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News-Press publishers receive Distinguished Patriot Award : David Horowitz, Andy Puzder sing their praises

May 12, 2017 5:09 AM

By EMILY LESLIE, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER

For their efforts to defend free speech, News-Press Publishers Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger were honored with the inaugural Distinguished Patriot Award on Thursday evening at La Cumbre County Club.

It's the first year that the Santa Barbara Patriot Coalition, made up of various local groups including the Santa Barbara Republican Women, Santa Barbara Conservative Republicans and the Santa Barbara Tea Party, has bestowed the award.

Wendy McCaw
News-Press publishers Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger receive the Distinguished Patriot Award on Thursday evening at La Cumbre Country Club. NIK BLASKOVICHNEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Wendy McCaw
Conservative activist David Horowitz speaks at Thursday's event honoring News-Press publishers Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger.


"It's really appropriate that some of the best defenders of the First Amendment, Wendy and Arthur, are the recipients for the Patriot Award," said local Republican Mike Stoker, a former Santa Barbara County supervisor.

"That's what they've been fighting for all the time, especially in Santa Barbara," he said.

Upon receiving the award, Ms. McCaw said they would continue to "fight the good fight."

Mr. von Wiesenberger said he doubts the News-Press would still exist if it weren't for Ms. McCaw.

"It's taken someone with incredible will to fight for what's right and put her money where her mouth is," he said.

Ms. McCaw and Mr. von Wiesenberger's efforts to defend conservatism were praised by conservative activist David Horowitz.

"I'm honored to be part of an event that's a tribute to two stalwart defenders of our freedoms," said Mr. Horowitz, who's also the founder of the think tank David Horowitz Freedom Center and who regularly serves as a conservative speaker on college campuses.

That the News-Press endorsed Donald Trump in the presidential election "is worth a tribute in of itself," he said, met with laughter.

Mr. Horowitz spent the better part of his half-hour speech bashing the Democratic Party as having turned into the party of the "far left," saying that if the "crooked Clintons" hadn't rigged the primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who he described as a communist, would have been the nominee.

He also commended Mr. Trump's defiance of political correctness, explaining that he was first swayed to support him in the first debate in the Republican primaries when then-Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly asked why Mr. Trump had called women "fat pigs, dogs, and slobs."

To that, Mr. Trump replied: "That was just Rosie O'Donnell."

"Finally we have a Republican who stands up, who will fight," Mr. Horowitz said.

Toward the end of his speech he urged the crowd to support the president and the efforts of the News-Press publishers.

"We can't leave Trump alone up there ... and I applaud Wendy McCaw and Arthur," he said.

The News-Press publishers were also commended by their friend Andy Puzder, the former CEO of CKE Restaurants, whom Mr. Trump nominated to be secretary of Labor.

Mr. Puzder, who now lives in Nashville, sent a taped video of congratulations, saying: "They have done so much to defend the principles that make us a great nation, particularly our First Amendment rights - and they've had courage to do so in California, which makes their efforts all the more commendable."

He recalled in January 2015 that the News-Press office in De la Guerra Plaza was vandalized after it published a headline that "had the audacity to accurately state: 'Illegals line up for driver's licenses,' " he said.

Mr. von Wiesenberger responded at that time that the News-Press would not "give into thugs who are attempting to use political correctness as a tool of censorship and a weapon to shut down this newspaper."

Mr. Puzder also commended the News-Press publishers on their courage to endorse Mr. Trump and congratulated them on receiving a "well-deserved" award.

"You represent the best of who we are as a people, and the best of who we should be as Americans," Mr. Puzder said.

News-Press editorial writer Andy Caldwell, the executive director of COLAB, served as the master of ceremonies and said it's high time to honor Ms. McCaw and Mr. von Wiesenberger, calling them the "epitome of the greatness that founded this country."

"How many of you will follow the example of Wendy and Arthur and our guest speaker, David Horowitz, that you're going to step forward when everybody else is stepping back?" Mr. Caldwell asked the crowd.

"Are you willing to be scorned and persecuted for simply speaking up and speaking the truth? Are you willing to risk your life, your honor and your fortune, to defend your rights and those of others?"

email: eleslie@newspress.com

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