Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, September 02, 2007

From Inside the Witness Box: Scoop on the NLRB Hearing

Community Post Written by Bob Guiliano

When the NLRB prosecution of the Santa Barbara News-Press resumes this week, courtroom observers should pay keen attention to the strategy pursued by labor board attorneys, in contrast with Barry Cappello & Co.

While NLRB attorney Steven Wyllie told me to simply tell the truth on the stand, Cappello took a more complicated route of twisting the facts and distorting the truth to build false premises leading to false conclusions in his cross-examination of me. He spewed out smokescreens to cloud the courtroom with a haze of confusion.

Example No. 1: After I filed my complaint in early February with the National Labor Relations Board that my firing occured after not giving one reporter an unmerited written reprimand, Wyllie called me to say that the News-Press responded that oh, yeah, Guiliano was really fired for falsely accusing another reporter of plagiarism.

Cappello's strategy to show that I was fired for poor performance fell apart when he learned that I had kept copies of the stories, proving that quotes were plagiarized from an Associated Press story that I had given the reporter for background information. With the News-Press caught in a lie, Cappello now had to twist the facts and distort the truth to show in court that I was guilty, instead, of not giving that reporter a written reprimand for plagiarizing. Cappello knew full well that I had e-mailed Scott Steepleton of my concerns, and Scott never asked me to issue this reporter a reprimand. Since this reporter was non-union and considered a loyal McCaw subject, I was given great leeway to work with her to resolve even such a serious reporting offense as plagiarizing.

Example No. 2: My being "caught in a lie" on the stand about being concerned of a possible sexual harassment claim that might be made against me. I was warned before my first day on the job to watch out for two non-union female reporters hired after the mass exodus. First, they were new to print journalism and their reporting needed lots of editing; second, the unionized reporters and copy editors were suspicious that they were planted in the newsroom to spy and to possibly testify in January that the union vote was coerced. And I was told that one of them filed a sexual harassment claim against an editor who had chastised her for a poorly written story, and that I should watch my back too.

Since my answer on the stand to Cappello's battery of questions had to be limited to yes or no, it was impossible, thus, to explain, that yes, I was concerned about a possible complaint, but no, I had not done anything to merit one.

Example No. 3: Reporter Leana Orsua refused to write the story about the Jan. 9 NLRB hearing, telling me that part of the reason was her boss, Scott, had lied on the stand. Leana was present the day that the unionized reporters attempted to deliver a letter peacefully to Wendy McCaw, asking for clarification of beats and a wall between the newsroom and editorial page. They were NOT stomping their feet as Scott testifed. Well, I had to relay to Scott, my boss, that we were not going to have a story the next day. But I did not have to reveal what Leana said about Scott, because I did not want her to be fired for being honest with me.

And that was the day that I learned that the suspicions floating around the newsroom about Leana were false. She was not a spy, she was not going to testify that the union vote was coerced, she had the guts to stick to her principles and not report as truth what her boss lied about on the stand, and she was not inclined to file an unwarranted harassment complaint against any editor.

I personally feel that Leana is one of the nicest, most genuine persons I have ever met in my 30 years in the journalism profession. I was determined to file off the rough edges to help hone her into the fine print reporter she could be. Today I am proud to watch her as a broadcast journalist. I learned by working and talking with her that she had been forced earlier in her career to stop giving credit to outside sources of quotes in her broadcast stories, because her producer would hassle her about the short time alloted for her broadcasts. She was told, "If it was said, it was said. Just report it!" I told her that the producer was wrong! Part of my job was to watch KEYT 3 News at 11 p.m. to report to Scott if they used any of our stories without attributing them to the News-Press.

Cappello also hit me with a line of questioning as to why I did not report to Mrs. McCaw that her top editor had lied on the stand. He also made it sound like I had firsthand knowledge of a serious crime that I should have reported to police. Yeah right, like I'm going to tell the person who is manipulating Scott like a puppet that the strings got tangled up. That would have only served to get Leana in trouble. Or like I'm going to call 911 and say, "I just became aware of a crime. Please arrest my boss for extreme embellishment!" I could picture the men in white coats coming to take me away.

Example No. 4: Last but not least, my attempts to be humorous in two e-mails to Mrs. McCaw. Cappello highlighted only my tail-end jokes, but refrained from revealing the other 98 percent of my e-mails giving Mrs. McCaw serious advice on how to turn the newspaper around and get it back on course. That information will come to light at another time.

