This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions may be edited for space and clarity.
Price: This is my final Sound Off column. I’m switching roles at The Californian, and one of the trade-offs is that I turn over this weekly column to colleague Christine Bedell, who will coordinate what we envision will be a collaborative effort involving several editors. I may contribute from time to time.
I’ll turn my focus to community engagement. That means a weekly column, The Californian’s Opinion section and, at some point, more community events.
Keep writing to Sound Off. It keeps us on our toes around here.
Reader: Each and every day in this newspaper is a cartoon making fun of President Trump. I don’t remember any cartoons making fun of President Obama. Is it because he was black and you were afraid of possibly being called “racist” if you did? Did you call out Mr. Obama when he said “you can keep your doctor” when he was discussing Obamacare? Did you call out Nancy Pelosi when she stated that we could read the Obamacare plan AFTER it was passed! An outrageous statement!
Trump was elected by people who grew sick and tired of people who said they would work for us, but once they were elected basically gave us the finger.
President Trump is trying to accomplish what is best for America and Americans and should be praised for it instead of condemned for it.
— Anne Grogan
Price: Get used to political cartoons lampooning Donald Trump for anything and everything. He is the president of the United States, which means there’s a target right in the middle of his chest that satirists of all stripes — political cartoonists chief among them — will be taking aim at.
If you don’t recall seeing any unflattering caricatures of Obama in The Californian, you have a very short memory. Trump, Hillary Clinton and the many candidates who sought the Republican and Democratic nominations in 2016 dominated cartoonists’ imaginations this past year, but the vault of Obama cartoons going back eight years, positive and negative, is huge.
Interesting you should suggest we’re afraid of publishing cartoons that might depict Obama in ways that could seem racist. Political cartoonists across the country wrestled with that very issue when he was first elected.
Ted Rall, speaking for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists in February 2009, conceded that “without a doubt, people are stepping more gingerly. People are tiptoeing their way through this.”
Apparently they finally got comfortable with it.
As I wrote in January 2012: “Barack Obama’s lips and ears seemed to grow in contrast to past years, as cartoonists became more comfortable with the land mine-rich challenge of portraying a black president without crossing certain lines. They crossed them anyway.”
Reader: I just can’t believe it. First your leftist rag trashes President Trump for months. Now you are trashing Kevin McCarthy. Anyone who was not an idiot would realize that Kevin is probably working 18 hours a day in D.C. helping other legislators fix the mess Obama made.
With the new administration only in office for three weeks he has more important things to do than come home to argue with the liberal hit groups that have been hanging out at his office.
I have taken your paper for more than 50 years but now I sure wish I had an alternative newspaper available. Lois Henry is the only bright spot in your paper. The rest of your staff reminds me of the “Dilbert” comic strip. By going so far left you are not serving the majority of the community.
— Alvin Tullis
Price: I guess you’re referring to our Jan. 28 story, “Demonstrators keep the heat on McCarthy.”
I’m not sure how a responsible news organization ignores a protest by scores of people who have come from Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere to march to the House majority leader’s office with a very topical message — preserving Medicare and Medicaid, which many fear could be at risk as Congress weighs the ACA’s possible repeal.
Does simply reporting events like that march mean we’re “going left”?
It might if we had been ignoring McCarthy’s position on the issue. We keep asking about it, and the best his office has done is refer us to the op-ed he wrote for The Californian last month. McCarthy wrote that the number of people insured under the ACA means little “when the quality of the insurance is so dismal.”
Your choice of “Dilbert” as an example of — what? Liberalness? Dysfunction? is curious because the strip’s author, Scott Adams, was a hardcore Trump supporter in the run-up to last November’s election.
Reader: Isn’t that amazing?
In a county where Donald Trump received 129,584 votes, or 53.07 percent of the votes cast for President, and Hillary Clinton received 98,689, or 40.42 percent, The Californian expects us to believe that nine out of 12 published letters (in “Dear Kevin,” Feb. 9) being negative toward Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump is representative of what they truly received.
I wasn’t a Trump supporter but I do expect a modicum of impartiality and a lack of bias from media outlets. With The Californian, we get neither.
— Frank Moore
Price: Well, believe it. We received exactly three pro-Trump/pro-McCarthy letters and printed them all. People are far more likely to complain than praise, as the content of this column illustrates regularly. That’s just human nature.
