California Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke to reporters immediately after touring Chevron's large oil leak near McKittrick on July 24.

Reader: It’s very obvious the new owners of TBC are anti-oil, anti-Bakersfield and anti-Kern County. When an oil leak in McKittrick is front-page news ("Governor promises balanced approach after touring McKittrick-area oil leak," July 25) I have to think newsworthy stories are not their focus. 

An oil leak in our coastal regions is newsworthy due to the environmental issues it creates. McKittrick is a desolate, oil-rich area. Many leaks have taken place over the past 50 years I’ve been in the business but I don’t recall any getting front-page news. What you call a “very significant" leak is sensationalism; an attempt to sell papers. A very liberal approach. Oil companies bring many tax dollars to Bakersfield and are also very civic-minded with donations to many causes. About time TBC supports their efforts with a more conservative approach.

I realize, at some point, that fossil fuels must be replaced by friendlier energy sources but that is going to take many years. I have lived all my life here and oil has supported my kids and grandkids. 

Might be nice to also publish the opinions of people who are in the oil and gas industry and have some knowledge on the impact of such a leak along with the opinion of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is ignorant on the subject. Running his opinion without publishing the facts based on information from people who know what they are talking about is what makes you “liberal media.”

— Denney Evans

Price: No, running the governor’s opinion on the McKittrick oil leak without publishing information from people who know what they are talking about would not make us “liberal media.” It might make us "irresponsible media." That characterization doesn't apply here either, though.

Newsom didn't come to Kern County and spout his opinion about the McKittrick leak; he reiterated what he as governor sees as California's energy future, and he seemed to concede that bringing his vision to fruition, at least as far as the Kern County oil industry is concerned, is wrought with challenges. I'm guessing you'd agree with that part. In any case, he is the governor and he has established policies and priorities that will impact this region in a significant way. To ignore his visit to the site of that oil leak would have been negligent on our part.

Your contention that we've failed to publish the industry's side of this debate is equally absurd. I wonder if you've actually read the coverage you're complaining about.

Our articles over the past two months have quoted the Western States Petroleum Association, the California Independent Petroleum Association, prominent local oilman Chad Hathaway, Chevron Corp., the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, and others including state Sen. Shannon Grove, who also penned an Aug. 11 op-ed, "Kern County’s way of life is under attack."

This is indeed a "very significant" story, and not because of some oil leak. This is a pivotal time in Kern County's economic history, and we should be writing more about it, not less.

John Cox, who has been heading up our coverage, adds this: "If Denney were to read those stories, he would see we have taken a far more balanced approach than other news media covering the same series of events. We at the newspaper have made clear just what's at stake, and have pointed out as well that the leak has caused no environmental damage and that the problem is its symbolism and rallying-point significance."

I'm amused, once again, that our alleged journalistic shortcomings — "sensationalism" in this case — earn us that great all-purpose insult, "liberal." Any realistic assessment of "sensationalism" for the sake of selling newspapers begins and ends with the National Enquirer, whose now-former publisher, David Pecker, is an unabashed Trump supporter and morally bereft.

What we have here, Denney, is a classic case of shooting the messenger.


Reader: That was kind of a gloom-and-doom column in Sunday morning's paper ("Is the end of Kern oil production really upon us? Sure sounds like it," Aug. 11). It would make a simple-minded person want to sell everything they owned and head for greener pastures like Texas.

Maybe I am just a bit naive, but I find it really hard to believe that one, pretty green-behind-the-ears governor can arbitrarily pronounce the end to Kern County oil production. And also announce an abrupt end to the use of one of the most sought after, valuable and useful commodities the world has ever seen.

Didn’t we just spend billions of dollars and thousands of American lives fighting a war so that we could keep driving our oil-burning cars? And doesn’t California have more cars than any other state?

As you stated, our local oil fields are already the most regulated in the entire world. It would make more sense to me to shut down everybody else's oil production first. And it would make more sense to me if this governor would provide special funding to find a suitable replacement for oil before he shuts off the one thing that has the ability to completely destroy our entire nation’s economy, bringing it to a grinding stop. Not to mention the world's auto industry.

In my mind, first we need to find a suitable replacement. And then we need to let the open market decide if it makes good sense to make the switch. That's what living in a free economy is about. Right?

— Kyle Carter

Price: I agree that column was pretty gloom and doom, but California has been making it tough for Kern County oil for many years. The elimination of fossil fuels can’t happen overnight but influential people are trying to make it happen. I believe you have accurately characterized the enormity of the economic challenge we'd be looking at. We need a plan — and Newsom needs to be part of it, as I think he acknowledges.


Reader: I have been reading the articles about the efforts to shut down the oil industry in California. I simply had to write. I went to work for Shell Oil Co. in Oildale in 1962. I retired from the industry in Texas in 2001. I had a wonderful career as a certified professional landman.

