Reader: Your columnist, Leonard Pitts, wrote that Nathan Phillips, the Native American elder who was mixed up in that incident in Washington with the high school kids from Kentucky, was a "Vietnam veteran." Fake news! The man served in the military during that time but that doesn't make him a Vietnam veteran, and he wasn't.

— No name given

Price: Native American elder Nathan Phillips has described himself as a "Vietnam times" veteran, and records support that; in his syndicated column published in The Californian Jan. 24, Leonard Pitts — going off news reports circulating at the time he wrote the column — referred to Phillips as a "Vietnam veteran." That's incorrect.

Whether Pitts properly characterized the nature of Phillips' service, or Phillips misrepresented himself, as some have alleged, Pitts' point about the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial is valid: "If the story has grown more complicated, what hasn't changed is the sense that those images capture a nation at the breaking point." This story has pitted one side of the partisan divide against the other with an intensity like few others in past months. If that was Pitts' point, he was right on the money.

Reader: Hello! I’m sending you a correction for Justin Salters' Jan. 15 column. He erroneously states Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s current and correct title. It should be House minority leader. Not now nor ever has it been House Republic (sic) leader. I don’t know if you have noted a correction, as I was out of town and still making my way through back papers.

— Renee Nelson

Price: The editor who proofread Salters' column should be flogged. Oh, wait! That was me. My apologies to you both.

Yes, a typo: It should have been Republican leader, and yes, that is an interchangeably accurate title for McCarthy, who indeed is House minority leader.

Don't take my word for it: We are in possession of a Jan. 9 news release from McCarthy's office that introduces him as "House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23)."

Reader: In your Jan. 18 edition: "Cohen was ordered to lie to Congress by Trump; Dems outraged." Front page.

In your Jan. 19 edition: "Mueller spokespeople say BuzzFeed story not true." Page 8.

Once again, fair and balanced “reporting” by The Californian.

— George Doucette

Price: Part two of the story should be given equal weight to part one of the story, especially if part two discredits all or most of part one. So your point is well-taken.

But the mechanics of newspaper layout, along with our local-first focus, throw us all for a bit of a loop here. Jan. 18 was a Friday, and our weekday papers are tabloid format; Jan. 19 was a Saturday, and our weekend papers are full-sized. Our weekday papers allow for small headlines at the bottom of the page, which we call "refers," that direct readers to various sections, such as Sports, Eye Street and Nation/World, which is the only non-local section we so reference. That's how the "Cohen was ordered to lie" story made the front page. Our Saturday papers are less likely to reference Nation/World because there's usually more good local "stuff" to tell readers about.

That's how this happened. You can believe whatever you'd like, though.

Reader: My husband and I had just moved from Ventura to Bakersfield in 1996. Our daughters followed us here shortly after that. Anna and Nora were about 23 and 21 at the time. The picture I submitted for publication of the Bakersfield snowfall on Jan. 25, 1999, is bittersweet as we lost Anna in 2016 due to breast cancer. This snow day was a wonderful, magical, fun day. Thanks for all you do for all of us.

— Molly McKean Sabat

Reader: Great story about snow day 1999. Dana, our daughters and I have chatted about that day many times. It was such a marvel, especially living downtown.

We've lived in Nebraska for several years. Waking up to 7 degrees (without windchill) and 8 inches of old icy snow, gets old! The sharp contrast between the Bako snow miracle, and living in snow for three months, is part of our discussion.

Soon we will relocate to Killeen, Texas, where I will start as rector in a nice church with a preschool, and Dana will continue her good work with trees. After this winter, any snow day will be a miracle — again!

— Steve Karcher

Price: It's a little wacky that so many people remember that day so fondly when snow is such a mundane fact of life in so many other cities, but that's the case.

As I tried to express in my Jan. 25 column and the accompanying main story, it's not so much the snow itself that mattered as the people we were with and the experiences we shared.

Reader: Extremely serious topic this time. The difficulty level on the Sudoku puzzle is incorrect. Previously, it was predictable that Monday and Tuesday had easier puzzles; Wednesday would be more involved, with increases in difficulty till Saturday's puzzle capped them all. 

Now, that's no longer true. I've seen Tuesday puzzles that were more difficult than the Friday puzzle. 

— Larry Dunn

Price: Larry, what you haven't grasped here is that the puzzle-makers are further confounding those with advanced skills by delivering these out-of-order difficulty levels. You must embrace the uncertainty.

OK, I just made that up.

The Californian's Robert Price answers your questions and takes your complaints about our news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

(3) comments


Lets not forget this is not the first time Nathan Phillips has lied about things either. Also lets forget to mention his AWOL as well. He was not "honorably discharged" but he was "discharged". In 4 years never made it past the rank of PRIVATE!! This guy is a hero, I call BS on that!!


Headlines are everything . . . right?
These words, "SOUND OFF: Vietnam vet or not, confrontation stirred the country" . . . your headline? A 'Native American elder Nathan Phillips has described himself as a "Vietnam times" veteran, and records support . . . '(your words again, Mr. Price?). And . . . who caused the confrontation?
"Vietnam times"? The official term is "Vietnam Era" (VA--1961-1975).
The only 'in country' award was The 'Vietnam Service Medal' (VSM--serving in Vietnam and its contiguous waters or airspace, 1965 Johnson). Phillips never saw Vietnam duty (read his DD-214). There is also the NDSF (National Defense Service Medal, 1953 Ike--"national emergency"). Another foreign service award was the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM,1961 JFK--foreign OPS supporting UN). Did Phillips have any of these or even a 'Good Conduct Medal' (1941--Exemplary conduct, efficiency, fidelity, 3 years enlisted ACDU)?
As a known perennial activist, it appears video shows he approached the Covington group in their 'space', not vice versa.
This created a (military jargon) headline covering (6) items, of which (5) were totally unrelated.
Isn't this kind of journalism often observed as "intentionally spurious "?


Love this column and TBC.

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