So, courtroom observers, bring your gas masks should you venture into the courtroom this week because I'm sure there will be more smokescreens filling the air. I'd recommend reviewing any books on Logic and Probability, or read a Sherlock Holmes novel to see how he uses deductive reasoning to solve crimes. You'll be better equipped to analyse Cappello's faulty line of logic.

P.S. I was not nervous on the stand as reported in some media accounts. Actually, I had been practicing Transcendental Meditation in the attorney chambers, so my alpha brain waves were practically at the level of a deep sleep. I had to snap myself alert and get psyched up before taking the stand. I thought of Muhammed Ali playing rope-a-dope with George Foreman as I anticipated the pounding I was about to receive from Cappello. If I was fidgeting, that was me blocking some of the blows. I figured he would kick my butt in that court, but I would fight back on redirect testimony and also in the court of public opinion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please stop this guy before he blogs again. Note: Bob, for some misguided reason you put yourself in this mess. And now you're done. Go home. Get another job--and learn to spell. It's analyze, not analyse.

9/02/2007 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile we wait for a new Political Play of the Week...the award has seemed to be a bit of a mixed bag so far. Wonder who is next?

9/02/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Whether you agree with Bob or not -- I appreciate him being willing to say something about the experience of being on the witness stand. As for the Political Play -- we'll see what CS comes up with this week!

9/02/2007 8:18 PM  
Anonymous boB said...

This guy is crazy! ---> 8-O <--- Bob G.

"P.S. I was not nervous on the stand as reported in some media accounts. Actually, I had been practicing Transcendental Meditation in the attorney chambers, so my alpha brain waves were practically at the level of a deep sleep. I had to snap myself alert and get psyched up before taking the stand. I thought of Muhammed Ali playing rope-a-dope with George Foreman as I anticipated the pounding I was about to receive from Cappello. ........"

Fortunately we spell our name differently! He's Bob! But

I'm boB

9/02/2007 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Bob Guiliano said...

Yo, anon 7:51, I stand corrected on analyze. I thought about that word and should have doublechecked it in the dictionary.

Yeah, I put myself in this mess. I've entered worse messes earlier in my career, and walked out alive, having made a difference for the better. There were always casualties, however, to me and people close to me. And each time I got burned out and thought, never again.

But, there's something about injustice, bullies and corruption that just goes against my grain, and I can't just stand by and watch good people getting hurt. Maybe you can.

I did not like what was and is happening at the News-Press to good people, their careers and reputations. Now I've received a taste of what they've been experiencing. And it's not pleasant.

And, yo boB, you just might be right. I may be crazy for caring about other people.

For the record, boB, I've been practicing TM since I learned how to do it in Isla Vista in 1971 while a student at Santa Barbara City College. Read up on it and biofeedback and how brain waves can be monitored to show the beneficial effect of meditation.

Think what you want. I did what I thought was right. What are the rest of you critics doing besides hiding behind anonymity and taking pot shots?

9/03/2007 4:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the only reason you keep getting the Blogabarbara soapbox to stand on is because you say bad things about the News Press. Content-wise, what you have to say is empty, self-serving, and meaningless. You blew it on the witness stand, now just go sit in a corner and be quiet.

9/03/2007 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bob,

I think I can speak for the rest of the few surviving newsroom staffers -- thanks for your courage, your integrity and your honesty. Don't fret over some of these blogger posts, since they are obviously being written by either Nipper or Travis, or their henchmen. And we all know what Capello is all about.

I think you are right-on about Leana, too. I felt badly for her because she was thrust into a situation for which she wasn't quite prepared. There are major differences between being a television reporter and a newspaper reporter, and she had to make that transition on the fly ... and while covering MAJOR stories usually left for a veteran. She also had to do this while others suspected her of being a management plant.

But Leana is a good, bright person, who would've been a fine newspaper reporter had she been given the time and guidance.

It is just sad that Wendy and the rest of her Third Reich have caused so much pain for so many people. And just think of all the good will she could have created with her millions — outside of the animal kingdom, that is! It's just sad.

9/03/2007 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, Why don't you go next to the LA Times and try to clean up the mess made when the Tribune bought it? After than you can take on the Wall Street Journal and Rupert Murdoch. Chill dude, publishing is full of crazies, and there's not a lot a single editor can do about it. And your 15 minutes with the News Press is long past. Good luck.

9/03/2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm suprised to read these responses to Bob G in stating his story. I really enjoy reading what he has to say & admire his courage in doing so.

