Monday, November 05, 2007

In Some Circles, A "Writers" Strike Might Be Welcome

As I write this post on Sunday evening, the news is not encouraging about the Hollywood writers strike, which all sources are indicating is imminent.

Well, I can assure you that this is one "Hollywood writer" who won't be striking. And yes, I do have a legitimate claim to being a "Hollywood" writer. I was born in the old Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, back when it was located right in the middle of Hollywood.

Is that "Hollywood" enough for you?

Of course, Cedars has since merged with the old Mt. Sinai Hospital and is now known as Cedars Sinai Medical Center and has moved to another part of L.A.

One writer, Hollywood or not, that a couple of our present and past elected officials are no doubt wishing would go on strike is News-Press editorial page editor Travis Armstrong.

Last Wednesday and Thursday he used his op-ed column to go after Santa Barbara City Council Member Helene Schneider who, along with Brian Barnwell and Das Williams, is up for reelection.

On Wednesday, he was honked off at Schneider for declining an invitation to appear on his radio program.

Who can blame her? A fender bender at high noon on a Sunday at the corner of State and Carrillo is likely to draw a bigger crowd than Armstrong's radio show.

On Thursday, Armstrong answered the bell for round two of "Hassle Helene."

Talk about violating the rules of Journalism 101. Has anybody told Armstrong that names make the news?

For example, Armstrong claims that; "Well-monied special interests are backing Ms. Schneider's re-election to the city council"

How about identifying some of them? Shouldn't be too hard, if they exist, since the News-Press regularly runs stories at the end of each campaign reporting period about who gave how much to whom.

The column continues; "But even if Ms. Schneider wins a second term, this once rising star has self-destructed into a falling one in the eyes of many of her fellow Santa Barbarans."

You know, you could say the same thing about Armstrong's boss, Wendy McCaw.

Included in Armstrong's column was an e-mail that a News-Press reader had purportedly sent to Schneider that razzes her about the questions Armstrong raised in his column the day before. Of course, the author of the e-mail is never identified.

Who says Blogabarbara is the only place in town that will post anonymous e-mails?

(And speaking of Blogabarbara, the Schneider columns were the subject of a heavily debated post on that site.)

A week earlier, it was former assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson, now a candidate for state senate, who was getting the treatment from Travis.

In this instance the treatment consisted of trying to minimize the political support Jackson has while overstating that of Ventura's Jim Dantona, her announced Democratic challenger in the primary.

In his column, which appeared a week ago Sunday, Armstrong was touting Dantona's endorsements, which he claimed included that of Don Perata, the President Pro Tem of the State Senate.

However, a column that ran in the Ventura County Star a few days earlier reported that Perata was a no-show at a fundraiser for Dantona and had been giving indications that he would stay neutral in the primary race.

I guess my blog and Edhat aren't the only websites that the News-Press blocks access to.

Armstrong also speculated that Pedro Nava, our State Assembly Member, might be jumping in to make it a three-way Democratic primary race.

If he does, someone in the Nava household is going to have some 'splainin to do. Nava's wife, Susan Jordan, has already publicly endorsed Jackson in the Senate primary.

Jackson's early endorsements also include mayor Marty Blum, former mayor Harriet Miller and just about every other "big name" local Democrat which would appear to belie Armstrong's assertion that "local Democrats" worked to discourage Jackson from running for First District Supervisor last time around.

That seat was won by Salud Carbajal, who by the way, is also endorsing Jackson in the Senate primary.

So is this sloppy reporting on Armstrong's part or an intentional effort to slant the facts? I'll give him the benefit of the doubt after all, he was probably too busy reading about Exhibit 199.

* * *

In case you were wondering, as I was, what the turnout was for the annual News-Press Half-Marathon this past Saturday, I'm told that it was "very healthy," which is not only a description of the physical condition of the participants but the numbers in which they showed up here to run.

One observer pointed out that the event draws a large number of participants from out of town who probably welcome the chance to read an abbreviated version of a daily newspaper given all the time they have to devote to training for long distance races.

In any case, anyone wondering whether the News-Press would take a good will hit with respect to the community events it sponsors will have to look elsewhere, at least for the time being.

* * *

Finally, I am happy to report that the article on Joe Howell, one of this year's honorees for Lifetime Achievement, is posted once again on the News-Press website.

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