Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Was He Thinking? TKA Spreads Falsehoods Again

I'm surprised I hadn't heard about this until I read it in The Santa Barbara Independent online today.

Mayor Blum resigning? Has Travis Armstrong gone off the deep end? If there wasn't a reason for him to step down or be fired in the past -- there is one now. Ridiculous. The man lives in his own little world and thinks little of the impact of his words and The Santa Barbara News-Press on others.

I'd like to see how he responds. This one ain't over.


Anonymous David Pritchett (the real one) said...

A traditional political adage is that a failing attack on a leader only make him or her stronger in the end and the attacker even weaker.

The day has just become a lot sooner when TKA gets shoved into a closet office at the Young America Foundation to be a "special projects" writer no one reads from a hastily fabricated Libertarian Think Tank.

Warning: subscriptions falling fast again!

7/12/2008 10:13 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

I am fairly sure the actual more concise and accurate word Sara de la Guerra really should have used in the headline here was not "falsehoods" but LIES.

7/12/2008 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Straight from the Horse's Ass said...

Here is the actual fantasy in question, excerpted from the Saturday TKA opinion essay:

"Now Mrs. Blum, a political supporter has divulged, has been quietly raising the matter of her resignation with friends and family because of the outrage over her job performance. The anger toward Mrs. Blum clearly has taken a toll on her, according to sources.

To save face, Mrs. Blum would cite health concerns as the reason for stepping down, I'm told.

Will it happen?

There's speculation Mrs. Blum has been discussing a possible resignation with close associates, family and friends, not because she really wants to resign -- but because she hopes to get an outpouring of moral support urging her to stick around to prop up her ego.

In any case, the simple fact that the R-word is on the table is a sign of how far Mrs. Blum has fallen.

One city watchdog compared her remaining months in office to those of the Bush administration -- disliked but in reality pretty much irrelevant."

Pretty cool, huh? Unnamed imagined sources not even vetted first in an actual news article. Just the integrity and credibility of TKA himself as the entire basis of this work of fiction.

7/12/2008 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

Travis gives Wendy plausible deniability. Since nothing he writes will make it into the paper without her tacit approval, she can have her attacks without her name attached to them.

I'd be surprised if there is an apology from either of them, so no one should hold their breath waiting for one.

Even real newspapers are having difficulties, so the problems must be magnified at Wendy's rag. He might be looking to bail. Perhaps he's gathering clips for an audition at Fox "News."

7/13/2008 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Pants on Fire said...

Travis is a pathetic excuse for an editorialist. He writes and acts in the real world as if he has a license to make stuff up, though he goes the next step and purports to cite (fictional) "sources", just like a real journalist would. But if, as two federal labor judges have already said, he is willing to lie under oath, including totally creating an accusation out of whole cloth, then lying in an editorial, where facts are nothing (to him) and opinion and snideness are everything, it's a breeze.

7/13/2008 6:28 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I actually read my first TKA editorial this past 10 days. You can't find greater self-absorption anywhere else unless you read Dr. Laura's columns.

7/13/2008 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Watching said...

As someone who's been quietly watching this whole thing coming down - I'm pretty sure he's got it right this time.

This will be interesting, no doubt.

7/13/2008 7:54 AM  
Blogger johnsanroque said...

To its credit, Blogabarbara has been trying hard to ignore Armstrong and the News-Press in recent months. I have as well. I admit to reading it occasionally if someone has left one around, but it’s become irrelevant to me in a way I never thought would be possible. Newspapers are daily part of my life—never to be replaced by the Internet or TV. Not reading my hometown’s daily would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

After several years of listening to fixed positions on either side of the News-Press meltdown, I don’t hear people discussing the paper anymore. Those of us who used to believe that we needed to challenge a mean-spirited personal attack, an obvious distortion, or outright lies in Armstrong’s editorials or opinion pieces did so because we thought there was a standard of journalism that we were fighting to maintain. If we could convince the News-Press that they were trashing the concept of journalism, we might get back a credible daily paper.

