On Tuesday, January 23, News-Press owner
Wendy McCaw
‘s attorney
Barry Cappello
(pictured) Barry%20Cappello.jpg sent a second letter to the Lawyers
Alliance for Free Speech
, the group of 50 or so well respected
attorneys from diverse backgrounds and distinct practices who
banded together last fall to help those whose speech has been
silenced by McCaw’s legal threats. (See
page one of the letter here
page two of the letter here

In this latest look at reality through the lens of the
News-Press, Cappello takes the time to explain his last
and argue that those who called it a “bullying” tactic
or “intimidation” were clearly off base. (He even busts out the
good ol’ Webster’s New World Dictionary to get to the bottom of

Rather, Cappello goes through the history of what he calls “this
classic Santa Barbara brouhaha,” hinting that Jerry Roberts and
“various reporters” (try nearly all of them, Barry) were the real
root of this problem. (If this is the case, why won’t someone
explain in plain English what exactly Jerry Roberts was doing?!?!?
It’s childish, unprofessional, and entirely dubious to keep talking
about it in this veiled manner.) Cappello asks how many in the
Lawyers Alliance know Roberts “well, included how he conducted
himself at the paper.” (This is the part where anyone who’s been
following this story asks, “But Barry, weren’t you quoted in an
saying that you’ve yet to meet Wendy McCaw?
How well do you know your own client?”)

And then, Cappello explains that the real culprit in this whole
thing is unionization, specifically the vicious and calculating
Teamsters. “Free speech” is not the issue, according to Cappello,
because that’s just “spin” to “help the union organize.” We’re
going to start calling this increasingly employed tactic by McCaw’s
legal squad as the “Boogeyman Shuffle.” It’s not a
bad technique, a move to take the blame off of McCaw (pictured)
WendyMcCaw.jpg and News-Press management (the
initial Boogeymen) and shift it to the Teamsters (the new
Boogeymen), a union that’s easily villified due to its up and down
history. The Teamsters are “going to get a foothold” in Santa
Barbara, argues Cappello, appealing to some inherent anti-union
bent that Cappello must believe lives in all lawyers. But to date,
no one’s falling for the Boogeyman Shuffle.

And that’s simply because anyone with common sense can tell that
it’s bogus. Perhaps you’ve forgotten Barry, but remember that this
did not begin with the firing of Roberts. It began with the letters
of rerpimand sent out by McCaw to Camilla Cohee and her editors for
printing Rob Lowe’s address. Everything else that’s happened is a
direct result of that egregious and heinous move by McCaw. That’s
the move that got the world of journalism up in arms and enraged
the News-Press newsroom. The ensuing meltdown came

The fact of the matter is that the Teamsters were called in as a
response to a perceived threat. The threat was that the newsroom
would no longer be able to tell straight stories without going
through a McCaw screening process and that the wacky, uninformed,
and dangerous editorial influence of Travis Armstrong (pictured)
Travis%20Armstrong.jpg was going to be merged with news
reporting. That right there is the root of this trouble. Not the
Teamsters, not Jerry Roberts, and not “various reporters” who felt
miffed that their highly esteemed and decorated boss was

And let’s make another thing even more clear, to the point of
redundancy: The Independent does not want to see the
News-Press fail as a newspaper. We are solidly behind the
notion that a functioning democracy needs a daily newspaper with
institutional memory and an acclaimed history to thrive.

Cappello’s letter intimates that The Indy is trying to
“hurt” the News-Press with our “savage” coverage of their
story. If you check our page counts, which are the main indicator
of a weekly’s wealth, they’ve only risen slightly at what could
easily be considered a natural growth pace. We probably should be
capitalizing in more cutthroat ways, but we simply have not.

Perhaps Cappello is referring to our rising prestige across the
globe for having risen to the occasion to become the go-to
publication for those who are following this story. If so, then
Barry and Wendy need another reminder: Newspapers cover the news.
We are just doing our job. And thanks, actually, for giving us a
topic that so many thousands of people are eager to read about
online. Without the News-Press meltdown, the Santa Barbara
blogosphere would still be miniscule. Now we’re enjoying tons of
online news everyday!

As for specific objections to this latest Cappello letter from
the Lawyers Alliance, an anonymous attorney explained the

1) Cappello’s letter claims that only two
negative responses came to him after his first letter. However, at
least eight lawyers signed their names to Rob Egenolf’s letter to
The Indy and Cappello, which is four times two. Said the
attorney, “That’s not quite as big a whopper as claiming Wendy
saved the N-P from insolvency, but still.”

2) Cappello mentions that the attorneys are now
asking for money from the public, and argues that they should offer
their services pro bono. However, the repeatedly and publicly
stated purpose of the Lawyers Alliance is to raise money to level
the playing field, not to take sides on behalf of or against any
litigant “no matter what.”

3) In response to Cappello’s claim that McCaw
is not a big bully, the anonymous attorney points our that McCaw
filed a $25 million claim against Roberts. How’s that not
bullying?, the lawyer asks.

4) Cappello suggests that the lawyers are
trying to help the Teamsters by raising this money. “That’s a total
fabrication,” said the attorney. “That is not how the loan fund
works. They are loans to individuals who have been sued or
threatened with suits by Wendy McCaw.”

5) Cappello asks whether the Teamsters have
enough money to defend these people. But, the attorney explains,
“because the Lawyers Alliance has no relationship with the
Teamsters, its members don’t have a clue how much money the
Teamsters have. This question, of course, is impossible to answer
unless we know how much Wendy has spent/is willing to spend to file
and pursue frivolous cases. How much has she paid Capello to look
up words in the dictionary for $500/hour?”

6) And finally, as a response to Cappello’s
question about whether these attorneys knew that they’d be asking
the public for help, the attorney explains, “Yes, we really thought
when we signed up that we would be doing everything necessary,
including appeals to the public, to raise money to help individuals
threatened or sued by McCaw.”

Cappello, we all know you’re getting paid enough to take a trip
to the moon, but why not listen to what a healthy chunk of your
alleged “friends, acquaintances, and colleagues of many years” are
saying? You’re betting on the wrong horse in this race, and the
entire world knows it. Let’s not watch an otherwise exemplary and
prestigious practice brought down because of one confused, angry,
and clearly out-of-touch client.


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