Posted by Curt on 5 January, 2017 at 12:16 pm. 22 comments already!


Heather Wilhelm:

If you regularly read the New York Times, you are probably familiar with one of my favorite journalistic genres: the “profile of exotic Middle Americans in their natural habitat” think piece. On New Year’s Eve, the Times ran a rather delightful example, set just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live: “Rodeo Offers a 90-M.P.H. Glimpse of Texans’ Truck Mania.”

Before you scoff, it’s actually an endearing piece, in which the author admits that he might be a terrible driver, confesses that he “smacked into a deer” on the way back to his hotel, and gamely notes, in a tone with a touch of Eddie Haskell, that he enjoyed his “stuntman-style” ride in a Ford Raptor “a whole bunch.”

Could this 875-word article have been replaced with “Hey, a lot of Texans really like trucks”? Perhaps. Would the New York Times display a similar wide-eyed innocence when profiling an acclaimed off-Broadway performance in which the main characters are an old sock and an immobile, day-old rotisserie chicken? Probably not.

Either way, it’s 2017, we’re mere days from the inauguration of you-know-who, and many of America’s journalists and other “elite” thinkers have pickups, guitars, guns, hillbilly music, and the like on their minds. After all, “Real America,” as some like to call that enigmatic swath of flyover country, voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump — and all things considered, coastal elites seem pretty darn touchy about it.

Witness the case of Decision Desk Daily’s John Ekdahl, who made the mistake of asking a fairly innocent question about pickup trucks on Tuesday night. It was a mistake because he asked his question on Twitter, that seething digital hive populated by various goofballs, a few ardent pun lovers, hordes of the easily enraged, most prominent American journalists, and Donald Trump:

Man oh man, were people irritated. The tweet went viral, boosted by dozens of huffy replies from journalists at various august institutions — places such as the Washington Post, Vox, and the New York Daily News — insisting that the question was completely irrelevant, vaguely offensive, or personally insulting. One automotive writer huffed that “plenty of heartlanders are opioid addicts” who shouldn’t be imitated in their life choices; others took the question as a jab at subway-taking city folk and a questioning of their “realness” as Americans.

Whatever your stance on pickup trucks, one thing is clear: The much-vaunted concept of “Real America,” particularly as it relates to the election of Donald Trump, remains a sore spot for many in the press. It’s been a minor obsession on both sides of the political aisle for a long, long time. What’s less often discussed, however, is this: For the left, the “Real America” stereotype has also become a comforting, well-worn crutch, and a great way to avoid looking in the mirror when it comes to assessing political loss.

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