Oh no, Wendy, now you’ve done it.
Remember those letters you had your attorney Barry Cappello send
out the other day to Santa Barbara’s small business owners? Yea,
those ones, the letters where you threatened to sue hair dressers
and sandwich makers for posting those lovely orange “McCaw Obey the
Law” placards, causing magazines and newspapers all over the world
to once again take note of the wacky state of daily newspapering in
sunny Santa Barbara.
Well, it seems that you’ve pissed off the wrong people.
That would be the American Civil Liberties
Union, a little group better known to the rest of the
lawsuit-fearing world simply as the ACLU.
According to a press release put out this morning, the ACLU of Southern California has sent a letter to McCaw and Cappello telling them that
the letters were incorrect and the threats must be stopped.
(Read the letter yourself here.)
The ACLU letter informed Cappello and McCaw that the signs are
not defamatory because they are involved in the ongoing labor
dispute at the paper, wherein 80 percent of the newsroom voted in
favor of unionization (33 were for it and six were against). Plus,
thanks to her constant barrage of headline-grabbing legal attacks
and poorly explained firings, McCaw now qualifies as a public
figure, and the burden to show malice against public figures is
“It is outrageous that a lawyer would send out a threatening
letter that shows such a misunderstanding of the law and it is even
more outrageous that the owner of a newspaper who should be a
champion of free speech is instead trying to silence the voices of
members of the community,” explained Peter Eliasberg, the Manheim
Family Attorney for First Amendment Rights for the SoCal chapter of
the ACLU. Wait, we thought Cappello was a great attorney. How can
The letter itself concludes with, “In light of the
well-established law, I trust neither you or any other lawyer for
Ms. McCaw or the News-Press will be sending threatening letters to
Santa Barbara residents who choose to weigh in with opinions on the
News-Press’s labor dispute with its employees.” Ouch. Can someone
say “veiled threat”?
So how’s it taste, Wendy? A little of your own medicine? We’ve
heard that spoonfuls of sugar make it go down a little easier.
For a better look at the signs that started the whole uproar,
check out this bigger image below.