Friday, October 26, 2007

He Should Have Had Caller ID

If you've followed the News-Press saga, you probably know that local videographer Larry Nimmer has filmed many of the rallies put on by the News-Press employees who voted to unionize and that the resulting short documentaries have run on the Santa Barbara Channels' Channel 17 on the local cable system.

In yesterday's News-Press, editorial page editor Travis Armstrong talked about a "strange chat" he had with Nimmer on the telephone.

When he apparently didn't like what he blurted out on the phone, Mr. Nimmer told me he didn't know he was talking to me and everything should be "off the record." Mr. Nimmer said he thought he was talking to a columnist for another paper. . . he then kept talking, digging himself into a deeper hole with his words. At this point, even I felt sorry for the flustered fellow and offered to start the whole interview over again for his sake. Instead, he hung up without a good-bye.

So what's the story? According to Nimmer, he thought he was talking to the Indy's Nick Welsh. Larry has shared his e-mail to Welsh explaining what happened:


A funny thing happened to me yesterday when I was on the phone with you. Half way into the conversation, I realized it was Travis Armstrong. I had just written an email to you and there was a phone call and I thought my partner said it was Nick Welsh on the phone. I answered the phone saying "Hi Nick" and went on to answer your questions. The voice sounded a lot like you but, after a while, I realized you had either developed a nasty streak, or, it was not you and then, I got a rude surprise when I asked, "This is Nick Welsh isn't it?" and the voice said, "No, It's Travis Armstrong." Luckily, all I said was truthful and unbiased, particularly in my response as to whether The League of Women Voters and I tried to put the News-Press in a bad light with the "Touring" program.

Nimmer also shared the e-mail he sent to Armstrong after the conversation.

If you want, you can call me back at the number below, and I will tell you more about (the "Touring With the Candidates" program that Nimmer produced.) You asked me if the League of Women Voters and I made an effort to paint the News Press in a negative light. To the contrary, we actually went out of our way to portray the S.B. News Press in a fair and unbiased way. As I mentioned, the League directed me to delete Bob Hansen's negative remark to "Nipper" since they have a policy against any "negative personal attacks".

Nimmer wrapped up his e-mail to Armstrong with this statement.

A few years back, I observed you at a candidate's forum and you struck me as a fair, open minded, intelligent professional. However, from my personal experience, your columns regarding the Santa Barbara Channels have not been fair and open-minded. Had I known that I was talking to you, rather than Nick Welsh, I would have been more guarded in what I said, knowing from personal experience that you have not always reported issues in an unbiased way regarding the Santa Barbara Channels.

Even though I believe everything I said to you in our conversation was true, you may not publish my comments for anything other than the 'Touring" program. If you can convince me that you would be fair and unbiased, I'd be happy to talk to you again. Also, I would appreciate it if you would allow me to interview you. It could be a small step towards a rapprochement between the S.B. News Press and it's detractors.

To his credit, Armstrong appears to have honored Nimmer's request that his statements be treated as "off the record."

Stay tuned to see if this "conversation" continues.

* * *

Yes, I saw the front page of the Daily Sound on Monday, but my bleary eyes overlooked it. Fortunately, my eagle-eyed friend George over at "I'm Not One to Blog But . . ." caught the headline.

Either someone at the Daily Sound is over romanticizing fire coverage or they have Yogi Berra working as a headline writer.

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