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 editors.
Reader: The April 22 Associated Press article you printed, “Battle for Berkeley: Will Ann Coulter spark another clash?” was beyond biased. It states that “both (meaning the anarchists and right-wingers) favor hoods to conceal their identities and a variety of weapons, including Molotov cocktails, brass knuckles and soda cans filled with concrete.” The anarchists who are against free speech are the ones that conceal their faces, wear black to appear ISIS-like and use those weapons!
Berkeley is supposed to be a beacon of free speech, but has become the antithesis. They will simply not allow any speakers of a conservative bent.
This article also states that a “bloody brawl” broke out at a pro-Trump rally (it wasn’t a “protest,” as the article called it). The ones causing all the violence is the leftist/progressive/brainwashed students and professors (who, by the way are doing a bang-up job of indoctrinating the students to hate America, white people and the rule of law).
Your newspaper has become a pro-leftist rag. Virtually all the political cartoons are anti-Trump as well.
— Anne Grogan
The Californian’s Robert Price responds: It took me about eight seconds to find a Reuters photo of three Trump supporters in full battle gear — full-face helmets, kerchief masks, “Make America Great Again” shirts — so I’m inclined to believe that the AP reporter was correct. Search Google Images and you can find photos like that too.
Who started the violence? I don’t know. How do you know? Clearly many of the thuggish rioters are anti-Trump, but who travels to Berkeley in full battle regalia, right or left, unless they’re spoiling for a fight?
You’re right about Berkeley’s descent from bastion of free speech to capital of intolerance. It’s despicable and tragic.
Reader: Some fact checking was in order before the April 24 letter to the editor was published (“Marching to McCarthy’s House”). Congressman Kevin McCarthy was not at a $10,000 per plate fundraiser but rather at a Boys and Girls Club event. Condoleezza Rice was the speaker and Mr. McCarthy was there in support of this excellent organization. The cost charged to participants all went to Boys and Girls Club to help at risk youth in our community. No money went to the congressman. This is a far cry from a high dollar fundraiser. A call from TBC to his district office would have easily clarified this. ... Printing the letter is a way to make him look bad with twisted facts.
— Janet Thomson
Price: The fundraiser, referenced in a Feb. 22 article by our Steven Mayer, was the Kern County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, held Feb. 21 at the Doubletree Hotel. The Boys & Girls Club event was held the following night. Donors at the Lincoln Day Dinner who paid a premium got special access but regular tickets were priced $75 to $200, not $10,000 per plate, a distinction the letter did not make clear and we should have caught.
The writer’s point was that McCarthy can find the time to attend other events such as Republican Party fundraisers but not meet with his constituents.
That strikes me as fair commentary.
McCarthy has every right and perhaps even a duty to attend fundraisers. But, as reticent members of Congress across the country have learned in the past few months, voters expect and demand their representatives to give them some face time, uncomfortable as it might occasionally be.
Reader: I just read Steven Mayer’s article on cannabis (“Local cannabis smokers, advocates to celebrate 420 with a bake,” April 20). I never ever do this but I was just actually calling to say thank you.
It was the best article I’ve read in a long time. And I hope that it really brings people in touch with the true reason that cannabis is becoming legal now, because (the opposing arguments are) ... a bunch of propaganda they have spread for years.
Anyway thank you for bringing light to the subject. I hope you had a great 420.
— Holly Smith
Reader: Wasn’t it philosopher Karl Marx that declared, “Religion is the opium of the masses”? Now it’s “Marijuana is the opium of the masses.” The Californian is guilty of aiding and abetting the chemical gurus, pied pipers, mind merchants and weavers of chemical illusion in their collective goal to turn America into a drugs-r-us, “pharmacracy,” where a populace is governed not by moral laws, but by me, myself and I — “medicinal highs.” It has been rightly said that “Money doesn’t grow on trees; it grows on marijuana bushes.”
The Californian proves this is true, not by its large coverage of the stoner’s “Christmas,” but by the number of pot-growers and sellers advertisements within those pages of 4/20 coverage.
To parodize a popular classic by Bob Dylan, “Pot sellers in their basements mixing up some medicine / the Californian’s hitting the pavement selling their advertisements.”