My amateur psychoanalysis of Armstrong is that he’s reacting to people like me who no longer jump at the bait he throws out to us. There’s no sense engaging in a fight to maintain journalistic standards when the News-Press is not interested in the subject. Reacting to the crap that Armstrong writes gives it the appearance of debate. As more and more people ignore him, Armstrong is forced to resort to more ludicrous charges and attacks. This latest one against Blum is not isolated—it’s the most recent in a series that started a few weeks ago, but in this one, he goes way beyond even his own level of unattributed smears. It’s like Helene-gate, the issue that no one other than Armstrong ever heard of, cared about, or believed. Even after it was dissected and explained, Armstrong still continues to talk of it as though it’s an actual issue. It’s the same with Blum. Armstrong raises the issue, beats it to death, and then pretends that there are people other than himself who believe it—none of them named, of course.

It makes you wonder how long this can go on. How much more irrational can Armstrong become before something stops him and the News-Press? His boss has no inclination to fire him—far from it—so I guess we’ll see what he needs to do to keep our attention.

7/13/2008 8:31 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Perhaps I am a bit too PC to use "lies"...and Watching -- why would she so vehemently deny in The Indy article? Now she might just do it because Travis says?

7/13/2008 8:55 AM  
Blogger nightship538 said...

I stopped reading the NP two years ago. Most of my colleagues and friends do not read the NP. There is nothing in there for me, certainly no local news or columnists or anything the Daily Sound, Indpendent, Noozhawk, or L.A. Times can't provide for me.

I did see a copy of the NP during the 4th of July weekend, and the thing that struck me was that while Goleta was burning, the front page of Wendy's paper was bemoaning the lack of Gardenburgers.

It is so ironic that the last couple of times I've been in Costco I've seen the Nipster himself cruising the meat section with that smarmy, used-car salesman smirk of his. No Gardenburgers for him!

7/13/2008 9:05 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

John S.R., The News-Press is a major reason why I have abandoned the printed media for the digital media in order to get "the news". Other than that the Daily Sound looks better every day.

7/13/2008 9:09 AM  
Anonymous bigger picture said...

I am as vehement as everyone else about how crappy of a rag the NP has become, and wouldn't use it to clean up my dog's poop at this point.

That being said, I haven't seen a lot of discussion here about the bigger picture of the gang issue, which is what's loading Travis' ammunition clip.

Although I don't specifically blame the Mayor or Cam Sanchez for the gang issues, I certainly haven't seen any real leadership or proposed solutions coming out of City Hall.

They all show up at press conferences (including Salud) looking dapper and hanging their heads as one does in public after a tragedy occurs, but other than soundly rejecting the gang injunction that is used in other places like Oxnard, none of them has proposed any alternatives.

7/13/2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Watching said...

Sara -

I believe that she may be vehemently denying it because she wasn't quite ready to announce it yet. Perhaps someone close to the situation spilled the beans?

7/13/2008 10:03 AM  
Anonymous infomaniac said...

Meanwhile, I'm surprised that no one commented on the new site for local news:

It's pretty neat and you can subscribe so it comes to you in an email. Just one more nail in the coffin of the News-Press.

A few of my friends still subscribe to the News-Press because they think they have to. They should cancel for just 30 days and try alternative news sources, of which there are many. I'll bet after 30 days, most would not go back to the News-Press, at least not until Travis was gone and real reporters came back.

7/13/2008 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Just askin said...

It's a pretty irrational attack, even by McCaw/TKA hate-Marty standards -- is he drinking again?

7/13/2008 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Get real said...

The only way one can publish the "she's hitting the exit" story is if 1) he's got her dead to rights and there's something that makes resignation inevitable, or 2) he's a liar and doesn't care about the consequences -- that is, he knows what result he wants and is willing to misinterpret or fabricate a "source" to get him there, knowing no one can challenge him to reveal it (since Wendy loves the enemy smear more than ethics). Clearly Travis has given Blum new incentive to finish out her term, since, barring some "inevitable" factor she is not going to allow him to crow and take credit in his post-(Blum) resignation column. What this shows is Travis can't have thought this through and is at best blurting, rather than writing, editorials, because #1 seems not possible and #2 has occurred regularly.

Another way of looking at this is, this is the "wall" in reverse: if opinion is not supposed to "bleed" into factual reporting, then, Travis perversely "reasons", facts don't count on the opinion side! I think you've got it, Trav!

7/13/2008 4:32 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Bigger Picture above is missing some of the point.