9/03/2007 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many here have had the experience of being a witness in a hearing? It is Cappello's job to use any method he can to discredit Bob and make him look bad in order to make Wendy look good. That is how cases like this are won! Before you judge Bob, wait and see what happens when the NLRB lawyers question him.

9/03/2007 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is just sad that Wendy and the rest of her Third Reich have caused so much pain for so many people.

Sara, is it OK to use Nazi Germany as reference to people in town? If so, I can't wait to use this on other people like Jennifer McGovern and other paid lackeys of Michael Towbes.

What is your definition of a public figure? Neither McCaw nor McGovern are public officials or civil servants. Jennifer McGovern works for a non-profit that is constantly lobbying public policy. She speaks publicly and is quoted in local newspapers, furthering her boss's agenda of dense development.

Let's get some Hitler smack on!

P.S. If you find some new reason to block this, I will repost this and make sure that it satisfies the ever-changing guidelines.

9/03/2007 6:21 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

No -- it's not the best metaphor and I would rather not see it here. I don't however agree with your analogy about McGovern being a public figure...your comments in the past have been rather pointed and I have rejected them for good reason. If you are so free to question mine, what's your agenda with her? Why aren't you defending Bob?

I am also a bit more likely to let a tough comment that I am not sure about go if it has to do with a true public figure...if you don't like what I've allowed, let me know as you did here...I think we can look past the Hitler smackdown, however, as it was used as a metaphor for her entourage of lawyers and mad men.

9/03/2007 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Bob worked at the News-Press did he get paid by the word? Who edited this editor?

9/03/2007 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still inside (supporting the union), and it's not what a newspaper should be like by a longshot but it's nothing like the Third Reich.
Nor do I believe all postings that are critical of Bob G. are from TKA, Nipper or the "henchmen." I know there are people in town not connected at all to Wendy but also not all that supportive of "our side"; I've talked to them, and tried to present our case as best I can without insulting them.

Any of those posters reading this, I won't turn you off by calling you a henchman, but I'd just ask you read over Bob G.'s posting carefully and consider that he's the sincere and honest journalist I know him to be, who acted with integrity on the Anna Davison matter and other instances.

9/03/2007 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, now is the time your "men in white coats" dream needs to be explored. You make Wendy look like a genius. The SBNP should have looked at your God!!!

9/04/2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello 9:17pm!

Thank you for recognizing those of us who are not part of the industry, but are readers and support the Newspress!

Yes, maybe Bob is sincere. And maybe Anna should get her job back. But as for the reporters who stood on the bridge advocating for the downfall of their employer, they were asking to be fired. It looks to me like Roberts and McCaw had a rivalry going on, and when Roberts walked, some of his loyal co-workers got ruffled and created a mess. Plain and simple. I have seen many biased reports come out of these reporters. Usually, the bias was by omission of one side, or by using favorable quotes from favored people set against awkward quotes from those they disagreed with.

The Newspress gives a voice to those who do not necessarily drink the city's and county's kool-aid. Thanks be to McCaw.

9/04/2007 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 9:17 p.m. ...

Were you working at the News-Press when we got the memo threatening us with dismissal if we spoke to any other media outlet about the paper?

Were you working at the News-Press when we were forced to sign an affidavit saying we had not in fact talked to any other media outlet about the paper?

Were you working at the News-Press when reporter after reporter was escorted out of the building by a security guard and not allowed to clean out his desk?

Yeah, it's the Third Reich, all right.

Either you are among the opportunists who were hired after last year's meltdown, or you just haven't been paying attention. Or maybe you don't care about all those who have had their lives destroyed.

Or maybe you just don't have a clue about what the Third Reich really was.

9/04/2007 8:19 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

"It's analyze, not analyse."

Both are in the dictionary -- "analyse" "Chiefly British".

The other comments against Bob are equally trite or content free. OTOH, he should take Craig Smith's advice in his blog today and stop talking about the case until it's over.

9/04/2007 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found Bob G's posts here interesting but as a non-practicing lawyer and who cancelled my subscription in support of the journalists, I've wondered why Guiliano would write so much while the hearing is going on, that it can't help but help the N-P.

See Craig Smith's comments in his today's blog:
"I'm sure he means well but didn't he give Cappello enough to use against him when he was on the stand testifying? If nothing else he's giving Cappello ammo to use in his examination of other witnesses. He may even be earning himself an encore appearance at the hearing. Unlike a case in a court of law where prior to the hearing the sides have to exchange all of the evidence they have collected there is no "discovery" in NLRB proceedings. Any extra-hearing explanations have the potential to be a bonus for the adverse party in that such explanations can alert them to facts that they may not have been aware of."