Price: Pot smokers and other advocates of recreational marijuana celebrated “420 Day” last week, not just in Kern County but across the country. The day had special significance in California because this was the first 420 since citizens voted to make it legal in this state last November.
The placement of those colorful pot-shop ads around Steve’s story was jarring to many readers, no doubt, but as I noted last week, The Californian routinely places ads on or near news pages containing similarly themed content. Our Faith pages are a prime example.
We journalists may not like to admit it, but sometimes the accompanying advertisements are an important, even key, part of the story. This was about as perfect an example as I’ve seen. Steve’s story essentially described the emergence of pot culture, and its attendant commercial aspect, from the darkness of illicit consumption into the daylight. How better to show that than with a bunch of ads with all the subtlety of “2-for-1 brunch buffet” coupons?
Reader: Herb Benham ought to trade in his sense of humor. I refer to his recent column (“Hitting a dump in the road,” April 18) where he gleefully takes his readers on a ride along to the county dump. Amazingly he describes in detail how his uncovered load of trash flies out of his truck adding to the roadside garbage which plagues this county. After confirming he has not caused an accident he proceeds to Bena happily munching tacos. [Wanna bet where the wrappers went.] It’s bad enough having to deal with unknown slobs who trash our local roads and highways. But to have a self-anointed “pillar” of the community admit to it is disgusting.
— Tom Stanton
Price: Herb assures me the taco wrappers were properly disposed of. And he’s been working toward having that “pillar” designation rescinded for several years now. He clearly had been concerned about packing his truck bed so as to prevent the flying Styrofoam, so he does have a conscience. I prefer to look at that column as a confession: “I had become that guy. ‘That guy.’ ‘That guy’ who loses stuff from the back of a truck while he’s blissfully munching a couple of crispy tacos with hot sauce.” Sin no more, Herb.
Reader: José Gaspar wrote a nice tribute to his late mother in the April 24 paper, but then your editors crowned it with a grammatical belly flop: “Her’s was a life well-lived.” Someone owes José an apology.
— Allan Krauter
Price: I shuddered when I saw that too. No such word exists. Years ago a copy editor here at The Californian actually changed the word in the first sentence of my Sunday top-of-A1 story from “hers” to “her’s” and it scarred me for life. We see “it’s” as a possessive all too often but not so much “her’s.” I have yet to see “hi’s” and hope I never do.
Our apologies, Jose.
Reader: Thanks for the plug (No. 8 in your April 22 “10 Things”) for the Mega Adoption event on April 23. Unfortunately, the item starts off by referencing a fictitious, non-existent agency, the “Kern County Animal Care Center.” Kern County runs the Animal Shelter on Fruitvale Avenue. The City of Bakersfield runs the Animal Care Center on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Would that these two jurisdictions actually unite and form a joint Metro Bakersfield Animal Care and Control agency so that we could, indeed, have a couple of campuses of a Kern County Animal Care Center. And this almost happened a few years ago, so it’s not a new idea. But in the meantime, we are stuck with two separate agencies with two separate facilities, neither of which is the Kern County Animal Care Center. Your attention to minor details like this seems to have waned in the past few months.
Price: At the time the city and county were first pondering a split of their animal control agencies, we editorialized in favor of reconciliation. Alas, they didn’t listen. The resulting division inconveniences the public and apparently causes confusion here too. Thanks for reminding us.
Reader: Your April 22 Sound Off was just too much rehashing of the same items, not enough variety. Of course Mr. Price is obviously extremely knowledgeable and has an abundance of equipment at his disposal to look things up. That is why most Sound Offs are good but I must say last week’s was very disappointing. Cover some sports once in a while.
— William Goldman
Price: Two things, Bill. One, we here in the Sound Off Department can only respond to what we’re asked about. Two — and this is the really important point — with a few exceptions, I have exactly the same resources to do my research as anyone with an internet connection. In an era where everyone with a social media account is a producer as well as a consumer of “news,” it’s incumbent on everyone to check things out. All it takes is a smidgeon of patience and the unwillingness to be suckered. Trust (or distrust) but verify. Politifact.com and FactCheck.org are two good places to start.
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