Reader: David Hogg was not on campus during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, where a lone gunman killed 17 people and injured 17 others ("Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg to hold lecture at CSUB," Sept. 20).
He was at home and hopped on his bike and claimed he pedaled as fast as he could. How would he know what the shooting was like? How did he survive the shooting when he was not on the campus? Some reporters don't even know the truth. Hogg is a liar.
Reader: It's sad that this young man is making out from this tragedy ... stating he was there, but could not provide proof/witness (corroboration) that he was there. I believe he is an opportunist.
Price: Is the Kegley Institute of Ethics, which is bringing in Hogg to speak next spring at CSUB, being suckered by the Rosie Ruiz of school gun violence? Eh, no.
Hogg was on the Stoneman Douglas campus at the time of the incident and hid for his life. As Time reported, Hogg and other students tried to exit the building after a fire alarm went off but a janitor sent them back. A culinary arts teacher, Ashley Kurth, pulled Hogg and others into a classroom, locked the door and instructed them to duck into a closet.
According to the fact-check site Politfact, Kurth confirmed Time's account weeks later in a March 30 report by the Associated Press. “I physically grabbed David by the arm and pulled him into my room,” Kurth said. “It is extremely frustrating the kind of information that is being put out there.”
The confusion, according to Politifact, which cites no fewer than 14 sources for its summary, stems from a CBS News interview with Hogg, a student journalist, who said he returned on his bike to the school at 6 p.m. that evening, about two hours after the lockdown was lifted. He brought his camera to do more filming.
A writer for the conservative blog RedState, who reported that the CBS video “is casting doubt” on Hogg’s whereabouts during the shooting, retracted her March 26 story and issued a tweet-thread apology, Politifact says. The story’s original headline was changed to read: “UPDATE: CBS Video Confusing. Hogg Was On Campus.”
All of this is easily confirmed with an online search. It took me about eight seconds.
Some of the online comments on Ema Sasic's story about Hogg's upcoming CSUB speech are astounding. Some suggest Hogg is somehow not qualified to talk about what he saw that day and what it means to him now. Must we hear only from pundits, academics and politicians, or is it acceptable to hear from those who were there, too?
Reader: Interesting article ("Newsom administration quietly stalls fracking permits," Sept. 17) in The Californian about Gov. Gavin Newsom's stopping fracking permits. One sentence in particular caught my eye, and I quote, "Environmentalists contend the practice risks harming groundwater and air quality."
Environmentalists, as well as politicians, newspapers, websites, cable shows, talking heads and Democrat presidential candidates always contend that there are risks but never offer actual instances of fracking harming groundwater or air quality or anything else.
The next sentence in the article says "Industry groups insist there is no evidence of environmental damage from fracking in California ..." I agree with that statement. Prove that those industry groups and I are wrong by assigning one of your investigative reporters to find and list all the provable instances where harmful damage has been caused by fracking.
— Byron R. Ayme
Price: I am scratching my head over your letter and so is John Cox, our business editor, who writes about the oil industry.
Two points: One, the sentence "Environmentalists contend the practice risks harming groundwater and air quality" is provably, irrefutably correct. Google "fracking" and "pollution" and you'll find environmentalists contending all over the place. The sentence does not say, "The practice risks harming groundwater and air quality." If it had, Cox, as you note, would have been obligated to produce evidence.
The sentence, "Industry groups insist there is no evidence of environmental damage from fracking in California ..." is also provably, irrefutably correct. You agree they're insisting, I agree they're insisting, pretty much everyone agrees they're insisting. Whether their contentions themselves are correct is the issue.
You accept the arguments of "industry groups" without the benefit of evidence in Cox's story but are dismissive of the arguments of "environmentalists" because of the same lack of evidence in the story. That's inconsistent. Do you require evidence or not?
The article, I should note here, was not intended to delve into whether or not fracking causes environmental harm. Cox was simply reporting that the state has ceased issuing fracking permits. Period.
You seem to be daring Cox to prove something he has never claimed to be the case.
I asked him about this. His response: "I've written a lot about fracking in Kern County. I'm unaware of any provable instances (of groundwater contamination from fracking operations). If I'm wrong, show me. I don't get it. We reported there are no such reports, and now he's asking me to list them. That's an awfully short list."
I'm filing your letter, Byron, with others that have mistaken our quest for thorough, balanced coverage of the local oil industry's challenges in this oil-unfriendly state for criticism of the industry. Some criticize the industry and we report their criticism; some defend it and we report their defense.
I've stopped counting the instances of shooting the messenger published in this column.
Reader: Why the full color, quarter-page-plus picture of NASCAR driver Martin Truex ("Truex races into 2nd round with win in opening playoff race," Sept. 17)? Kevin Harvick is local, a strong supporter of Bakersfield, but no pictures of his Indy win or coverage of his move to a strong second in the Championship standings. Kevin has contributed so much, especially to North High, and he should get better recognition.