9/04/2007 9:34 AM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

As someone who's been vocal opponent of Wendy, Nipper, and Travis from day one, I feel the need to jump in here and state the obvious ... Bob hurt the union's case with his testimony. And -- if you read Craig Smith's blog today -- he may be continuing to hurt it by posting these blog entries.

9/04/2007 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 8:19 am

No I wasnt there when you got the memo but you know something, almost every large press organization has those rules in effect. No one but the spokesperson talks other press organizations or you risk losing your job, thats norm for the industry. Of course its also the norm for everyone to run off and give the inside scoop as well they just have the brains not to do it on the corp. email account or cell phone.

As for guards walking people out Ive been around during layoffs when that has happened, again nothing new.

Now if you want to bitch about the lack of ethics at the New Press and failure to live up to accepted journalistic norms you would have a argument.

However when you throw around terms like 3rd Reich in what is standard for almost any newsroom (and almost any large company) these days you show your lack of work experience.

9/04/2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone stupid enough to have a tear in their eye for "misunderstood" Bob Guiliano, the facts are he would berate Leana Orsua's writing and reporting abilities before all her peers in the newsroom. But most importantly, she was never there to defend herself. Leana is the pretty girl in high school who would never acknowledge the existence of a Bob Guiliano, so he demeaned her at every chance he got, criticized her before her fellow reporters and bad-mouthed her to other editors who had to deal with her. Bob's demise at the News-Press was never about Leana Orsua or her alleged plagiarism or alleged sexual harassment threat. Believe me -- she could have cared less about him because she was in WAY OVER HER HEAD, just a deer caught in the headlights. Unfortunately, Bob has become a tragic figure; he only worked at the N-P for a little more than 2 months, not even enough time to qualify for benefits. Oh, that's not true -- Wendy gives benefits the first day you're employed at the paper. How come no blogger never mentions that? I guess they use selective facts in their blogging. But back to Bob -- he really needs to get a life and stop bad-mouthing people because life's too short to burn bridges.

9/05/2007 12:01 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

12:01 AM -- far from selective facts, I didn't know that about the benes and that is not at all typical. Good for the News-Press on that matter....

9/05/2007 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 10:38 ... You make some valid points about how companies operate. But really, especially last summer and fall, there was an intentional, oppressive cloud of fear put upon the newsroom. It included the surveillance of anyone that they considered — in their Captain Queeg minds — of being "the enemy." Sarah Sinclair was tailed all the way to a convention in Las Vegas, for God's sake. The security guard admitted it when Sarah confronted him about why he was there.

Read what the former Santa Ynez columnist Etling wrote about how this was all affecting his daughter, Leah, who called him in tears about needing to quit her reporting job before she had a nervous breakdown. Why do you think so many quit last fall without having other jobs to go to? Why do you think, in this time of job scarcity in the newspaper business, that so many quit. It's why you were able to get a job there.

But I guess it is one of those things where you had to have been there at the time.

And to 12:01 AM, before kissing Wendy's feet about giving Bob G immediate benefits, realize this -- they were struggling to find anyone -- ANYONE -- to take any of the management positions at the paper because of the conditions there, so they sweetened the pot for Bob, and expected him to do their bidding. He didn't, and so he was fired.

And so guess what Wendy is doing now with all of her newsroom hires? She's making them go through a temp agency so they DON'T GET ANY BENEFITS AT ALL. ZERO. So don't give me this crap about what a sweetheart she is. She's a mean, old rich lady.

9/05/2007 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Bob Guiliano said...

Hey anonymous 12:01 AM. That is so much garbage and you know it if you worked in the newsroom and were present on a daily basis.

I came on board and assessed the reporters' abilities and saw who needed the most help, who needed the least, and acted accordingly.

I never berated Leana Orsua, but worked with her as a teacher would tutor a student, strictly professional, with the best intentions. Berating means to scold angrily and at length. I always spoke to her calmly and supportively. I would listen to concerns about her reporting from copy editors and other reporters, and take note. But I did not go around bad-mouthing her as you falsely claim.

But you are right that my demise at the News-Press was never about Leana. It was the News-Press who dragged her into this mess when trying to create a reason to justify retroactively why I was fired after I filed a complaint with the NLRB. And I called her and warned her immediately that I was sorry they were doing so, but that I would have to defend myself.

