Former News-Press Editor Spills Bias Beans to Mayor

Fired Editor Bob Guiliano Describes Wendy McCaw’s Bias in
Letter to Marty Blum

On Monday, February 26, around 7 p.m.,
Bob Guiliano
— the editor who was fired by the
Marty%20Blum%20File.jpgfor perfomance-related reasons right after
reporter Anna Davison was terminated
— sent an email to
Barbara Mayor Marty Blum
(pictured). The subject was “Greetings Mayor Blum,
something you should know …” and the email describes in great
detail how
News-Press owner Wendy McCaw’s dislike for the
mayor and City Hall was, in part, what led to the firing of Davison
and Guiliano himself. Given that all of the mayor’s correspondence
is a matter of public record, we felt that it would be enlightening
to reproduce the bulk of that letter here. It provides a brief
glimpse into the way that the
News-Press is being run
these days, according to a former editor who had face-to-face
meetings with McCaw and her associates. If what Guiliano says is
true, it’s clear that the bias is still very much in the

News-Press building and that the management really has no
understanding of the ethical standards that are supposed to be
respected in the professional news business.

Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 7:08 PM To: Blum, Marty Subject:
Greetings Mayor Blum, something you should know …

Hi Mayor Blum,

I was just going through my notebooks and a list I had taped to
the inside of one notebook has all the council members’ e-mail
addresses. It made me think, why not tell Marty Blum how she was
part of the reason one of my best reporters and I were fired at the

On the fateful day, Jan. 15, that a front-page story ran about
the downtown renovation project, Scott Steepleton was out sick with
food poisoning, so Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger
(pictured) called me into her office about the story. Wendy%20%26%20Arthur%20Web.jpg I was the assistant city editor and ran
things in Scott’s absence.

First thing Wendy told me was that I needed to issue a written
reprimand to Anna Davison over her story because it was biased. I
asked how was it biased? Wendy pointed to the quotes on the front
page and said that Anna quoted Mayor Blum too many times, that once
would have sufficed, and that she does not want Blum quoted in her
paper. So, I asked again how was this being biased? Wendy went on
to say that there was not enough written in the story against the
trees being cut down as part of the renovation project, so in
effect, Anna’s story “went against our editorial page.” That is how
Wendy McCaw defines “bias” in her bizarre interpretation of
journalism ethics.

I just kept asking Wendy, what else, and took notes as Arthur
sat there and nodded in agreement with everything she said.

Her facial expression was tense, her hair disheveled, her lips
pursed together tightly, her eyes were dark and her head and eyes
kept darting from side to side, never making contact with mine. She
only stopped berating me and my reporters to field a phone call and
snap to the caller, “Yes, that’s egregious!”

Then, on Jan. 22, after having researched the background to
Anna’s story, instead of having issued Anna a written reprimand,
which I knew Wendy wanted to use as an excuse to fire her, I
presented a report to Wendy and Arthur explaining that there indeed
was no controversy about the trees being cut downtown, that this
issue had been discussed during two years of public hearings, and I
even cited a Travis Armstrong editorial where he lamented, where’s
the hue and outcry, and a letter to the editor asking why no one
was protesting the downtown project’s toll on trees.

I advised Wendy that having Anna write a news story saying
there’s a controversy, when none exists except for the one on our
editorial page, would make the newspaper look bad, as if we were
creating a controversy to sell newspapers. I concluded by asking
Wendy and Arthur to “please let me know what you think.”

Wendy’s response was to fire Anna on Jan. 25 and to fire me on
Jan. 26. Anna was fired over “bias” in that story, and I was given
no reason except “performance-related,” because, as an attorney
later told me, they could not say I was fired for refusing to issue
her a written reprimand over her story when she did not merit it.
If I had issued that reprimand, I would have been committing an
unfair labor practice.

I was hoping that you would join Councilman Barnwell, whom I met
at last Wednesday’s Wake Up Wendy citizens’ rally, in mobilizing
Operation Cold Shoulder.

Thanks for any help you can muster in that effort. That’s all
that can be done for now to help restore integrity to this
newspaper. Wendy’s full-page ads are full of deceit and lies in
blaming the meltdown on the Teamsters. Her main tactic is bullying
everyone via lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters. The real issue
is ethical journalists protesting against having to slant their
stories to always reflect McCaw’s opinions in a positive light.

P.S. I left a secure position at a newspaper where I had worked
for eight years, the North County Times serving North San Diego
County, to come to Santa Barbara to help restore journalistic
integrity here. Plus, my dad has lived in this area for about 30
years, an ex-Marine honored recently for his heroism in World War
II, and he’s approaching 80 and needs my help.

I had told Scott Steepleton up front that I had integrity and
would do what I can to help improve the newspaper. I stood by my
reporters and I got fired along with them rather than selling out
my integrity.

If you have any questions, or if there is anything more I can do
to help restore ethics to the Santa Barbara News-Press,
please let me know. Meanwhile, I had to vacate my apartment in
Santa Barbara and move into my dad’s place in Carpinteria while I
am unemployed. Today, I had to pay full price for blood pressure
pills since I no longer have health insurance. I am just one of
many, many of your constituents whose lives Wendy McCaw has
discarded like garbage.

Just know that I and my former reporters stand proud and believe
in ourselves and that what we are fighting for is right! Maybe
there is something else you and the City Council could do — pass a
resolution honoring all the journalists and columnists who have
been fired or resigned at the News-Press for standing up
for journalistic ethics and integrity, and honor them in person at
a City Council meeting. That would be great! Beware the outrage of
Travis Armstrong’s editorials if you dare to do so!

Take care,

Bob G.



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