The decline of The Bakersfield Californian is just beginning because it's too liberal, too national and too late. Most of the coverage is AP and we've seen it and heard it all 24 hours before it arrives on our porch. Also, all your readers are not minorities, Democrats, or gay. Please represent the community as it exists, not as you wish it to be.
— Karen Wass
Price: NASCAR racer Kevin Harvick is indeed a strong supporter of Bakersfield and an athlete and role model to be proud of. We really should try to publish something about his achievements once in a while.
Oh, wait: I checked our archive and found 420 separate articles published in The Californian since 2006 that mention his name. He is only 43 and at the top of his game, so I imagine we'll mention him another 420 times or more.
The article you cite, published Tuesday, was a second-day feature story on the Gibbs Racing team and Truex, the NASCAR points leader who won Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It only made sense to have a photo of the guy too. The "gamer" story, published Monday, mentioned Harvick extensively. "I felt like the Gibbs cars were better than us," Harvick, who finished second, said in part.
We rely on the Associated Press and its veteran motorsports reporter, Jenna Fryer, for most of our racing coverage. Fryer has written about Harvick dozens of times in bylined stories published in The Californian. Forgive her for profiling (and us for publishing her story about) the non-Bakersfield guy who won this particular race and leads Harvick, narrowly, in the standings.
I agree that Tuesday's second-day AP story should have at least mentioned Harvick, even if we inserted a paragraph ourselves, as we often do in these cases.
We shouldn't be delegating all of our Harvick coverage to wire services, I'll concede. But I tried to arrange an interview with Oildale's favorite son back in March and, after some limited initial success, never heard back.
Are you actually criticizing us for publishing newspapers with news already "24 hours" old by the time they hit your driveway? Surely I don't need to explain the realities of the printing press and the delivery driver. We could fly drones through your kitchen window (leave it open, please) every 20 minutes with special-edition newspapers and it still wouldn't keep up with the relentless pace of online and cable news delivery. What we can provide with newspapers is deeper-dive coverage, especially of local issues, than digital sources can typically offer.
"All" of our readers are not any one thing. I would like to see your evidence that a significant portion of them are not minorities, Democrats, or gay. Please accept the community as it exists, not as you wish it to be. Or at least acknowledge it.
Reader: Another great article by Steven Mayer ("A family's story: The search for 59563," Sept. 14); this one really resonated with me. I have been wanting to reach out to Steve since last March and ask him something: Has he considered taking all of his veteran/war stories and compiling them in a book? His stories are very personal and touch the human spirit and heart. I think if Robert Price can write a great book, so can Steve. Seriously, even if my story ("Filling in the gaps: Documents, decades-old memories flesh out Bakersfield man’s WWII history," March 9) is not included. Thanks again and I look forward to Steve's next story.
— Dennis Franey
Price: I realized five years ago I had enough material on the Bakersfield Sound for about half a decent book. Steve must've realized 10 years ago he already had enough for two or three volumes on the contributions of local veterans. Package each set with a flag and a box of tissue and I think he's got something.
Reader: Robert, thank you for your response on my letter regarding liberal bias. Your response makes it sound like The Californian has almost no control over what national news it selects to print and what headlines you put in the newspaper.
I have always thought the editor of a newspaper has considerable control over the content of their newspaper. I do not accept that contention nor do a number of your readers who have complained over the years about the bias and lack of fairness in The Californian’s national and political reporting. Was it the national press that wrote the headline, “Trump Lied” after the congressional testimony by former FBI Director James Comey or was it the writers at The Californian?
How come The Californian can never find a way to cover any significant news on the excellent state of the U.S. economy? While I like a number of features in The Californian, I have found that I can no longer tolerate the bias and unfair reporting of Robert Price and The Californian and that is why I sadly canceled my subscription.
— Richard Schwartz
Price: Your mention of the "Trump Lied" headline is a great example of the divergent ways we can view coverage of President Trump. You look at "Trump Lied" and see a liberal insult — a sensationalized, liberal insult at that — of this president. I see a historic and unprecedented moment in American history.
It helps to consider the entire June 9, 2017, headline, written by editors here at The Californian: "Former FBI chief's testimony: Trump Lied," with this longish subhead: "Comey’s statements paint portrait of a president who he said spoke falsely and bulldozed through governmental norms designed to protect the rule of law." That front-page, New York Post-style headline refers readers to a wire story on page 24, written by USA Today, that's printed under this headline, also written by USA Today: "No mincing words, Comey says Trump lied."
The fired FBI director, presenting highly anticipated, nationally televised, widely viewed testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, leveled a charge I doubt we've ever heard leveled at a president in such an auspicious setting. This was, by any measure, a huge story magnified by Comey's shocking and blunt accusation. No matter what you might think of Comey, his words had the nation's attention. I would be interested to know what Richard the editor would have done with it.
This is just one example — an extreme one — of the quandary regularly faced by the national (and often local) media: How do we fairly cover a president who generates a tremendous amount of controversy in the highly polarized political environment we have today? Answer: The best we can with the resources and limitations we have.