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: It always surprises me that I'm surprised when your paper omits anything about the pro-life marches held all over the country, yet you chose to have two large articles — with photos — in Sunday's paper of the Women's March and then another photo in your Jan. 23 paper. Not a word about the Pro-Life March even though this was the 45th year where hundreds of thousands gather in support of those who can't speak for themselves, the unborn.
This was also the first time a sitting president as well as vice president addressed the crowd via satellite. A Rose Garden reception was also a held, attended by the organizer of the event. These marches are held yearly on the third Sunday of January, sadly commemorating Roe vs. Wade, legalizing abortion.
There must have been an AP article which could have been reprinted in Sunday's paper. All I ask is you be more fair in your choice of reporting.
— Sharon Langham
Price: The March for Life had huge turnouts in several U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., but there was no march in Bakersfield that I'm aware of. If there was, organizers need to have a chat with the members of their publicity committee.
As I've said before, we are a local-first media company. We covered the Women's March the way we did because it had a noteworthy local presence.
Your criticism has some foundation, though. The March for Life "garnered the same negligible mention from the mainstream press" as always, one anti-abortion website complained, noting that the "Big 3" television networks devoted a combined 2 minutes and 6 seconds to the event in their evening news coverage.
We didn't ignore it, though. We published three articles related to the event: "Trump tells abortion opponents he'll defend right to life," from Bloomberg News (Jan. 20); "In Trump's first year, anti-abortion forces make strides," by Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News (Jan. 24); and "Autonomy, inclusion in the abortion debate," by columnist Michael Gerson (Jan. 24), the latter two appearing after your letter reached us.
But consider this: The March for Life, an annual event, focuses on one issue, albeit one that inspires enduring passion. The individual participants in the Women's March, in contrast, might have had any number of issues in mind, although the unifying theme seemed to be opposition to the persona and policies of this president. When millions march to demonstrate opposition to a president, that's something different — and it's news.
The Washington Post called the 2017 Women’s March on Washington likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history, perhaps matched only by the Vietnam War Moratorium days in 1969 and 1970, the first Earth Day in 1970; and the February 2003 demonstration against the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The 2017 Women's March drew an estimated 4 million people nationwide, according to the Post; estimates for 2018 are roughly half that number, although the marches were larger in Chicago and Philadelphia, and additional cities, such as Bakersfield, held their first marches.
Reader: They keep saying 3,000 people participated locally in the Women's March, but I have yet to see a picture of anything close to that number. Why not show something other than the first 50 to 60 people in the march in a closeup? Call me a cynic, but I don't trust the math used by our local propaganda pamphlet.
— Gary Johns
Price: I asked Curtis Nemetz, who shot drone video of this month's Women's March through downtown Bakersfield, if the turnout was in the hundreds or the thousands. He emphatically declared it was the latter. His video clearly backs that up; you can view it at bakersfield.com.
I guess it's appropriate, on the first anniversary of the "my inaugural crowd was bigger than yours" debate, to accuse one side or the other of inflating, or deflating, crowd size.
Reader: Congratulations on your resumption of a column mirroring Jim Day. I still remember the high honor as a kid of being mentioned in his Pipefuls column — and my Dad in those days actually smoked a pipe! Today, others will be similarly honored to be mentioned in your new column.
But did I miss it? I didn't see any name for your column — like "Glassfuls" or "Heartfuls" or even "Daysful" — or are you keeping us in suspense? Will your photo and some artwork accompany the heading of your column?
— John Pryor
Price: Thanks, John. Oh my, yes, it will certainly be an honor to be mentioned in my three-times-a-week column. Unless the subject matter makes it not.
I had planned on foregoing a column title, a la Pipelfuls, although I like your ideas. Anyone else have a suggestion? And, please, no borrowing adjectives from President Trump.
Reader: The piece about the golden eagle is terrific ("Injured golden eagle nursed back to health and released," Jan. 26). The front-page photo by Felix Adamo is about as perfect as a photograph can be, and the article written by Kelly Ardis answered all my questions. Needed a good news story. Thank you!
Hope there may be some good news in the future about the eagle’s survival and successful return to her territory.
— Pam Wildermuth
Reader: Since you like printing Jennifer Rubin's columns in the paper, please inform her that her moniker is misleading. She doesn't write from "A Conservative Perspective" like she says she does.
