Jerry Roberts Goes on Offensive

Roberts Claims News-Press Leaked Arbitration Info

Former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts has accused lawyers
representing Wendy McCaw, the Santa Barbara
, and its parent company Ampersand
of leaking the fact that McCaw filed a $500,000 claim against
Roberts that will be handled through arbitration, rather than the
court system.

News of the $500,000 claim has long been rumored, but was first
reported in a short article that appeared in last Friday’s Los
Angeles Times
. The article attributed the source of the information
to the News-Press itself. Shortly thereafter, McCaw’s
spokesperson Agnes
issued a release expressing disappointment that
the story had been leaked and suggested that Roberts himself had
been responsible for doing the leaking.

This past Monday, Roberts issued a demand for a retraction. In
his letter, he denied yet again having any hand in leaking the
story, noted the lack of any evidence that tied him to the leak,
and then provided an elaborate account accusing McCaw attorney
David Millstein of leaking the story to
News-Press reporter Vladimir Kogan. As of this writing,
Kogan declined to comment, and Huff has not responded
to written queries.

But according to Roberts’ account, Kogan called him on the phone
August 17, and left a message stating he’d been assigned to write
an article about the arbitrated conflict. Because the conflict will
be settled through arbitration rather than litigation, there are no
documents publicly available at the Santa Barbara courthouse to
which Kogan or any reporter would have had access. According to a
press statement issued by Roberts’ attorneys, Kogan told Roberts
during their phone conversation that he had obtained a copy of the
arbitration from Millstein after he informed Millstein that one
could not be found at the county courthouse.

In the past, Roberts had declined to discuss his arbitration
dispute with McCaw, saying he did not want to screw up the process
or risk further legal entanglements. His attorneys explained they
went public with their version of events only after Huff and
Millstein had failed to issue a retraction. The L.A. Times
broke the story the same day Roberts and columnist Barney Brantingham—along with the rest
of the News-Press employees who resigned over ethical
conflicts with N-P owner and publisher McCaw—received an
ethics award from the Society of
Professional Journalists
(SJP) at a their annual
conference in Chicago. Both Brantingham and Roberts received
standing ovations while at the SPJ conference.
Roberts’ attorneys vowed that they would file a detailed a vigorous
counter-claim against McCaw in response to the $500,000 complaint
she filed against him.


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