The Ventura County Star is my nominee for Arrogant Big Media Goon of the Day.

The paper earns this coveted title by deep-sixing comments to an op-ed piece penned by the paper’s editor — and then, when people questioned the deletions, killing the comments altogether . . . and pretending like they never existed to begin with.

Savor the arrogance.

The details come courtesy of blogger (and Ventura County Deputy D.A.) Mike Lief, with a supporting role from our own See Dubya.

The op-ed in question blasted the Ventura County D.A. for his battle against a judge who has been giving sweet deals to Ventura misdemeanants, to clear out a backlog of misdemeanor cases. In response, a commenter calling himself “bob100” took issue with a number of the op-ed’s asserted facts. bob100’s comment was not profane or offensive. My Hot Air colleague described bob100’s comment in this way at the Junkyard Blog:

The comment was courteous and extremely relevant. Having read it, I felt like I understood both sides of this conflict a little better.

The harshest thing bob100 said was when he called the op-ed “irresponsible and incorrect” — which it most certainly was, if bob100’s facts were correct.

Mike Lief had a feeling that bob100’s comment was not long for this world, so he took a screenshot of the comment — just in case. When Mike’s prophecy was fulfilled, and the comment was deleted, Mike wrote this post, quoting the entirety of bob100’s comment and criticizing the paper for deleting it.

That was bad enough, and I wrote a post yesterday morning at my own blog, mocking the paper for deleting criticism. I encouraged my readers to toddle on over to the Ventura County Star‘s op-ed, and leave their own comment asking the editor just what in the world was going on.

When I left for work, the bottom of the op-ed looked like this:

howry-with-comments-narrow1.JPG

A couple of commenters followed up on my suggestion. A fellow calling himself “laddy” said:

Deleting comments generally indicates you may have something to hide from the rest of us.

And the aforementioned See Dubya left a link to Mike Lief’s post (which quoted bob100’s comment). See Dubya added that the deletion of bob100’s comment

looks Orwellian, and does a disservice to readers interested in both sides of the story.

Whereupon the editors of the Star said: Ha! You think that’s Orwellian? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

And then, they proceeded to delete laddy’s comment, and See Dubya’s comment. They also removed their previous notation about the removal of bob100’s comment. In fact, they zapped out of existence any indication that the op-ed had ever allowed comments, and removed the comment box so that no further comments could be left. There was no explanation for any of this. All that remained was blank space at the end of the op-ed. Here’s how it looks right now:

howry-without-comments2.JPG

Please note what remains:

Joe R. Howry is editor of The Star. He can be reached by phone at 437-0200 [805 area code — Ed.] or by e-mail at [email protected].

Joe Howry thinks you won’t notice any of this. Why not drop him a line to let him know you did?

UPDATE: Editor Joe Howry has left a comment on his op-ed, apologizing for the removal of the comments, and stating that the comments were removed without his knowledge or authorization. Several comments have been restored.

He also blames the deletion in part on “inappropriate language” in comments. This is disingenuous, as several comments noted in the links above contain no inappropriate language — unless, of course, Howry considers it “inappropriate” to simply disagree with his op-ed.