While the paper pages of the Newspress really and truly are unsuitable for picking up dog poop, the plastic bag sleeve in which the paper is delivered makes an excellent dog poop collection bag with its high length-to-width ratio. Several dog deposits indeed can be acquired in one such bag, and a knot readily can be tied to seal it all.

Indeed, using the newspaper bags as dog poop collectors indeed has become the Highest And Best use for the Newspress!

7/13/2008 5:53 PM  
Anonymous wrong way again? said...

Does McCaw "get" that her editorial writer is dragging her down along with the paper?

7/13/2008 9:15 PM  
Anonymous NewsPressie said...

Travis is so good when he deals with development and land issues. Really good. And effective.

I am sorry he occasionally drops down into these personal hit pieces against female politicians. They are silly and mean at the same time.

I wish he could just stick to those issues where he excells and has a sympathetic following. This one against Marty was really repulsive and he did not need to do this at all.

The NewsPress is fine. All newspapers are suffering. NewsPress columns remain first rate. It still is a viable source of local information, advertising, public announcements and occasional worthy local feature pieces.

C'mon NewsPress -you do a lot of things well. We want to still like you. Just drop those really mean personal attacks that simply repeat exaggerations and distortions.

You can do so much good, but hey, look at all the reader response you just generated from your written words. What can I say, you still have the ability to arouse passionate response.

7/13/2008 9:29 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Dear Travis,

Thank you for everything you do.



P.S. Marty very much deserves everything you are dishing out.

7/13/2008 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Too many Tootsie Rolls in this Sandbox said...

Just got back from a vacation out of state...reading real newspapers was refreshing. The contrast was particulary stark since the first NP I picked up was TKA's first attack after the 4th. It was similar to expecting a glass of cold, refreshing water with dinner and being served rotten milk. But like a fly drawn to roadkill I read the next 2 days and you know what? He isn't worth the effort. TKA is predictable, vain and morally bankrupt. Beyond prurient entertainment value.

7/13/2008 11:52 PM  
Anonymous More than shot credibility said...

If the Mayor was considering resignation, why not a real news story -- from an objective, unbiased reporter -- identifying sources, with a comment from the Mayor?

This is getting creepy, even for a McCaw/von Wiesnerberger "newspaper."

7/14/2008 8:08 AM  
Anonymous what are these "leaders" thinking? said...

Infantile -- from both directions.

7/14/2008 8:10 AM  
Anonymous It's all about me said...

In today's Travistorial, he perversely claims credit for the Mayor not resigning, and does a revisionist take on his own earlier pieces, of course never letting anyone know the ID of his source(s). Usually when a pol resigns, it's because there is some contemporaneous and relatively serious scandal (e.g., Spitzer) or other unhappy event, not one editorial writer's campaign based on enmity. That quality of makng something out of nothing is what makes Armstrong . . . unique.

7/14/2008 8:51 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

I think JSRs comments are summed nicely by the phrase...

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."

There's a term for certain people in India...Untouchable. It would seem that TKA has become an untouchable in SB.

7/14/2008 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Hot topic said...

Travis's column generated 21 and counting responses. Not bad for a lazy Sunday unread paper.

7/14/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Read All About It said...

Let's see:

Gap fire posting = 0 comments
Caruso Party posting = 9 comments
Mel's closing posting = 7 comments
TKA posting = 26 comments and rising

Post anything about Travis or Wendy and there are always 20 to 60 comments. The NewsPress no longer relevant? Hardly. It's the only topic that keeps this blog going.

Johnsanroque's comment is particularly amusing. He says, "I don't hear people discussing the paper anymore" but writes four paragraphs on the subject!


Keep it up. You're driving these people nuts and I love it!

7/14/2008 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

I don't have to read the paper to know that Travis is ...

7/14/2008 6:15 PM  
Anonymous 'till i'm blue in the face said...

I've said it many times on this blog since the NP fiasco happened and I'll say it again:

Those of you that keep acknowledging Travis, Wendy, the Baron and the News-Press are giving them energy and a purspose for being in Santa Barbara.

"read all about it" is unfortunately correct. It seems to generate copious amounts of discussion about how bad or wrong TA and the NP are when he writes something inflamatory.

Let's all just stop giving it energy. It's really simple. I did it. Here's what I did:

1. Canceled my NP subscription (the day after they fired Jerry Roberts).

2. Never log onto their site.

3. Whenever I encounter the paper laying around (at my office, breakfast shop, etc.) I quietly bundle it up and throw it in the recycling bin.

