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 — which may be edited for space — are answered here each Saturday by The Californian’s Robert Price.
Reader: Make no mistake, the media decides what is news and what isn’t. From Lou Grant to Robert Price, newspaper offices across the country struggle on a daily basis to decide what goes on the front page. From Walter Cronkite to Wolf Blitzer, TV faces the same daily decisions.
And now we have Twitter added to the mix. President Trump is raked over the coals for spending too much time twittering away his early mornings, a total of 140 elapsed seconds, but it can take the media hours/days/column inches to tell the public what’s wrong with that. We get complete and utter nonsense instead of real news simply because the media decides what gets top billing.
America’s past time, baseball, came up with a solution a few years back for one of its own, “Manny being Manny” and everybody understood it. Maybe it’s time that politics and the media came up with something similar so that we can all just move along. Wouldn’t it be simple enough to hear “That’s just Donald being Donald” rather than all of the psychoanalysis over a tweet? Like it or not, there are no rules for acting presidential. Speaking of which, if we had smartphones a few years earlier, we might’ve had video instead of just a stained blue dress.
— Jim Wood
Price: I think there are rules for acting presidential. That’s not to say every president has observed those rules every day of his Oval Office tenure, but most Americans have come to expect a certain level of dignity and decorum in the leader of the free world.
Certainly in their technology-enhanced public pronouncements — well, not including certain taped telephone conversations — they have demonstrated decorum. But that has changed in a big way.
Several presidents have embraced new communications technology in useful, constructive ways.
Abraham Lincoln used the telegraph regularly, managing the Civil War from the White House as best he could starting in May 1862. Although Rutherford B. Hayes had the first White House telephone installed in 1877 (his telephone number was “1”), no president made much use of it — there wasn’t anyone to call — until Herbert Hoover had a phone installed in the Oval Office in 1929. Then it was on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio as a powerful tool starting in 1933 with his fireside chats. John F. Kennedy demonstrated television’s ability to shape image. Barack Obama was perhaps the first to make effective use of the internet — especially as a campaigning and lobbying tool.
Now we have the first Twitter President, and the media is fascinated. The simple fact that other Twitter-users can theoretically communicate directly, one-on-one, with the president himself (apparently in his bath robe, no less) is amazing enough.
But Trump shares his petty feuds with the entire civilized world; makes rather remarkable accusations against political opponents; and occasionally contradicts his advisors or puts his communications staff in awkward positions. While others like FDR used technology to soothe the masses, Trump has often used it to rile, poke and shame. We’ve never seen this kind of behavior before.
And you think, Jim, the media should just let Donald be Donald? As in, ignore him? That’s just not possible.
Trump’s tweets don’t often make the front page anymore, but stories that analyze the psychology of his Twitter behavior, and especially the ramifications of that behavior, will continue to be relevant.
Reader: I feel Star Parker’s column was not written to slant toward uplifting either party but from an intelligent person wanting the best for out country. I will continue to read her column if offered by The Californian.
All three new columnist choices would be an improvement. Personally I’d like all to be used and alternated.
Stephen Moore is an economist but recently took a job with CNN (so he may be morphed to spewing fake news with time), Brent Bozell is a stanch conservative and should be good for another political perspective and Star Parker would counter-balance viewpoints concerning the role of government vs personal responsibility, welfare, racism, etc., we currently get from Danny Morrison and Froma Harrop.
Thank you for getting rid of USA Today and trying to be more balanced. Would appreciate no more propaganda from the Washington Post. My morning coffee already tastes much better. All the best.
— Randy Grigg
Reader: I was appalled to see that the anti-free speech movement is alive in Bakersfield! The responses from some of those commenting in last week’s Sound Off about your three proposed new columnists were telling. The longest diatribes were from those who would deny a forum to any who would disagree with their ideas.
The five, two against L. Brent Bozell and three against Stephen Moore, were from members of an organization that opposes just about anything non-green. For me, I like them all (including the third, Star Parker)! I might disagree with some, but I get different perspectives on various issues, which is important if you want to understand the big picture.
— Lou Boll
Reader: Bakersfield has a large contingent of conservative Republicans as you know so that it would seem appropriate to add a conservative Republican journalist to your Opinion page. Although I don’t agree with most of her political opinions, I believe Star Parker is a very good journalist and presents her views in a very factual and informative way. She also has an excellent background in helping less educated and poorer citizens, of which Bakersfield has more than its share. I would strongly urge you to print her opinion pieces on a regular basis.
As to the other two, L. Brent Bozell III and Stephen Moore, I would just as strongly urge you NOT to publish their opinion pieces. Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center, whose sole mission is stated to be to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media. This would seem to be an attack on our very necessary free press, including The Californian.
Stephen Moore is a bit better but only a LITTLE bit better. He was outed by the Kansas City Star in 2014 for factual misrepresentations in an op-ed. His writings seem more like a “fake news” blogger than a journalist.
— John Ulman II
Reader: Robert Price has done it again. What can you say? Price has resurrected the new conservative Republican Christian version of the Three Stooges for their columns favoring our Golden Child President.
It was only a matter of time; he is under the gun to dig the hole to the right or get covered over. Well, one more dumb rock on the already tipping right will not change a thing.
Oh well, with our new “To Russia With Love” Republican conservative Christian mantra, what can go wrong? Mr. Apology, Robert Price, is on the job.
— Panfilo Fuentes
Price: Thanks for the input on our three prospective new columnists, each of whom leans right. We’ll have a verdict very soon. Just remember, our lineup of nationally syndicated columnists has never been etched in stone.
The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or send an email to email@example.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.