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: I see there is an online petition demanding that President Trump release his tax returns. Nobody cares about that. None of us would understand them. The media would have to interpret it, and we all know the media lies.

What I would like to see is all of Barack Obama’s records unsealed. Why were they sealed in the first place? My thought is he is hiding something. I never thought he liked America.

— Sandi Murray

Price: No one cares about Trump’s taxes? Poll after poll shows they do. Pew Research Center released a new poll Jan. 10 that showed that 60 percent of Americans, including 38 percent of Republicans or lean-Republicans, think the issue is important.

A Quinnipiac University poll from last Aug. 25 showed that 74 percent of all voters said Trump should release his tax returns publicly. A Monmouth University poll the same week said that 62 percent of Americans thought it was either somewhat or very important.

A Fox News poll from Sept. 7 showed that 60 percent of voters, including 36 percent of Republicans, thought Trump was hiding something in his tax returns. A Sept. 21 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 52 percent of voters were concerned about Trump not releasing his tax returns. And a Fox News poll conducted Sept. 27-29 had 46 percent answering “bothers me,” compared to 52 percent who said “no big deal,” but even that outlier suggests about half of Americans care.

We have reported many of those poll findings in The Californian.

I beg to differ, too, that “None of us would understand them.” Give your fellow Americans some credit. Plenty of people would understand them.

You are correct that media would interpret Trump’s returns, but I’m not sure how they would manage to lie about them. Trump supporters might not agree with everything media commentators extrapolate from those returns, but dollar amounts, business partnerships and sources of income would be right there in black and white.

As for Obama’s “sealed” records, many records that presidential candidates don’t ordinarily release do remain confidential, but they are not “sealed” by a court.

In some cases, records that Obama critics claim are “sealed” are actually public, and open for anyone to see. Other supposedly “sealed” records are normally private documents that Obama hasn’t released — and that other presidential candidates haven’t released either.

In the case of a supposedly damning thesis paper written by Obama the college senior, it wasn’t the sort of “thesis” that some colleges require for graduation and keep on file in their libraries. Obama’s former professor, Michael Baron, said he looked for his copy but couldn’t find it, and thought he probably tossed it out eight years earlier in a move. That’s how memorable it was.

This is just a quick gloss-over. Go to www.factcheck.org and type in “Obama’s sealed records” for the complete breakdown, which I’ve summarized here.

Reader: Thanks for your Jan. 24 article on the Kern High School District, “What your government won’t tell you today: How many law firms KHSD is hiring for CLETS scandal.” Harold Pierce’s bulldog journalism is refreshing.

There is no reason for the KHSD administration to not grant your request to know which law firms have been hired by this school district.

Hopefully, the Board of Trustees will force its superintendent’s hand on this matter. Good government is open government or, to use the modern vernacular, “transparency” in government.

— Mark Salvaggio

Reader: Fox has dumped George Will, yet The Bakersfield Californian embraces the Trump hater “conservative.”

Will needs to retire with his real love: Baseball.

— Gerald V. Todd

Price: Occasionally over the years I received requests for George Will’s column from readers who said we needed a stronger conservative voice. So we add him and what do you know — now he’s a “conservative,” in quotation marks. As in “not.”

Truth is, Trump is the supposed “conservative.” The latest example is his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Bernie Sanders, that lovable ole socialist from Vermont would agree. “I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,” Sanders said last week. “... Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Republicans, on the other hand, have long supported free trade and many are unhappy with Trump’s inclinations to the contrary.

Trump might endorse some conservative positions, but that’s not how he rose to power. He won by spouting a nationalistic, populist message. Don’t confuse the two.

If you don’t like Will’s column, don’t blame his lack of conservative credentials. Be honest and blame his dislike of Trump.

Fox News did indeed decline to renew Will’s contributor contract, along with those of several others. Among them was Cal Thomas, one of the few columnists in America whose conservative credentials are the equal of Will’s.

Fox’s purge wasn’t about ideological purity; it was about ratings. And, in Will’s case, possibly also his two-year feud with Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly, whose best-selling book, “Killing Reagan,” he called “nonsensical.”

