When I look at the start publishing date of an article in the db I see a datetime stamp that is FOUR hours later than what is displayed in the backend for the article. The site's timezone is set to Los Angeles and I am in Eastern time. I don't see how to get a four hour difference between those except for a few hours when we're changing from Savings Time to Standard Time.
To confuse matters more, the datetime stamp I see when I run code to read the db, regardless of whether not I set the default timezone using date_default_timezone_set('America/Los_Angeles'); is the datetime in the database - not the time displayed in the backend.
For example, a datetime stamp displayed as 2018-10-31 22:11:29 in the backend is stored in the db as 2018-11-01 02:11:29 and comes in from a sql query as 2018-11-01 02:11:29.
This causes some issues under some circumstances when the code tries to display a string based on the publish date. It's too complicated to go into here, but I feel that I must be missing something about how to manage these date values.