Monday, June 22, 2009

In This Election, News-Press Is Sounding Like A Broken Record

The candidates for Santa Barbara City Council and Mayor are off and running, and no one is running harder, or more scared, than the News-Press.

Wendy McCaw is desperate to back a winner.

How else do you explain the fact that the paper has run no less than four editorials since the beginning of June, all focused on the races and with the theme of "throwing the rascals out."

Of course, with only one incumbent up for reelection, there aren't a lot of rascals to be tossed. But Travis Armstrong has never been one to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story line.

In case you haven't been paying attention, here are the story lines.

Who the News-Press has it in for. Council candidates, David Pritchett, Grant House and mayoral candidate Helene Schneider.

In his op-ed page column last Friday, Armstrong referred to Pritchett as "the character who takes the cake." Of course, the attitude of Armstrong's boss McCaw has been to let the paper's readers eat cake.

In his op-ed page column a week earlier, Armstrong claimed that the city "can't afford" Grant House. This is from the paper that evidently can't afford a decent columnist.

And then there's Schneider, whose sins include filing an application to enlarge her home and traveling on city business.

Who the News-Press likes. Council candidates, Michael Self, Cathy McCammon, John Thyne and Frank Hotchkiss, whom Armstrong recently described as "strong contenders," and mayoral candidate Iya Falcone.

Who the paper could turn on at any given moment. Council candidate Olivia Uribe, mayoral candidate Steve Cushman and just about every other candidate in the council race.

Read the news article about the kick-off of Uribe's campaign that appeared in Friday's edition and then take a look at Armstrong's comments about Uribe in his op-ed page column that appeared the same day. It's as if they're talking about two different people.

And Cushman's strategy of running TV ads early in the campaign in order to build name identification has been branded by Armstrong as a "trick."

I suspect the News-Press will be putting all its money on Falcone in the mayor's race meaning the paper will be stretching to find the slightest fault with Cushman who threatens to suck more votes away from fellow moderate Falcone than from Schneider who is perceived as being the most liberal of the three candidates in the race.

And finally, how many times is the News-Press going to remind us that it settled a lawsuit against the City for violating the Brown Act's requirement of open meetings. The latest two examples are Armstrong's mention of it in his most recent op-ed page column as well as in an editorial two days earlier.

If suing and settling (with no money changing hands) over the Transportation and Circulation Committee's discussion of an item that wasn't on the agenda represents the News-Press' finest hour, I'll agree, you're entitled to mention it. Once.

Van Gogh painted The Starry Night one and one time only. He didn't issue a press release about it every day for the rest of his life.

Enough already.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and