4. Whenever someone asks whether or not I saw something in the NP, or the latest TA Op-Ed, I simply tell them no, I don't read the NP. If they ask why, I tell them.

5. Sign up for daily email delivery of EdHat or Noozhawk, or visit the web sites of Indy, Daily Sound, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, etc. Whatever you fancy.

It's really easy. I've never regretted a day since.

Until we all do this, they will always be in our community and lives...

7/14/2008 6:46 PM  
Blogger johnsanroque said...

Reply to Read all about it:

Let me explain it in terms that you might understand. The News-Press is irrelevant as a credible source of information, but when the editorials say, with no factual basis, that the Mayor of Santa Barbara is about to resign--that deserves some comment. Your advice to Armstrong to "keep it up" shows that you have as little concern for the truth as he does.

There have been few postings recently about the News-Press on Blogabarbara, but the reason there are so many comments is this. People with a sense of decency are appalled that someone in a responsible position in the journalistic profession is willing to channel his political disagreement into personal attacks, insults and lies to dirty those people he sees as opponents. And contrary to any semblance of journalism, he publishes only his side of the story.

Evidently, you and Bill Carson believe that it's great fun to watch Armstrong insult and lie about those public servants you and he dislike. You say you love it, but most people have enough self-awareness to find an attitude like that pathetic.

7/14/2008 7:31 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

I hardly think that commenters here are being driven nuts when they point out the lies and hypocricy that continue to be published and how more and more people who do not really like the City but agree the editorials and especially their writer are a joke and disgrace.

Calling their bluff and exposing their lies are a small function of this blog. Providing news on the latest road closures caused by Gap or any other fire is not the point to generate comments.

7/14/2008 7:48 PM  
Anonymous This is fun said...

Read all about it, great observation! I personally can't wait for the next TKA column. Rock on Travis. This is all so entertaining, especially since the mayor just keeps giving him more and more to write about.

7/14/2008 8:14 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

till I'm blue in the face says,

"3. Whenever I encounter the paper laying around (at my office, breakfast shop, etc.) I quietly bundle it up and throw it in the recycling bin."

Does anyone else recognize something seriously wrong here??? (Hint: book burning, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia.)

7/14/2008 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Slow hand said...

This is fun, the fact is that the mayor isn't giving Armstrong anything new to write about; he keeps engaging in self-flagellation on the same subject to no apparent end other than, one guesses, personal gratification.

7/14/2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

To johnsanroque:

I don't think "it's great fun to watch Armstrong insult and lie about those public servants you and he dislike".

The point you've missed since day-one is that Travis is 100% on the mark regarding Marty Blum.

What goes around, comes around. And Marty Blum is getting exactly what she deserves. It's not "fun" to see her exposed in newsprint. It's more like poetic justice.

7/14/2008 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Consider the Source said...

Now wait gosh darn moment. This was a single column by TKA, identified as one person's opinion. It was not news, it was not a feature story, it was not a staff report, and it was not even an editorial.

It was the journalistic equivalent of a hit piece by Maureen Dowd, Michelle Matkin and/or Laura Schlessinger. (Gee, all women?!?) It was an independent opinion piece by a single person written under his own name.

Take it for what it was worth. TKA being TKA. It was a squirmy indictment of TKA and certainly did not make any statements of merit about anyone else. You give TKA too much credit.

You can't bring down the entire paper on just what Armstrong writes, any more than you can over what Maureen Dowd writes which many of us found to be even more vicious and offensive. A sense of perspective, puh-leez.

7/14/2008 9:44 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Bill Carson is becoming a Travisty wannabe. Please, Billy, tell us all what was so "100% on the mark" about these two editorials that claimed, with zero evidence, that Marty Blum was going to resign?

What was "exposed" there?

Everyone should know that The Wendy and Baron von Nipper Munchkin are away summering on a different continent right now, where even they do not have access to the Newspress web site. The inmate has now taken over the asylum and it is showing with the most fabricated editorials yet and the thinnest attempt at news coverage.

