Monday, April 27, 2009

"Fairly Balanced" or Fairly Unbalanced?

Is Wendy McCaw's News-Press becoming to Santa Barbara, what the Fox News Channel has become to the rest of the country? A conservative, right of center stronghold for some name-calling bullies?

Just take a look at the editorials that the News-Press ran last week. In them, the paper's owner McCaw has made it clear that she's against taxes, against unions and doesn't think much of Democrats.

Fox News was relentlessly hyping the April 15 "Tea Party" protests. Last Monday the News-Press' lead editorial was applauding them, including the one here locally, where the "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore crowd" showed up to tell us that they're, well, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Although the editorial didn't identify him by name, but rather, only by his position, the News-Press accused Daraka Larimore-Hall, chairman of the county Democratic party, of "deflecting attention" and trying to "demonize people fed up with waste." Larimore-Hall's transgression? Asking where the Tea Party protesters were during the Bush administration.

Well, considering the amount of tax dollars poured down that black hole called the Iraqi War, and the fact that the guy who led us into that war on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction which ultimately proved to be non-existent, was George Bush who, the last time I checked, was still a Republican, I think Larimore-Hall's question was a fair one.

The headline on Tuesday's editorial was: "Our Opinion: Blow up the city's budget process."

The editorial claims that the city's bureaucracy has "run amok" and that the city council has "closed down the city government every other Friday as a perk for employees."

Never mind that the State of California has done the very same thing as a cost saving measure. And most city employees are now required to work nine hours a day, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, in order to make up for not working on alternate Fridays.

All this bluster from the News-Press reminds me of those Fox News windbags, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

And while we're on the subject, where does Wendy McCaw, who has shrunk the circulation of her paper by 27 percent and inflated the price of each daily copy by 50 percent, get off advising the city on how to trim its budget?

Finally, last Wednesday's News-Press editorial went after the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Employee Free Choice Act would force companies to recognize unions if a majority of employees sign cards to join, effectively barring employers from requiring a secret ballot election.

And it would enable either side to request binding arbitration if they can't agree to a contract within 120 days after a union is formed.

McCaw unsuccessfully challenged the 33 to 6 secret ballot vote of her newsroom employees in favor of unionizing. And although News-Press management and its unionized employees have been at the bargaining table since November of 2007, no progress has been made towards an agreement.

Obviously, if the Employee Free Choice Act had been in place, there would have been no opportunity for those types of shenanigans on McCaw's part.

Anyway the News-Press editorial claimed the Employee Free Choice Act was an "un-American" idea that was being pushed by "labor bosses and Democrats in Congress."

It went on to allege that some Democrats, such as our own representative Lois Capps, "are in the pockets of various unions."

Of course the News-Press editorial failed to make any mention of the fact of its own efforts to fight the Teamsters Union or its inability to reach an agreement with them.

Fox News' slogan is, "We Report, You Decide."

Perhaps the News-Press' slogan should be, "We've decided for you, and let's not let the facts get in the way of that decision."
© 2009 by Craig Smith and