By Peter Lance December 18th, 2016. I’d just retrieved the Sunday NYT this morning and was sitting down with coffee to eye the front page, when Tyler Hayden, a reporter for The Santa Barbara Independent whom I’d singled out for his failure to cover the Lois Capps-Mallory Rae Dies-DUI manslaughter scandal back in 2014, sent out a Tweet falsely suggesting that The Huffington Post had not “published” my latest piece which launched a new website www.investigatingtrump.com.
His insinuation in the Tweet above was that anyone could Contribute to the HuffPost by merely writing something and hitting “upload.”
Given the amount of fake news and unsubstantiated Tweets out there, primarily led by our POTUS-elect, I responded to Tyler to set the record straight, noting that since 2006 I’d had 20 HuffPosts published and that under their new platform in order to qualify as a Contributor, you have to be either a legacy reporter like me or apply via a Wait List which has since been closed.
Tyler then responded to me with a series of snarky Tweets comparing me to Donald Trump and even criticizing the reference to Itrump.com I’d used on my Twitter banner. See below.
So why am I spending valuable time on a Sunday, reporting on all of this? Because it underscores an important point that needs to be made about journalism, particularly as it’s practiced or malpracticed at the local level.
The editor-in-chief of The Independent is Marianne Partridge She was once an editor at the legendary Village Voice in New York, after which The Indy is patterned.
But her SB weekly, which typically covers politics and the arts very well, has a blindspot when it comes to any articles published in The Santa Barbara News-Press, which ran my five-part series on the Lois Capps/DUI scandal back in April of 2014.
That series prompted an FBI/DOJ investigation and a parallel probe by the VA, both of which curiously ended as Mrs. Capps geared up for her 2014 re-election which The Independent dutifully endorsed despite the unanswered questions.
There’s been a blood feud between The Indy and The News-Press since 2006 after the NP’s publisher fired a number of reporters, some of whom later came to write for The Independent, including Jerry Roberts and Barney Brantingham.
This is the Wikipedia entry on that fight which happened years before I ever wrote a word for that daily.
I even offered my first major investigative series to the Indy in the spring of 2011. It later became a 13 part series on police corruption in the Santa Barbara Police Department involving DUI arrests. The Independent turned me down but The News-Press had the courage to run it.
I began investigating after I was arrested by officer Kasi Beutel of the SBPD on New Year’s Day 2011 for an alleged .o9 DUI that I didn’t commit.
In the course of my probe I proved, with the help of my lawyer Darryl Genis, that officer Beutel had perjured herself in my police report and claimed to have witnessed my signature on a blood test waiver that a nationally recognized hand-writing expert concluded had been forged.
After eleven and a half months of hearings which cost the County tens of thousands of dollars, all charges against me were dropped and I was vindicated in the DMV.
That 13 part News-Press series led Santa Barbara’s Civil Grand Jury to mandate the installation of Dash Cams in all 28 SBPD patrol units.
A year later when the police had to conduct Field Sobriety Tests honestly, there was a 48% drop in DUI arrests, suggesting that before then they had been framing up to half of the suspects arrested for drinking & driving crimes they didn’t commit.
THE INDY PASSES ON MY 2014 DUI SERIES
Arguably, given my coverage of police misconduct and the reform it led to, the Liberal Independent should have picked up on my reporting in 2014 about the crimes committed by Lois Capps’ staff.
I proved, once again in The News-Press, that Mrs. Capps’ office had sought to get its former District Rep. Raymond Victor Morua III, out of jail and into a VA treatment facility in the days immediately following his hit-and-run crash at 80 mph which caused the death of 27-year old UCSB double-major Mallory Rae Dies.
In fact, Mrs. Capps’ District Director Mollie Culver, had gone so far as to forge Raymond Morua’s signature on two VA forms, one of which carried a five-year prison term for “concealing a material fact or making a materially false statement.”
Though I’d broken that story I didn’t own it and I was hopeful that other reporters would press Mrs. Capps and her office for the truth.
APPROACHING TYLER HAYDEN
So I personally appealed to Tyler Hayden to pick up where I’d left off and “advance” my reporting. That happened during a face-to-face meeting I had with him outside Superior Court on April 15th, 2014, the day of Raymond Morua’s guilty plea.
He assured me he’d look into my findings, but he never did.
Worse, he filed a piece in the Indy that very same day and under his byline he published a false and unsubstantiated claim by Mrs. Capps and her press flak Chris Meagher (an ex-Indy reporter) that my series was “full of inaccuracies.”
In a piece on this site December 9th, following Mrs. Capps’ Farewell Address, I underscored the hypocrisy of The Independent in its failure to honestly cover that scandal and I updated that piece today. Apparently stung by the truth, Tyler Hayden, who started as an intern with the Indy in 2009, decided to go all “Trump” on me via Twitter.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Again, why should the Twitter rant of a local reporter with a paper-thin resumé matter to me?
Because the myopic vision of The Santa Barbara Independent in deciding what is or isn’t news, based on a ten-year-old vendetta, is depriving its readers of the kind of aggressive coverage of cops, judges, DA’s and politicians they deserve.
As I said in the open to the 2014 series I voted for Lois Capps multiple times. I’m a political Liberal, who never retreated behind the less inflammatory label “Progressive.” But I’m a citizen first and a journalist second and I have devoted my career to investigating waste, corruption and misconduct in government no matter which side of the political aisle it came from.
In four investigative books for HarperCollins published between 2003 and 2013 critical of the FBI’s performance in counter-terrorism and organized crime, I’ve been equally aggressive in my reporting on the presidencies of Bush 41, Bill Clinton, Bush 43 and Barack Obama.
To me there are no sacred cows and if you look at the homepage of this website, above the piece I wrote on the farewell address of uber Liberal Lois Capps, I posted a link to the very HuffPost Tyler Hayden decided to start a Twitter riot over. That piece announced the set up of my new site dedicated to holding the Trump administration to accountability.
So if Tyler Hayden was a responsible Liberal as well as a responsible reporter he should have taken the launch of investigatingtrump.com – a resource for investigative journalists — as something good rather than pointing out that my Twitter banner included a “squiggly line.”
I’ll close by pointing out that when I pressed Tyler on all of this he promptly BLOCKED ME from his Twitter account; deciding to hide rather engage in a spirited exchange.
If he hadn’t done that you could have read one of my responses to him in which I pointed out that in examining his Indy bio, given his limited c.v., his series of attacks amounted “Journalistically” to “a pretty small pot… calling the kettle black.”