7/14/2008 10:22 PM  
Anonymous 'til i'm blue in the face said...

bill carson,

You think there's something wrong with me throwing away the NP rag, when Wendy and Travis completely toss aside any possibility of printing response letters to their editorials, or in any way entertaining a reasonable "fair and balanced" discourse on any subject, while you cheer them on?

Now who's living in Nazi Germany? Let us know when the giant bell of irony rings for you...

7/14/2008 11:51 PM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

Just dropped by from my happy hiatus to support Mr. Armstrong. Blum has failed Santa Barbara, plain and simple. Maybe she didn't mean to. Being the Mayor just seems to be harder work than she was counting on.

Newsflash to Marty B: It's not all fun and dancing in the park. There are tough issues like public safety and resource management that need to be taken care of when you're the mayor.

Sorry, Marty, but I can't wait to see your "reign" end.

7/15/2008 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Sell the %$#@! thing! said...

It's such a shame that in this world class town this - THIS is the voice of its major newspaper. We demand better. There are real social issues needed to be discussed in the public square. Wendy, sell the paper for crying out loud!

7/15/2008 6:40 AM  
Anonymous Exceptionalism said...

This isn't about whether Marty Blum should resign, but whether she was actually contemplating resignation, as TKA reported. Obviously he wants her to do so, but as has happened before, he has let what he wants to be true (though it is not real) interfere with his reporting of facts. The fact that he's an editorial writer doesn't excuse him from being accurate when he offers a fact. That's journalism and basic ethics, Travis, and even Wendy can't save you from having to adhere to those rules, even as she applauds your violations of them.

7/15/2008 6:54 AM  
Anonymous pearl's girl said...

If Marty decided to resign, who would replace her? Wouldn't it be Mayor Pro Tem Grant House? Wouldn't that just give him a free re-election pass? Is that what anybody wants? Consequences matter. As in force out Gray Davis, get Ahnold instead.

7/15/2008 8:43 AM  
Blogger Greg Knowles said...

I am a real cynic when it comes to politics. Why does anyone want to be Mayor anyway? Good Luck to anyone who ends up with the job.

7/15/2008 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Tick, tick, tick said...

The rug is about to be pulled out from under Travis, and anyone else still at the NP, by the impending demise of the sports department. Sports is a one of the mainstay of any paper's viability and anyone want to take bets on how long the paper lasts when local sports coverage is no more?

7/15/2008 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Slowing down to watch the car wreck said...

The Marty -- Travis catfight has been going on for years. As Travis continues to committ public hari kari, I'm starting to like Blum, when I never did before.

7/15/2008 10:11 PM  
Anonymous 'til i'm blue in the face said...

Me thinks the secret police in the black uniforms took bill carson away in the middle of the night. Too bad. It was just getting good.

7/15/2008 11:49 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Wrong "'til".

No matter who, what, when, where or don't have the right limit others access to the NP.

By the way...How do you feel about the 17-year-old who was fired for asking Marty to stop using city email to pursue her fight with Travis?

7/16/2008 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Real time said...

Bill, I can tell two things about the 17-year old alleged firing. One, if Trav came up with cause and effect by himself, chances are good it isn't true. Second, imagine replacing Marty Blum with Wendy McCaw, and what do you think the outcome for the 17-year old would be? Right: ashcan city.

7/16/2008 11:14 PM  
Anonymous 'til i'm blue in the face said...

Get real bill c,

You are attacking me for doing my citizen's duty recycling a newspaper that's laying around, yet you fail to acknowledge how plain wrong and against all journalistic standards it is for the NP to control the content of news, editorials, letters to the editor and even who appears on their radio network. Are you kidding?

Let me ask you this - how many newspapers in the country only have one person on their "editorial board"?

7/17/2008 8:32 AM  
Blogger Dick said...

* NP should be the print news of record for the South Coast. It did provide a common point of reference for our community interactions. We all lose when the NP fails in its local (including sports) news role and also lose when the editorial comment is dishonest, not based on what's been reported, or civil.

* Relative to the disappointment in the sad state of the NP: One should be able to express displeasure about the dishonest editorials and non-existent local news without being called names.

*Relative to my carrier: he's done a great job (on time/always dry paper) and I'm going to be sad to lose him, but cancellation is the only step I have left. I've written privately to the Publisher, I've been patient, and I've hoped; but I lament the irredeemably sad state of the NP.

7/18/2008 2:02 PM  

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