Thursday, July 10, 2008

News-Press Tries to Doom Blum

Wendy McCaw and her News-Press have long had it in for Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, but this past week she has really turned up the heat on Madame Mayor.

Perhaps taking a cue from the Bush administration and its purported gains in the Iraqi war through its "surge" offensive, McCaw has launched a "surge" of her own against Blum.

First, editorial page editor Travis Armstrong devoted his op-ed column of a week ago Tuesday to bashing Blum. Then there was the Sunday editorial, which I talked about yesterday. Then on Wednesday morning there was an op-ed page column by Armstrong which ran under the headline, "A chorus of voices calling for Blum to resign."

So perhaps it is only fitting that, like most choruses, this is one where the individual singers are anonymous. Never once does Armstrong gives us the name of even one of the e-mailers or phone callers who are allegedly "painting Mrs. Blum as the most disliked city officeholder of her generation . . . "

Do I need to point out that that description comes from a guy who works for the most disliked newspaper publisher of her generation?

And I dare the News-Press to run a poll on who the people of Santa Barbara would rather see resign, Blum as Mayor or McCaw as owner.

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So, was it insensitive, as Armstrong argued, for Blum to be dancing at the kick-off of the Thursday Night in the Park concert series in Chase Palm Park while a brush fire in the foothills threatened neighboring Goleta?

Probably no more insensitive than it was for News-Press co-publisher Arthur von Weisenberger to pose for this Lucky's ad sipping $150 a bottle Dom PĂ©rignon Champagne after recently laying off about a dozen or so employees from the newspaper.

"Let 'em drink Kool Aid!" Right?

* * *

Mayor Blum isn't the only one who can't get the News-Press to publish her responses to Armstrong's epistles.

When Armstrong wouldn't print a response to an op-ed column in which he tried to whip up opposition to L.A. developer Rick Caruso's Miramar project, Caruso spokesman Matt Middlebrook was able to get Montecito Journal Editor Tim Buckley to run the reply in the July 3rd issue of the weekly.

* * *

Former News-Press senior reporter Scott Hadly is spending the month of July in Iraq as an embedded reporter with a battalion of Seabees who have been deployed there from Port Hueneme.

Scott, now a reporter for the Ventura County Star, is not only writing articles for the paper but is blogging about his experiences as well.

As David Pritchett pointed out over in the comments section on Edhat, Hadly's reporting from Iraq is a much more substantial undertaking than "investigating" the tap water versus bottled water debate, which appears to be the latest rage at the News-Press.

* * *

Those dueling anti-SLAPP motions in the Rob Lowe nanny-gate case, which were to have been argued this morning in Santa Barbara Superior Court, have been postponed to July 31. Because the court is engaged in the trial of another case, the judge hasn't been able to complete her research on the matter.

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While the News-Press' coverage of the Gap Fire has been pretty lightweight, the one thing that has stood out as being extraordinary are the page one photographs of the fire each day by photographer Mike Eliason.

You can see them here, and you don't have to be a subscriber to view them.