, there are barely a handful of newsroom employees left who even took part in the union vote last September. My count is about 10. My guess is that most of the six (out of 39) who voted AGAINST the union in the first place are probably still there ... maybe 4 of them.

The new newsroom staffers are mostly all college kids who are getting paid peanuts. I know, because one of them showed me his paycheck ... he could be getting more at McDonalds.

The News-Press is obviously prolonging the legal battle with appeals until nearly all the union supporters have either been fired or left. Without a union officially in place to protect their employees, all Wendy needs is some vague excuse to fire somebody, like "bias in reporting" (Burns) or "causing harm to the product" (the ones who dumbly hung that subscription boycott banner over the freeway). Now, they may all get their jobs back -- in about three-five-eight years, when all the legal wrangling and appeals are finally exhausted. Without the injunction, it's just going to take that long.

So, in the meantime, Steepleton gets one of his newly hired hacks to ask for a union re-vote when it becomes legally possible sometime next year. They'll give all the young punks raises to soften their hearts and their resolve, and show them that they won't have to pay Teamsters dues anymore, and the union will be voted out sometime next year. It happened once before at the News-Press when the more employee-friendly New York Times took over.

None of the new employees goes to the union meetings. NONE. In fact, few of the old employees ever go, just the ones who have been fired. I love Dawn Hobbs and her passion, but her shrillness scares the s--- out of most of the current employees. Her subscription boycott was ill-conceived -- they should have had somebody in the community spearhead it, not the vulnerable reporters -- and that has scared off most of those who remain in the newsroom.

But most of all, a lot of us think she's unrealistic by expecting Wendy to cave in and erect that wall between opinion and news once negotiations do start with the Teamsters. Why would she? The only motivation for this owner to cave in and do that is the fear of losing talent and product quality, and she's ALREADY done that all by herself. Have you read the News-Press lately?

Wendy doesn't CARE about all that. She just wants to stroke her small little community of the rich and famous. That's why she overpaid for the damned newspaper in the first place. The Teamsters can't ruin her financially. She's too damned rich and too damned stubborn to give in on ANYTHING. Ask ex-fiance/lawyer Greg Parker, or her ex-husband, or anybody who has ever done any work for her, like contractors.

And if the SB Newsroom was only meant to be a shortterm project, than that was another HORRIBLE idea -- it just signaled to everybody (especially those fence-sitters still at the News-Press) that the union effort is weak. The recent decision of former reporter Melissa Evans, one of the union's best and most level-headed leaders, to take a job out of town was another sign. The Teamsters aren't coming up with the checks to keep their best union advocates from going broke and having to leave town.

Everything points to a sinking ship. If I'm wrong, tell me. Show me. I WANT to be wrong. But back it up with something more than just slogans and rhetoric. I've heard enough of those.

7/21/2007 1:24 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

The Newspress got ONE story that the other two newspapers did not, and it invited letters about a subject but did not publish ANY letters opposing the editorial view it already holds.

Shall we list all the stories and news articles that the Newspress lost as scoops by its competitors, including SB Newsroom?
Merely regurgitating press releases from the police and sheriff does not make it a real newspaper.

Just read the sordid history at

7/21/2007 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, and how about that turtle from Ventura that's been on page 1? Poor thing, but on the front page for four or five times? Such over-exposure is really weird, but here in Wendyland we've come to think of it normal. Ban the bias, Wendy, ban the bias?

7/22/2007 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love Sunday's NP editorial encouraging people to "not be rude" - appearing on the same day as yet another vitriolic column by TA and another rude commentary by Dr. Laura. Classic, just classic.

7/22/2007 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are Wendy McCaw, Nip von Weaselburger and Travis Armtrong delusional or just plain dumb?

Their Sunday editorial today ("Don't Let Rudeness Prevail") astonishingly ends,

"let's all vow to begin to do our part by saying "good day" to our neighbors and being a bit kinder to those we encounter."

Are you kidding me?

This from a woman who is:

--suing her editor-in-chief who quit for $25 million,

--suing the Independent,

--suing the American Journalism Review reporter,

--fighting with her own neighbors through her homeowner's association,

--starting a trial next month with the NLRB, which is prosecuting her for much worse than "rudeness,"

--threatening local shop owners,

--sliming her former editor on the front page of her newspaper for child pornography,

--going after local ministers,

--firing long-time dedicated News-Press employees for questioning her skills and temperament,

--attacking local chambers of commerce,

--attacking local leaders,

--allowing routine shotgun blasts from Travis Armstrong and Laura Schlessinger against multipe local targets?

"What lazy, cheap, power-hungry hypocrites," as Schlessinger said in a different context last week, before complaining about hostile and mean bloggers this week.

Delusional, dumb or something worse?

Do they think readers are stupid? No wonder we are quitting the paper in droves.

7/22/2007 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a normal daily newspaper in the United States, readers would read an ironic editorial like today's "Don't let rudeness prevail," and write appropriate letters to the editor pointing out what the paper itself is doing to destroy civility in our city and suggesting how it can be a leader in turning matters around.

In a normal daily newspaper the opinion page would publish the letters.

Those kinds of letters to the editor don't happen here, because the newspaper won't print them.

Longtime readers have given up and have had to turn to the exploding blog scene to have a voice.

The News-Press will reap what it sows.

7/22/2007 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis Armstrong makes a big deal of his walking everywhere when he lost his license last year from his world famous drunk driving arrest.

His drunk driving the wrong way down a street became world famous because Wendy McCaw unethically killed the story about what his sentence was.

Was Sunday's editorial about too much "rudeness" inspired by Mr. Armstrong being frightened as he walked from his home where he testified he saw the union guy lurking to his Ivory Tower where he attacks people in print?

Or is it because the famously reclusive Wendy McCaw got scared walking past some homeless as she actually came out of her hole to grab a bite on State Street?

How often are schoolyard bullies really physical cowards?

7/22/2007 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's news to me anyone outside Wendy's circle exists. Laura made a big point, she doesn't acknowledge anonymous, unless it's hers. How can you be rude if you don't exist?

7/22/2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous DK said...

I'm confused. "What lazy, cheap, power-hungry hypocrites". That's from Dr. Laura? Did she say where the hostile blogs are?


I'd like to read the hostile ones. Redundant I stop reading, including her. She can do the same. Hostile can be good.

7/22/2007 9:18 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Some comments here can get a bit hostile -- just read the post about the suicide barriers on the bridge. We don't like it but we know it's part of what you get with blogging, no?

7/23/2007 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can get this to work....
No wonder the bloggers are winning

Reading that brought Wendy to mind. She might have put the physiologist up to the hostile blogging remark.
She knows she lost anything of blogs!
August is almost here.

7/23/2007 3:20 PM  

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