Reader: Sorry to see our Bakersfield paper go off the anti-Trump cliff with the other 300-plus lemming national papers this past Thursday ("Our View: Media here for the people," Aug. 15). If 10 of your friends call you a jerk, maybe you're a jerk. Likewise, if tens of millions of people call out the media, print and broadcast, for putting out fake news, maybe you are putting out fake news.
For months after Trump's election, we subscribers were subjected to New York Times and Washington Post articles all attributed to anonymous sources describing Russian collusion, chaos in the White House and other stories. All of them turned out to be phony. It got to the point where the time I spent reading the paper wrapped up very quickly because as soon as I saw "anonymous sources" I stopped reading. In my 70 years, I've never seen such media bias against a duly elected president.
— Jeff Humphreys
Price: Those 300 lemmings took different, independent approaches, but the central message was essentially the same: The news media is not the enemy of the people, as the president has claimed more than once. The Californian's editorial sought to take that a step further and reinforce that local newspapers are vital tools of civic engagement, presented by people who live, work and raise families in the communities they serve. Our publication of your complaint is but one small example of that commitment to civic engagement and open dialogue. Enemies of the people don't generally abide, much less encourage, criticism.
No one in the media is particularly fond of using anonymous sources, but the circumstances that prompt news organizations to use them are well understood by all of the players in Washington. Insider critics of the administration aren't the only people who volunteer themselves as anonymous sources. This White House and many before it have used strategic "leaks" to get their stories out, too.
You can tell a story based on an anonymous source contains truth when the White House rages about insider leaks but hardly bothers to refute the information that the leaker has actually leaked.
All of these stories turned out to be phony, you say? I beg to differ. You cite supposed Russian collusion and chaos in the White House. Robert Mueller is conducting an investigation into alleged Russian collusion with members of the Trump campaign, and it has reached no conclusions. So no one can really say what's phony and what's not — although it seems noteworthy that Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in July for alleged interference in the 2016 election.
As for alleged chaos, consider that staff turnover in the first year of the Trump administration was 34 percent, exceeding the first-year turnover of the five preceding presidencies, according to the Brookings Institution. And that number doesn't include Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality TV star turned fired White House aide who apparently walked the halls with a hidden tape recorder. Those are verifiable facts; no anonymous sources required.
By the way, Mr. Humphreys: We don't use The New York Times.
Reader: The L.A. Times and S.F. Chronicle agreed with me when I said participating in the Boston Globe's call for coordinated editorials against Trump's "enemy" accusations would be a mistake, and their opinion editors cited the exact same reason I did in declining to join in. They decided to maintain their independence.
President Trump went where we thought he would afterward and charged the media with collusion, which fed into his previous statements. PR-wise it was a bad move for The Californian: I don't think people felt negatively about their local paper in most places, and now they might.
Participating might make the people at these newspapers feel better for a moment, but it will be fleeting. I haven't heard anyone accuse The Californian or any smaller paper of being in a national "collusion," but now to some this may be their evidence.
— David Brust
Price: Participating in Thursday's coordinated objection to Trump's characterization of the news media did not mean anyone sacrificed their independence. Every newspaper wrote uniquely distinct editorials and not all of them agreed on every point. No one dictated talking points. I've been writing about so-called "fake news," and how voters must learn to differentiate for themselves, for almost two years in this space.
We risk alienating readers every day; that's the nature of a newspaper. We strive to be fair in our news pages and balanced in our opinion pages, but some readers will always find fault and sometimes they'll be correct.
Our editorial criticized Trump but also placed much of the blame on the news media. Some people disliked it anyway. We accept that.
I fully expected Trump to shout "collusion," just as you did, David. John Diaz, the Chronicle’s editorial page editor, forecast the same thing in explaining his newspaper's decision to sit out this effort. This seems like a good place to explain the different between collusion and coordination. Collusion is secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, usually to cheat or deceive. Publicly announced-in-advance coordination is its antithesis.
Diaz, by the way, managed to say in his published explanation precisely what most participating newspapers said in their editorials: That "Trump’s assault on the truth generally, and his efforts to diminish the free press specifically, pose a serious threat to American democracy."
Reader: The press, in a lot of instances, doesn't report things of importance. Like nowhere in any noteworthy papers have I seen anything about the fact that this John Brennan is a Muslim. Anytime there are terrorist attacks the press tries to downplay the Muslim part.
Have a ... reasonable day.
— Dr. Richard O'Reilly
Price: I cannot find any evidence that Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2013 to January 2017, is a Muslim, although reams of speculation about it are out there.
Anyway, so what? Brennan's religious convictions would matter only if he were aiding and abetting Muslim extremists. That would be quite a feat for a man whose works surrounds him with spies, some of whom are listening in on Muslim extremists' phone conversations as I write this.
Brennan would also have pulled the burqa over the eyes of 12 former U.S. intelligence chiefs, including former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, and former CIA directors David Petraeus and Leon Panetta.
Those 12 intelligence chiefs, who served in administrations representing both parties, responded to Trump's revocation of Brennan's security clearance this week by signing a letter to the president describing Brennan as “enormously talented, capable and patriotic.”
Trump cited Brennan's "unfounded and outrageous allegations" in revoking his clearance. Nobody has said a word about Brennan's religion, whatever it may be. And if memory serves, Trump isn't shy about calling people Muslims.
Reader: While I appreciate TBC for publishing my letter in the Aug. 16 paper ("Positive results of MAGA"), someone on your staff inadvertently referenced the wrong Forum article I was writing about. The article I was referring to, published Aug. 9 and referenced in my title, was "Trump should learn from LeBron and fight hunger" by William Lambers. It was not Jerry Brewer's Aug. 12 column, which also addressed the issue involving President Trump and LeBron James. This oversight on your part clearly flies in the face in your simpatico editorial for The Boston Globe.
— Greg Laskowski
Price: Actually, Greg, in a sense that oversight supports our editorial. The Californian wrote, "The news media has ... occasionally misquoted or otherwise erred, feeding Trump’s 'fake news' narrative ..." Of course we make mistakes. We're humans, working on tight deadlines. Our every oversight is right there for many thousands of people to see, and ridicule if they choose, in perpetuity. We correct errors as quickly as we can, as we have done with this one. My apologies.
Reader: Did anyone notice that the word “alleged” was missing from the Associated Press story in your Aug. 15 paper? I am referring to the Pennsylvania Diocese priests scandal — and here is where the word "alleged" should have been used. I have no doubt that abuses have gone unreported and it is shameful. But I question why it has taken so long for victims to come forward.
We are accountable for the lives we live and I hope and pray that cool heads will prevail.
— Rita Loken
Price: Rita, the AP story said "according to a grand jury report released Tuesday." It was not "allegedly released" by the grand jury, it was definitely, provably released by the grand jury.
The Vatican, I should note, is not treating these as mere allegations. It called the sex abuse described in the grand jury report as "criminal and morally reprehensible."
Reader: The title of this Aug. 15 article is "Sending you kid off to school." Hopefully my kids will not become journalists and will learn that we ain't sending you kid off to school. It's sending YOU'R kid off to school. TBC = pathetic.
— Stating the obvious
Price: Thank you for you'r contribution. The headline with the missing "r" was corrected (without you'r apostrophe) moments after it was posted and never made it into print.