Readers with positive or encouraging messages for Trump — specific observations would be nice — are especially encouraged to write.
Reader: I know that TBC is always taking flack from both sides about being biased. However, for the consistent reader it is very well balanced. If one requires proof, the recent exchange in Community Voices between Sheldon Helms (“Biological or social? Scientific evidence is clear,” Jan. 23) and myself (“Don’t be ignorant about Christian compassion,” Feb. 7) is substantial evidence. Thank you for your even-handedness. May it ever be so.
— Tim Stormont
Reader: Shame on you, Bakersfield Californian, for dredging up more inappropriate “news” about Jeff Tkac’s death (“Police reports shed new light on Councilman Jeff Tkac’s suicide”). Your article in the Feb. 1 paper was not news, it was gossip, hurtful, private, and totally inappropriate to publish.
Where do you think that this poor family wants or needs the readers of your newspaper to know the intimate details of the day Mr. Tkac died?
Unless your publisher, Ginger Moorhouse, is willing to start publishing her family’s dirty laundry, I would suggest that you stop taking advantage of a family’s tragedy in order to sell newspapers! This article made me sick, and I hope that the children never have opportunity to read it.
— Donna Chaffee
Price: Well, it made me sick too. Because of what happened, not because we published some details (but certainly not all the details) from the investigative reports. In the absence of factual information, people will talk — and they did. Jason Kotowski’s story surely put some of the rumors to rest. You call that story “gossip” but it was the exact opposite — a gossip squelcher.
One day Jeff Tkac’s children may in fact want to read news reports about the day their father died. Or they may not. But I’ve seen it happen. I have personally helped grown children locate newspaper accounts of life-changing family tragedies. I guess it provides some closure.
As for Ms. Moorhouse, in 2002-03 she was well aware that The Californian was preparing to publish some rather scandalous information about a family member. I know, because I was the reporter.
That year, thanks in part to her understanding and appreciation of the situation, she was named Editor & Publisher’s Publisher of the Year and The Californian was the recipient of the University of Oregon’s Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.
I think we’ve passed the dirty laundry test.
Reader: A friendly correction: In your editorial “McCarthy needs to lead at home, too,” you first correctly call him “the second most powerful man in the House of Representatives.” Later, you incorrectly elevate his stature to “the second most powerful man in Congress.” Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader in the Senate (that other house in Congress), would be among the first to disagree with that second reference.
— David Lyman
Price: You’re right. We often think of Congress and the House as synonymous, but they’re not. As a former colleague notes, however, given that neither McConnell nor House Speaker Paul Ryan seem to have the access and influence of McCarthy, maybe he’s the most powerful.
Reader: Neither Herb Benham nor Richard Beene, in their tributes to Bryan Kelly, referred to Michael Izquierdo as his husband. I made Herb aware after his column was published in case he did not know they were more than partners; Richard I know was aware but it must have slipped his mind. I performed their marriage ceremony on Oct. 6, 2008, and took the license to the Hall of Records myself to be recorded. It was a joyous day indeed, of huge significance, and I think it should be noted as such. Yes, they were partners, but so much more: to legally marry was a hard-won right and the word husband carries great meaning.
— Susan Reep
Price: I agree. We’re past the point where people are shocked by the idea of a man having a husband. Or at least getting to that point. If nothing else, using the correct, specific word negates any confusion over the possibility that theirs was simply a business partnership.
Reader: I wanted to know if you’ve ever watched the comedy team of “Key & Peele,” starring Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. One of their most popular skits is President Obama’s anger translator. As the president addresses the nation, his anger translator, named Luther, says what the president is actually thinking.
As I read your responses to your readers, I’ve often wondered what you are really thinking at times. Especially when your readers misquote your articles, when all they have to do is to re-read your column prior to responding to it.
At any rate, I know this would be impossible for you to do in this friendly community newspaper. But I would sure love to read your true thoughts as you respond to those readers. Especially when they accuse you of leaning either too far to the right or left. I find them equally based.
By the way, I just renewed my six-month subscription last week.
Keep Luther coming, he’s getting close to unleashing his fury, lol. A big fan,
— Deacon Williams
Price: My Luther won’t be showing up in Sound Off, which is getting a new host, but I’ll be writing at least one column a week going forward. That is a better venue for my inner Luther to express himself anyway.
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