Robert Price

Friday, May 09 2014 11:45 AM

SOUND OFF: Search for killers differs from search for deception

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    Robert Price is The Californian's executive editor. Email him at rprice@bakersfield.com.

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By Robert Price

Reader: In the May 5 Bakersfield Californian, buried at the bottom of page 18, in the Nation section, were two brief articles that, in my opinion, should have received a little more visible coverage. They certainly received more coverage when they were originally considered news.

Headline 1: "Gay bishop divorce." The first openly gay Episcopal bishop and his partner of 25 years are divorcing. This marriage was an event that ripped the Episcopal Church apart in 2003. Hundreds of parishes left the umbrella of the Episcopal Church and formed a more conservative branch. Some even left the church for good. People were hurt. Christianity was attacked by those who believe that God intended marriage to be for both male and female same-sex couples. The gay community was literally dancing in the street. Now the famous bishop is divorcing his "husband." Think of all the emotional damage this man and his "husband" did to his congregants across America, and to each other and their families. Divorce is sad business. If we have to face the fact that a husband can have a husband and a wife can have a wife, we have to face the fact that divorce can creep into these relationships, too. I doubt the bishop gave much thought to that when he married his husband.

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Headline 2: "Benghazi attack back at the center of debate." For those who think this terrorist attack should be swept under the rug, this might be bad news. It will be addressed and the American people, led by Republicans and maybe a few brave Democrats, will have the opportunity to find out what happened.

... The families of those brave men who died that awful day may somehow be comforted just a little by knowing what the government did or didn't do to keep their loved ones safe. It seems absurd that anyone would think the four Americans who were murdered in a terrorist attack are not worth the effort that Republican leadership is hoping to take to find and punish their killers.

...President Obama, himself, said he would "do everything in my power to hunt down these terrorists." Two years later, is anyone looking? ... There is no reason not to further investigate the Benghazi attack and the murder of four Americans. It must be done. Someone knows something and someone isn't talking ... yet.

The Episcopal church and the bishop's divorce? I am happy to leave that to God. He will never let His people down.

-- Caroline O. Reid

Price: You say these stories received more coverage when they were originally considered news than they did in Monday's paper? Well, I would hope so.

The promotion of a gay clergyman to the post of bishop and the aftermath of that controversial and historic event -- a devastating chasm within one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the U.S. -- is bigger news than the bishop's divorce 10 years later.

And the murder of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, is most definitely bigger news than the ongoing debate about a flurry of government emails, however deceptive their intent might have been or their potential impact on the political landscape.

First, to respond to your comments on Benghazi: The May 5 story you suggest we underplayed is substantially different from the issue you say deserves more attention. Our May 5 story, from The Washington Post, was about the partisan sparring over the administration's crafting of post-attack talking points. But the story you say you'd like to see is about the four Americans who were slain during the September 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy and the effort "to find and punish their killers." Two different things.

You seem to suggest that President Obama isn't doing enough to find the killers. Maybe so. But, the pure, objective quest for justice aside, it would do him and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a world of political good to see some arrests, so it's hard to imagine they've purposely, or even accidentally, ignored the manhunt.

The federal government filed criminal charges against Benghazi militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala and several others last year in New York. Now it's up to the CIA to find them and bring them in. That's a story I'd like to read, too. But we played that May 5 story exactly where we should have played it: at the bottom of page 18. We'll play subsequent stories on the newly formed House Benghazi panel in a similar way, unless and until something big comes from the inquiry. But when and if we see arrests, count on page 1.

As for the gay clergy story, you write as if Bishop Gene Robinson, and indeed all same-sex couples, have no idea about the potential pitfalls and heartbreaks of marriage. I'd say their rose-colored blinders are no different than those worn by straight couples. Going in, almost everyone has starry-eyed visions of eternal bliss, don't they?

