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: In Harold Pierce's story about Congressman David Valadao advocating for Obamacare's Teaching Health Centers Plan ("Valadao introduces legislation to fund centers that train physicians in rural areas," July 26), I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Pierce had failed to include a very important fact about Valadao.
He has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare. Had Mr. Pierce included this vital fact in his story, it would have portrayed Valadao in a more truthful manner, and the readers would be informed that the congressman is trying to speak out of both sides of his mouth. One side celebrates one of the many benefits of Obamacare and the other side disparages it. I don't know if it's Mr. Pierce, his editor, or The Californian's publisher who allowed such an incomplete and misleading story to be printed.
— Brian Russom
Price: Harold's story was all of 219 words, a short article intended to simply get out the essential facts, most likely because of time and space constraints. I guess we'd be safe in guessing that a whole lot of relevant information was excluded. That said, I'm not disagreeing that some brief reference to Valadao's past opposition to the ACA would have been appropriate.
Reader: Robert, do you think the First Amendment can survive the Trump administration?
— Leslie Eyraud
Price: Too many Americans are talking about the importance of the First Amendment these days for it to be meaningfully compromised by any mortal politician. We can actually thank the Trump administration for this helpful discourse: If "fake news" had never entered the lexicon we might never have had cause to really consider the differences between objectivity and opinion, rhetoric and disinformation, hyperbole and outright lies. We might never have persuaded the likes of Google to find better ways of filtering the reliable from the unreliable.
Of greater concern to me is the number of voters who subscribe to the theory that news that reflects poorly on one's favorite politician is necessarily "fake." Sometimes the news is just bad, or the politician in question unskilled at managing it.
Reader: In publishing the July 23 letter, "Gerson vs. our visionary president," it appears you violated your own rules. And I'm angered that a modicum of excellent editing could not have been exerted.
The writer just finagled your paper to spread lies that are obviously lies.
Do you ever retract or apologize for anything? "Obama and his Muslim Brotherhood allies"? Really? You're better than this.
— Name withheld
Price: Sometimes a letter writer's world view is so fascinatingly skewed we are tempted to let it go, and this time we did. We probably should have invoked rule number 13 from the "reasons to reject" handbook: Letters that criticize "an ideology, party, nationality, etc., without specific examples."
Reader: After reading Steven Mayer's LBGTTQQ-leaning report ("Locals react to to ban on transgender military service," July 27), I had to review the posts on one of the Facebook pages. I found that there was about a 2 to 1 ratio of responses that favored the president's decision to not accept openly transvestite and transgender enlistees.
— Will Winn
Price: I don't doubt that your estimated 2 to-1 ratio on Facebook responses is about right. Steve's story sought to get reaction primarily from people in and near the local gay-lesbian-transgender community, so a LBGTQ "lean" should not be surprising. That's why we also posed the question on Facebook and published some of the responses, some of which were supportive of Trump's tweet-edict — to give other opinions a platform.
Reader: At the beginning of World War II, my parents started teaching me to read (at the age of 7) the comic strips of the L.A. Examiner, L.A. Times and The Bakersfield Californian. The war, sports and political editorials at college age consumed probably too much of my time, and now I limit most of my reading to The Californian.
The reporters and writers have varying viewpoints. Prompting me to write was Valerie Schultz's column of July 8 about raising her four daughters. She is as good at writing as she is, without any doubt, at being a parent.
Speaking about investigative reporting, Lois Henry would be an asset to any big city newspaper.
Also, a note of appreciation for Robert Price, Herb Benham, the syndicated columns of Charles Krauthammer and several others.
— G.H. (Jerry) Preuitt
Price: You have expressed admiration for journalists who write from conservative, liberal, moderate and agnostic perspectives. Allow me to express my admiration to you.
Reader: Do you really believe that George Will is in any way, shape or form a conservative columnist? It's opinionated comments such as this from May 3: "So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict."
I believe that President Trump is doing what is best as events unfold, but he's just not given a fair pass by the press.
— Jon Buck
Yes, Will has been a consistent critic of the president. But that doesn't mean he is not conservative. First, many conservatives have argued that Trump isn't a conservative at all. Google "Trump is not conservative." Plenty has been written on that subject.
Second, Will's primary complaint about Trump isn't his conservative credentials, but his ability as a leader. It has nothing to do with ideology or economic models; Will's criticism is Trump's alleged lack of character and temperament.
Will hasn't turned in his conservative card. He did, quite literally, turn in his Republican card, though.
This is all moot, of course; we've dropped Will. We'll announce a right-leaning replacement soon.
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