Her subtle innuendos and extreme tirades against Trump's policies indicate she's anything but a conservative. Who's she kidding anyhow? She should quit trying to pull the wool over our eyes and tell her readers that she's really writing from a "Liberal Extremist Perspective."
— Dennis Tope
Price: Jennifer Rubin criticizes Trump on a regular basis, but it's his behavior in office and his isolationist bent that draw her ire and not so much his domestic economic policies. She is not the only conservative national columnist who is hard on Trump; Michael Gerson and Rich Lowry, to name the two leading conservatives in our stable, also have issues with this president. That doesn't make them any less conservative.
Rubin's conservative credentials are pretty close to impeccable. She joined the Washington Post after three years with Commentary, a leading conservative magazine, and her work has appeared often in The Weekly Standard, which has been called "the neo-con bible."
Maintaining a consistently conservative stance and supporting President Trump are not the same thing.
Reader: You still print so much fake news in your paper it is not worth reading. People are tired of reading all your liberal views every day. I picked up the Jan. 16 paper to go to the obits page and this (photos attached) is what I see. Wow! Nothing changes in this paper.
You print everything negative there is to print. Don't tell me people don't write letters in support of Trump.
— Name withheld
Price: The first two photos you sent show letters and columns submitted by local readers. Apparently you don't agree with the opinions they express. What shall I do with them? Tell readers, sorry, people, we don't print opinions that criticize the president? Is that what you would do? Tell me how I should handle those readers' submissions.
The third photo shows a news story from our pages that appeared the morning after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King's children had given Jan. 15 speeches that all criticized the president. Tell me what you, as editor-for-a-day, would do with that story. Ignore it? These were King's children speaking on the national holiday that honors their father.
We print virtually all the letters we get. If we receive more anti-Trump letters than pro-Trump letters in a given week, we will end up printing more anti-Trump letters. The tally might at times seem tilted, in part, because people are just generally more likely to criticize than praise. That's human nature. Barack Obama can identify; every president has been there.
If you don't like the imbalance, write us a pro-Trump letter and get your friends to write some too. If they make any sense at all we'll print them. Same with Community Voices articles.
Our focus is local news and local sports. The national news is usually just two or three pages. Skip those pages if you don't like them.
Reader: Reader Stephen Montgomery, who criticized me in your Jan. 13 Sound Off, has to realize Trump exhibits many of the traits of King David, Jesus’ ancestor, warts and all. He is also a very childlike man — "Of such is the kingdom of God." His love of beauty and quality is expressed in his over 500 successful, beautiful, quality, well-run projects and their surroundings. He's had enough failures and missteps like all of us to give mockers plenty of ammunition. My saintly wife started praying for him and writing him well before he announced.
Keep up the good work, Robert. If we’re all pissed off, that’s a good sign.
— Gerald V. Todd
Price: Many fascinating historical figures come to mind when I think of Donald Trump. King David has never been one of them. But if you see greatness of Biblical proportion in King Donald, run with it.
Price: Readers are still weighing in on President Trump's "shithole countries" portrayal of Haiti and other nations — a comment he insists he didn't make, despite what witnesses say. My question was: Should we be using the word "shithole" in this newspaper? (We decided it was permissible if used judiciously.)
Reader: If the president says it, then it is news. If the president uses crude, denigrating language about the people who come to the United States in pursuit of the American dream, then every American needs to know and be a part of the discussion. Maybe that term can be waved off as barroom talk, but not when the president says it. Barflies do not make policy or represent the values of the United States — presidents do. If President Trump thinks so little of those coming to United States, remembering that we are all descendants of immigrants, and is willing to say so in a policy meeting, we must ask ourselves are these the values we hold. Is the shining city of the hill that Reagan spoke of still America, or is it the chamber pot that Trump speaks of?
— Alex Wiyninger
Reader: Yes, please print what is "on the record," whatever that may truthfully and factually be.
— Dick Albright
Reader: Yes, use the term. In the body of the story, not the headline. Your headline can simply refer to a vulgarity.
— Steven Montgomery
Reader: Robert, I've always been "Old Testament" in my approach to the news. Unsparing. Tell it all. Tell it straight. Tell it unvarnished.
— Don Clark
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