While I am no expert, I am aware of the many, many items we use in our daily lives that are made using petroleum products. Even some of our fabrics contain petroleum products, as do certain plastics.

I am sure that the general public is unaware of how their lives would be impacted if the industry in California was shut down.

Perhaps there is someone in your reading audience who can provide a list of the consumer items that would be lost if, indeed, the industry was shut down.

— Karene R. Williams

Price: Great idea. Anyone?


Reader: I am a senior citizen widow and Bakersfield Californian subscriber for many years. I always anxiously read the paper from cover to cover. One might say it was the highlight of my day.

Unfortunately, I no longer enjoy reading the paper because of the broadsheet format. Each morning I seem to have a wrestling match with the paper. Ugh! It wins every time!

— Loretta Martin

Price: I've seen people artfully fold the broadsheet down to a more manageable size. Practice! You'll get used to it. We received many complaints a decade ago when we went to a tabloid format Monday through Friday. Change can be hard.


Reader: Almost five years ago I moved from Carson City, Nev., to this small town in the mountains halfway between Bakersfield and the Mojave Desert: Tehachapi. Needing a daily paper newspaper I subscribed to The Bakersfield Californian and happily discovered that you, sir, can write. Later I happened upon a column by one Leonard Pitts, of whom I had never heard.

I was struck by this guy ("Wow, he can write!") and wrote an admiring note to inform him of this — and received a response thanking me. "Well," I thought, "I'm glad I did that. He'll be encouraged." To my embarrassment I have learned that Leonard Pitts is a widely published voice of sanity and balanced judgment, articulating the truth weekly, here, in the midst of this "My Kevin" McCarthy bog. What Pitts says is loud and true, but that man can write! Loud and true are good but it's the writing that gives life.

As an unreconstructed FDR supporter who, for instance, took great interest in the argument that Social Security would be socialism (!), I consider it brave, in this bog, that The (courageous) Bakersfield Californian continues to publish the Pitts column. (I copy this to Mr. Pitts so as to demonstrate my admiration of all involved.)

Thinking-and-thankingly yours on all counts,

— Janet P. Riggs

Price: Let me add my gratitude as well. And I agree: Pitts has a graceful and compelling style.

For those readers who might take issue with Pitts' politics, I would recommend conservative columnist Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian and former George W. Bush speechwriter who wields common sense with uncommon authority.

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 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at soundoff@bakersfield.com. Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

(3) comments


“Liberal Media” or “Irresponsible Media”? Where you find one, you’ll find the other.

Jerry Todd

I don't know who said our seditious Governor was "ignorant." I give him credit for touring his realm occasionally, but his motives are so entangled with the climate change politics that he sees nothing outside those tax and fine producing revenue source. His actions on education, gender and morality leave us to believe he has only destruction to offer. He and his AG Becerra are clear on wanting to drive out the middle class. Even as you reported, U-Haul is upping the ante to make more of their moving rentals available. How many times are we hearing, "I'm getting out of this state?" It isn't coming from illegals, homeless or the Silicon Valley billionaires. Thank the supermajority Democrats for that.

As for Mr. Pitts, yes he can write. About 1 in 20 of his articles are uplifting. The rest IMO tear down. I tell him both ways. I've written him dozens of times, copying TBC every time (Not that it matters) I like this one from 2017:

So-called Mr. President: "Leonard Pitts is one of the MSM’s most reliable robots. He follows the DNC talking points and then some. However, this robot has no memory bank, just responding to the latest stimuli, learning nothing for the next task.

Case in point - blaming Trump for hanging all the nation’s evils on Obama. Match Trump pointing out actual corruption and failures of the “fast and furious” Administration with 8 years of blaming George Bush for everything from global warming to the chaos in the Middle East.

“Mr. So-Called President”, dear robot, was Constitutionally elected, has accomplished more in 4 months than Obama did in 8 years, all the while fighting the 95% of journalistic robots who vote Democrat, or Federal employees who vote 97% Democrat all backed by a media that has lost it’s WiFi connection with the American people. It’s job security for the non-producers.

Try to learn to be the loyal opposition - requires a belief in the Constitution - a rare trait. Try to see beauty instead of forcing a daily dose of editorial ugly on your dear readers.


"Perhaps there is someone in your reading audience who can provide a list of the consumer items that would be lost if, indeed, the industry was shut down."— Karene R. Williams

"Price: Great idea. Anyone?"

As a retired (never) & degree'd Industrial Designer (patents). . . and Naval Flight Officer USNR (Ret-never) . . . with a 64-year career (and hobbies) in almost all fields of design--heavy equipment, 'agri', pencil/ANSI 9000/analog/digital . . . pollution control . . . to aerospace . . . perhaps . . . no . . . DEFINITELY, . . . the real question IS" "What consumer items (PRODUCTS) currently around us in all our lives DO NOT NOW EMANATE EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM OUR OIL FIELDS . . . ?" Think not . . . ? Read this:



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