One month after Peter Lance penned his five-part editorial series (pdf) for the Santa Barbara News-Press to expose alleged misconduct by the Santa Barbara Police Department’s award winning DUI officer Kasi Beutel, the arrogant yet diligent investigative reporter returned Saturday, Sunday and today with more accusations, including the alleged backdating of officer Beutel’s marriage license.
The bizarre and lengthy series, which has forced officer Beutel to “lawyer up”, has been praised by some who have had similar experiences as Peter Lance, the five-time Emmy-winning investigative who was arrested for DUI on New Year’s Day by… officer Beutel. The court case against Mr. Lance is still pending in the Santa Barbara court system, which is a bone of contention for critics of the series.
“In a word, I am horrified,” a local writer told the Santa Barbara View. “The News-Press allowing an accused DUI defendant to write a five(8)-part attack on his arresting officer goes way beyond irresponsible journalism. As a career journalist, I am disgusted to the bone by this.”
Five years after the infamous meltdown of the paper, the series has put the Santa Barbara News-Press back on the forefront of community debate, for better or worse.
While fueling a much-needed discussion about investigative journalism, the series has also served as a reminder to the level disgust many locals still feel towards the Santa Barbara News-Press. One former subscriber lamented that in under ten years, “one of the best Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers on the Pacific Coast (has turned) into the ultimate weapon of retaliation and revenge.”
In a related note, a rally will be held in De la Guerra Plaza this Thursday to mark the the five-year anniversary of the paper’s meltdown.