And as for the pretty girl in high school remark, I went to an all-boys Catholic high school, Archbishop Molloy, in New York. The Marist Brothers influenced students' character as they pursued their goal to teach us "not for school, but for life." They taught us to respect women, and also taught us to fight for what is right when necessary.

9/05/2007 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well for old timers Bob G brings us some nostalgia, he has referenced at times, Laurel & Hardy, the friendly ghost (Casper I assume), a fight from the 70's between Foreman and Ali and also the well known detective Sherlock Holmes. Thanks, Bob.

9/05/2007 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So.....the News-Press has fallen to having temps writing Santa Barbara's "first draft of history"? Without benefits?

No way!

Does Wendy and the Nipper not like reporters and editors?


Why, then, are they in the newspaper business?

Wouldn't she be happiest if she had no reporters to worry about?

And no union?

It's easy, Wendy.

Just sell and go back from whence you came.


9/05/2007 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something that bugs me... for a long time after the Teamsters were brought in, it seemed to me that McCaw et al. would say: don't believe this `ethical reporting' stuff, all these reporters really want is money, benefits, and generally a cushier existence.

But now Cappello is arguing something quite different before the NLRB. He's saying that since the reporters really want ethical reporting at the News-Press, that does not qualify as a union-protected issue, so the NLRB should deny. He's saying it is *not* about money, benefits, etc, so the NLRB must deny.

How come no-one has hoisted McCaw et al. with their own petard over this turnabout? Would be great to have a compendum of News-Press statements that document their initial assertions that this was `all about the money'.

9/06/2007 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob G.: perhaps you don't want to remember the time when Leana Orsua was covering a trial in Santa Maria and you didn't like her story, so you scolded her on the phone, then being the "savior of the News-Press" called up the Lompoc newspaper as a "reader" to find out the "real story." After that little-man show, you stood up in front of all the black-shirted reporters and berated Leana to them. Maybe Dale Carnegie's book told you to backstab someone in the name of "tutoring." You're just clueless.

9/06/2007 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:30- Interesting point which got me to fantasizing about what if I had the kind of money she has and what if I had always wanted to own a newspaper. What a joy be to be in the position to pay the NP staff well. How satisfying that would be. To help create a thriving, positive, exciting business.

9/06/2007 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Bob Guiliano said...

Hey, anonymous 8:36 PM, I want you to quit dragging Leana into this. You are a gutless, wimpy coward and by what you have written you have revealed who you are.

The fact is, only one person in the newsroom gave News-Press management the idea to use Leana as a scapegoat in trying to find dirt on me retroactively. I knew from sources inside who kept me posted of who was saying what after I was gone.

That person was hired after being fired at another newspaper. Yep, the News-Press was indeed desperate to fill its management posts. And this new hire, equally desperate to do or say anything, has succeeded in keeping his job.

As her editor, I had a valid question about Leana's story on the trial that night. I did not "scold" her, but explained what we needed to do to improve the story. She was sitting right next to me.

She went back to her desk, reopened the story on her computer, and made the fixes that we had discussed. Typical routine that goes on every day between reporters and editors.

You refer to Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Yes, I tossed the name of that book around, hoping people like you would read it and learn something.

By the way you express yourself, you show that you're "just clueless" how you come across as a bitter low-life, willing to hurt innocent people like Leana just to kiss up to your bosses. You make me sick to my stomach.

9/06/2007 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Bob G. and anonymous:

Would the both of you please chill.

The newsroom is a very unhappy place these days. The last thing we need is your feuding to result in retaliation against anyone still inside.


9/07/2007 1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this Bob G. guy for real? He's hanging himself with every word he types.

9/07/2007 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobby, unless Leana was Superwoman who could be in two places at once, you are again wrong. How could she possibly be sitting next to you when she was just leaving the Lompoc office when you offered her your TLC over the phone!

9/07/2007 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe Bob grew in the 50's and 60's and watched a lot of the Superman TV series. Maybe he's trying to be like Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen trying to be Clark Kent trying to be Superman. Did he ever rile up anybody at the News-Press enough to shout "Great Caesar's Ghost!" like Perry White who was the head of the Daily Planet? Remember the movie "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?" Now we have "Mad Bob". Tina T sang the theme song, wasn't it "We don't need another hero, we don't need to find the way home, we just need for Bob to get beyond... the News-Press Thunderdome."

9/10/2007 10:57 AM  

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