Readers like to complain that the national news media is picking on President Trump by characterizing his every step in the worst possible light.
I usually rise up in the media's defense: This is, after all, the president of the United States, and his every twitch is going to be documented, period. Every modern president has endured it.
Add the fact that Trump creates news in ways no presidential predecessor has approached, from his antagonistic tweets (which sometimes contradict his administration's policy positions) to his pugilistic characterizations of political rivals, foreign leaders and, of course, the press.
But it's only fair that I call out the media when it piles on, too. And such was the case with Wednesday's story (in The Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN and elsewhere) that the president and first lady had opted to take the presidential parade limousine, with its usual coterie of accompanying vehicles, some 250 yards from the White House to Blair House, the presidential guest quarters, to greet former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.
Covering 250 yards on a cold December day in Washington is not like walking to the other side of a banquet hall. It's 2½ football fields. Trump is no spring chicken, either: He is 72, and not as svelte as he might once have been.
The news reports noted that Barack Obama, as president, made the same walk several times. But The Post, to its credit, added that former first lady Michelle Obama, in her autobiography “Becoming,” wrote that the Secret Service sometimes requested she or her husband “take the motorcade instead of walking in the fresh air” to Blair House for security reasons.
Perhaps that was the case here. Or perhaps Trump simply didn't feel up to it. Maybe he just really likes his limousine. Walking that long walk instead of riding would have provided better optics, a consideration not foreign to this president, but it's his call.
Trump will soon do or say something outrageous or controversial that will prove justifiably newsworthy, so it's not like the media needs new material.
Reporting Trump's 250-yard limo ride just fuels the perception that the national media, in addition to being appropriately attentive and tough, also simply loves to poke the bear.
Reader: I write a ton of letters, mostly unread by this redneck media outlet. During the last 10 years everyone from The Californian to city, county and KHSD officials have filtered out my letters. They toss them in the trash can, preferring to dance with those Republican Conservative Christians. I always found it laughable that regardless of how evil or lying or coded racist those letters written by others might be, they would be printed.
I recently explained this to someone who asked me why my letters were never printed. He disagreed with my reasoning and we made a bet: I would write a letter complimentary of a Republican and send it to The Californian and see what happens. So I wrote about George H.W. Bush, who I really admired for his toughness, ethics and humility. A real war hero, not the kind of loudmouth racist we have come to love in Kern County.
My test made The Californian's biased mentality crystal clear. Thanks for the vindication.
— Panfilo Fuentes
Price: Pay up, Pete. We received your letter via email on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 11:37 a.m. Our letters editor, Ema Sasic, edited it when she came in Monday and posted it online at 3:34 p.m. Your follow-up letter of complaint arrived via email Tuesday at 9:51 a.m. Your Bush letter ("A great loss for our country") was published in our print edition Dec. 5.
However, yes, most of your letters do go in the trash. You often write four a day, sometimes responding to articles and letters that had been published online literally just minutes before, and we just don't have the time to get to them all. But, despite the daily Panfilo blitz, I wish we had more readers like you.
Reader: Mr. Price, thank you for the wonderful article in the Dec. 5 Bakersfield Californian about Pearl Harbor and enlistment in the Navy ("Pearl Harbor? No, let's talk enlistment in the Navy"). I would like to honor Bob Berman.
— Ron Kean
Price: Mr. Berman was reluctant to talk about his war experience and he didn't want his photo published in the newspaper, although he did record a video expressly for schools and students who might want to consider a career in the Navy. Teachers are encouraged to view it and consider showing it to their students. It's posted on Bakersfield.com. I'd love to hear from teachers who've done so.
Mr. Berman, who is 98, called me to clarify that he was not aboard ship when the USS Maryland was hit by Japanese bombs that Sunday morning. He was up close and personal for all of those other Pacific theater battles involving the Maryland, however.
And he said he's been thanked enough.
Reader: It’s Dec. 1 and I just finished reading Joseph Luiz’s story online ("County crackdown on underage tobacco sales yields results," Dec. 3) about our youth tobacco program here at the Department of Kern County Public Health. It’s excellent. In fact, you all have been just superb in your coverage of public health issues and campaigns this year.
So I’m feeling a little mushy.
You make my job so rewarding when you get the facts right, capture the spirit of a story, and even when you come at me with the tough questions. I just wanted to thank you all.
— Michelle Corson
Price: We get it right once in a while. The county's anti-tobacco campaign is worthwhile and we're happy to cover it.