This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions may be edited for space and clarity.
Reader: A recent article in The Californian had a big headline saying “Valadao dumps Trump.” Further down in the article it was clear that Congressman David Valado dumped both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Valadao was quoted as saying he “couldn’t support either candidate.” I think that means he dumped both Trump and Clinton — but Clinton didn’t make the headline. A letter in today’s (June 28) opinion section was all about Valadao “dumping Trump” but not a word about him “dumping Hillary.”
You are accomplishing what appears to be your goal and that of many other news outlets: Figure out a way to “dump Trump” and elevate Hillary to the highest possible level. How really disgusting. I can think of no other word that fits that effort or the candidacy of Clinton.
It’s gonna be a long, hot summer.
— Caroline O. Reid
Price: The over-used phrase “you’ve got to be kidding” is sarcastic and rhetorical, but I find myself almost believing it’s the case here. Almost.
Did we really need Rep. David Valadao, a Central Valley Republican, to tell us he wouldn’t be supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton? Of course not. Is it news that he told us so anyway? Not really. Valadao clearly meant to convey that he couldn’t bring himself to endorse his party’s likely nominee, Donald Trump. Mentioning both major party candidates allows Valadao to at least seem neutral, like he’s sitting this one out, but his purpose is clear: He has to distance himself from Trump in order to protect his seat in the Latino-heavy 21st Congressional District.
In disavowing Trump, Valadao is in good company. George Will, the country’s preeminent conservative newspaper columnist, is so disheartened by Trump’s ascension he says he’s quitting the Republican Party. Richard Armitage, who served as the deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush and an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, says he’s voting for Hillary. Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser to former presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, has endorsed Hillary as well.
Come to think of it, maybe you’re right, Caroline. With all of these conservatives jumping ship, maybe Valadao actually thought it important that he clarify his position on the likely Democratic nominee, too. It is indeed gonna be a long, hot summer.
Reader: I’m really kind of sick and tired about the left-wing, negative articles about Republicans, especially about Mr. Trump. It’s been a lot worse lately. I wish you would get some conservative syndicated columnists in this paper. It would really be appreciated.
The paper overall I enjoy. The sports, local coverage, the investigative reporting. But come on, it’s even worse now that USA Today is part of the paper. They’ve always been a left-wing rag.
I’d like to see some more positive things about conservatives and about Mr. Trump. He’s not the devil.
— Michael Brewer
Price: Informed commentary that casts Trump in a positive light is actually hard to come by. I’ve been actively seeking it. I did find, and we published on June 19, Geoff Blades’ column, “It’s insulting to think Trump wins by insulting.” But Trump has admittedly taken a beating from conservatives both in government and the media.
One of our regular columnists, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush whose conservative credentials are unimpeachable, has been passionate in his opposition to Trump. Rich Lowry and Debra Saunders, our other regular conservative columnists, have walked a cautious line, neither condemning Trump outright or endorsing him. Plenty of readers have written letters to the editor supporting Trump (”He tells it like it is”) and we’ve published just about every one. I’m not sure what more we can do.
Reader: I was shocked and dismayed to see the front cover of the June 18 Californian listing our “Lord Christ Almighty: The savior of all mankind, according to Christians” (as having received a write-in vote) ... and pictured with some of the “wacky alternatives (who also got votes) in the June 7 presidential primary.”
In my opinion, my God is being mocked, and I find this to be offensive, disrespectful and divisive journalism. I do not doubt that Jesus Christ was a write in, but I take offense at Him being categorized as “wacky” and pictured along with fictional characters and inanimate objects. It would be much like picturing and listing Mohammed, Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. in the same manner. Wouldn’t that be offensive?
Deleting Christ as pictured and listing him as one of the write ins, as was done in the article’s closing statement, would have sufficed. Let’s not forget that this country was founded on Christian principles. These principles are in adherence to the 10 Commandments and the new commandment given by Christ, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” For centuries, billions of Christians throughout the world have strived to live up to these commandments from who they believe to be the “savior of all mankind.” Unfortunately, the American people are facing quite a dilemma with this year’s presidential election. I quote our first president, George Washington, “It is impossible to govern rightly without God and the Bible.”
