do you found a solution for this problem?
It seems I have a similar problem:
I deactivated field 'access' and set standard value to 'Public', but if any User ('Registered', 'Editor', 'Super Users', ...) creates an article the 'access' value is empty and the article is not accessible.
The reason I thought it wasn't the correct place to set the Published as Default was because it didn't work. When I logged in with a Registered User "Test" and created a new Article, the Status was Unpublished (see the attachment). So, if the set up is correct why is the Article saved with Unpublished Status?
I can give you SuperUser access to the website, if that may help but I don't want to post the UserName and Password in the Forum.