Reader: I am enclosing proof of biased reporting, which favors boys’ and men’s sports over girls’ and women’s. I know all of the excuses you are going to give ... not as many girls sports, etc., etc., but you are NOT taking advantage of the opportunities that are available. (I have selected random dates, but all are the same.) Where is your coverage of girls’ sports?

Girls are deserving of recognition. They are just as competitive, work just as hard, and spend as much time and money training as the boys. They work hard to achieve greatness and to win awards and scholarships and yet, their efforts are ignored by The Californian.

If I were a parent, I would be as mad as an “old wet sitting hen.” The parents have spent tremendous amounts of time, money and energy to provide equal opportunities for their daughters. They should be rewarded for their efforts in the same way that the parents of boys are.

I suggest that you hire a female sports writer or fire Zach Ewing and hire someone who can be fair to both girls and boys. I have held on to this letter to make sure I wanted to mail it. I do. I am surprised ACLU isn’t on your case (or Mrs. Gloria Allred.)

Your owners have said they love trying new things. Please start with the sports section. 2017 is a good time to feature girls sports first. Zach’s excuse for featuring boys first was rather ... well, I guess the word would be dumb.

— Carolyn Roberts

Price: That was quite a collection of sports sections you saved up, annotated and mailed along with your letter to support your criticism. I asked Zach Ewing about this imbalance you say you see. His response:

“I can’t help but shake my head at your assertion that we are biased against girls’ and women’s sports.

“Yes, there is more coverage of men’s professional sports than women’s — part of a news organization’s job is to determine what news is of the greatest interest. And by any metric, men’s professional sports are much more popular than women’s. The gap is closing, to be sure, but it still is a big gap. We are reacting to that market, as do media outlets everywhere.

“As for local sports, we have made and will continue to make high school football a priority in our coverage. A great number of our readers have expressed their approval of this, and online readership metrics continue to show that high school football is the single most popular topic this newspaper covers.

“Football is, of course, largely a boys sport. If you remove football from the equation, however, I think you will find our local sports coverage to be quite balanced between female and male sports. Furthermore, I think if you ask girls/female sports coaches and athletes in this area, the great majority would be pleased with our coverage.

“It’s ironic you included our BVarsity All-Area teams for girls tennis and girls golf — we also did them for volleyball and girls cross country, as we do for all girls sports — with your letter. I would proudly put our coverage of girls high school sports up against any newspaper in the country. I challenge you to do the same.”

I’ll add this. I started my journalism career as a sports editor back in the 1980s and I can tell you without reservation that girls’ sports have made major inroads over that time. They’re given much more attention than they got back when I was directly involved. And I’d hold up The Californian’s coverage of girls’ sports today against any daily in the country. If you find a paper that does it better, please send me a copy.

I’ll tell that to the ACLU, too, if they call. But I’m guessing they’ve got bigger fish to fry these days.

Reader: Your Jan. 26 column by Inga Barks is making me rethink my subscription. Her comments against women were so hate filled it HURTS! ...

“Women’s March had no cognizant message,” the headline reads ... There were so many reasons people joined together and marched. My first thought was where does Barks get her information? What information bubble is she in? It is blaringly obvious that she listens to the pseudo news sources that publish and report divisive, anger-filled rhetoric. I’m surprised that The Californian would be a part of this divisiveness.

... I will not support a right-wing rag and that’s what your publication is being called by many in the community.

— Name withheld

Price: I don’t know if you read this column often, but readers are constantly calling The Californian a left-wing rag, among other not-niceties, far more so than as you describe (although that may say more about our right-wing readers than our actual content).

Conservative readers have been asking for more conservative local voices, so I found radio commentator Inga Barks. Her first column has readers talking about the Women’s March — mostly rejecting her view of it, but talking about it. Without question, that’s a good thing.

A community newspaper invites all perspectives. I would emphatically argue that this is neither a right- nor left-wing rag. Believe me, I work hard to assure it isn’t.

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.

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