— Susan Chavez
Price: Jesus Christ is not wacky. Casting a vote for him to serve as the next president of the United States is wacky. Including an artistic representation of his person on our front page, alongside images of some of the other unusual write-in vote recipients, does not strike me as disrespectful of Jesus — or anyone, fictional or otherwise. The unique page one design, created by Jarrod Graham, was simply an effort to pull readers into James Burger’s humorous but telling post-election story.
I will concede, however, that the words “according to Christians” is superfluous. That, or all of the other captions should have included words about the subject’s origin, ownership or affiliation, i.e., “Herman Munster: Patriarch of the Munster family, created in 1964 by television writers Alan Burns and Chris Hayward.”
Would it have been equally offensive for us to have depicted Mohammed, Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr. in the same manner, had they received Kern County write-in votes? Not to me. As I’ve mentioned before, The conservative San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed the late Ronald Reagan for president last month and I’m guessing the only people who were truly offended were Donald Trump supporters.
By the way, scholars say George Washington never spoke or wrote the words you attribute to him. A similar statement appeared in a biography of Washington first published in 1835, according to www.mountvernon.org, but there’s no evidence it actually came from Washington.
Reader: In your June 22 paper, your editorial board wrote an “Our View” editorial (”Outside investigation needed in BPD corruption case”) regarding the two disgraced BPD detectives who pleaded guilty to distributing methamphetamine. The article went on to say that a federal agency should investigate the BPD to ensure there is no widespread corruption. I agree with that statement 100 percent.
Previous articles in your newspaper identified the FBI as taking the lead in the investigation, which led to the arrest of these two former detectives. The FBI determined there was no widespread corruption, and I believe they stated so publicly several times. Does the FBI qualify as an unbiased outside federal agency? If not, how many additional federal agencies would your editorial board like to see investigate this incident before you are satisfied there is no widespread corruption?
— Daniel Smith
Price: The editorial said the state Attorney General should investigate, as it did during Kern County’s child molestation fiasco. It said nothing about the FBI. And the federal prosecutor said there was no evidence federal law was broken. Chief Greg Williamson was quoted as saying that state laws and department rules may have been broken.
BPD has not disclosed what it found or what actions might have been taken as a result of its internal investigation. The editorial questioned whether the BPD should be investigating itself at all. To me, that’s a fair question.
Reader: I just want to say that your coverage of the devastating Erskine Fire has been first rate and in the finest tradition of good journalism.
— Jim Harris
Price: Many thanks, Jim. Readers have generally been appreciative of our great team effort. The lone exception was our publication of photos of 72-year-old Joe Palme’s confrontation with CHP officer Kelley Walker. Palme had blown through a checkpoint so he could inspect what was left of his Squirrel Valley home and he ended up scuffling with the officer, who’d ordered him to leave the area. Many readers saw photographer Felix Adamo’s shots of the confrontation on our Facebook site and complained that by posting them we were invading Palme’s privacy.
I’ll let Adamo take it from here: “Palme was too busy fighting with law enforcement to even know I was taking pictures.That’s when I got all the good images. I only heard him say ‘take photos’ when he was already handcuffed and in the patrol car. At that time I was taking photos of the fire department trying to get his dogs out of Palme’s car and was ordered off the property by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. The people who think The Californian invaded his privacy are entitled to their opinion but they are all a bunch of ...” And he went on from there a little.
Reader: Thank you for publishing my letter in the June 26 Sound Off regarding heat in Bako, with your response. I intended the letter to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a little humor, a little truth. I have a standing friendly competition with my buddy, a frequently published letter writer in TBC. I may disagree with your statement that “other locales are somewhat hotter” than Bakersfield. Actually, the cities I cited are almost always hotter than Bako on any given day. Yes, it varies. And yes, other cities will get on the list (see today’s weather page!). Regarding Johnny Carson, as your column of Feb. 10, 2006, acknowledges, he frequently barbed our fair city. Not exclusively about the weather, but the point is taken. It is a well-known joke, at least among Carson fans. I am 65 and I grew up with him and still enjoy watching re-runs on TV.
By the way, I am very conservative (right of Reagan!) but I have been a subscriber forever.
— Alan L. Booth
Price: You’ve got a 10-year-old column of mine at your fingertips? I’m impressed.
As for Ronald Reagan’s place on the ideological spectrum: The entire Republican Party is now right of Reagan.
Robert Price and The Californian welcome your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to soundoff@ bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.