Robinson is quoted as saying in the story you cite, "... Gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that affect marriages between heterosexual couples." I actually disagree with him: Generally speaking, same-sex couples are probably subject to more complications and hardships, such as uncertain and inconsistent legal status and lack of acceptance by family and church. Think those things aren't strains on a marriage? And remember, gay and lesbian couples (most of them anyway) grew up in the same America that has 24,000 divorces per day, so broken marriage should not be a novel concept to any of us, gay or straight. I think we played this story about right, too.

***

Reader: Robert! It surprised me some that The Californian would print such garbage about global warming ("Global warming in the U.S.: We're feeling it," May 7, page 1). This is all political (liberal politics). I'll bet you dollars to donuts that that female professor in Texas is a full-blown Democratic liberal. This is and has been for years a farce for political reasons. Most of the so-called evidence was all made up to try to fool people into going along with the gross stupidity of the Democratic Party to control people into going along with their idiotic thinking. Being an intelligent person, I think you are fully aware of all this. Is your job really worth all the crapola and idiocy you have to put up with?

-- Lynn Anderson

Price: The government's newest national assessment of climate change was an important story, covered prominently by every major newspaper and news network in the country. A ton of minor ones, too.

The story comes on the heels of last year's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization comprising the world's top climate scientists. That group declared with 95 percent certainty that human activity, i.e., the burning of fossil fuels, is a chief cause of global warming. NASA and the national science academies of the G8 nations, plus those of Brazil, China, India and 23 other countries, have made formal declarations attesting to humans' role in climate change.

That might seem like "gross stupidity" to you, but it's widespread and thoroughly researched stupidity. Either way, it belonged right there where we put it: on page 1. Whether to believe in anthropogenic climate change or not, it's part of the national debate and will be for a long time.

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Reader: Congrats on your excellent articles in today's (May 4) paper! I enjoyed reading the article by John Cox on the fracking debate at St. Paul's. I am dismayed that it is the largest gathering of people in Kern County to discuss the issue, but pleased it was civil discourse.

I was thrilled to read the article about apartheid in Israel ("Apartheid is a reality in the West Bank," Glenn E. Robinson, Sunday Forum). I have found U.S. papers staunchly pro-Israel and after a visit to that country found myself sympathetic to the Palestinian majority that is systematically excluded.

Then we have Lois Henry's discussion of water use by Chevron and subsequent sale of said water to local farmers ("Chevron also pumps vital second commodity: water").

Fascinating. Great paper today!

-- Kathy Harlan

Price: Thanks Kathy. We try.

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Reader: Congratulations on the number of (California Newspaper Publishers Association) awards recently won by your team. They are certainly well-deserved. Of course, there are other authors who deserve recognition, too.

Please know I thoroughly enjoyed this past Saturday's (May 3) Eye Street edition. Nick Strobel is someone I have begun reading and who actually has me looking at the stars. Valerie Schultz was enjoyable as she brought back fond memories of my wife's and my first date. Richard Shiell always has excellent gardening advice and suggestions, and I've utilized them to great success.

The piece I always read first each Saturday is Sherry Davis' article. Her last effort brought to mind my dog, Bear, with whom I shared a pronounced attachment for more than 15 years. He was my "bud," always ready for a car ride, play day, extended walk, or a comfortable sit in my lap. As her opening stated, Bear had an "unwavering devotion to one so hopelessly flawed." For this one reason I'll never forget Bear!

Again, best wishes and continued success for all your writers. They consistently continue to please.

-- Gene M. Bonas

Price: Jennifer Self, our Lifestyles editor, deserves a lot of the credit for that, as does assistant editor Stefani Dias. They recruited and continue to edit those writers. And, the arts and entertainment coverage Jennifer oversees placed second in last week's CNPA contest. We compete in a circulation category that, to a great extent, pits us against much larger-circulation newspapers, which typically have more resources.

Executive Editor Robert Price and The Californian welcome your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won't be published.

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