[The Huffington Post] announced last week that it will send a team of journalists on a tour of middle America to “hear concerns from across the nation.” They’re calling it their “Listen to America Tour.” I’ll give them points for trying.
The tour, which will stop in 22 states over a period of seven weeks, is intended to discover “what we share as Americans, rather than what divides us.” The route largely avoids the coasts though it does veer into North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Heavily represented are southern, midwestern, and Rocky Mountain states.
Wow. Just wow.
Conservatives like to complain that the media are too elitist and too focused on a few coastal metropolises.
… Editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen strongly hinted that the purpose of the project is to meet and engage with Trump voters in order to learn what makes them tick. “For journalists, listening is more important than ever,” she wrote.
“Why? First, trust in the news media is at an all-time low. We want to address that head-on, and build trust in the work we do, by visiting communities that are largely ignored by national media. We’ll listen to what’s most important to them, and help tell those stories to the vast HuffPost audience. Second, political divisions between us seem starker than ever. But at HuffPost, we believe there’s still so much that unites us as citizens.”Clearly, the “Listen to America Tour” never would have happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected last November. This is Huffpost’s attempt at striking a conciliatory tone with a lot of people who feel alienated by the mainstream media. It’s as if they’re saying, “We hear you, flyover country.”
And that’s a good thing…right?
Sure it is. Yet I can’t imagine this particular leopard changing its spots. We’re talking about a media organization that, in the heat of a presidential campaign, added an editor’s note to the end of all of its Trump-related stories reading:
“Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”That was 2016. In 2017, Huffpost’s editor-in-chief wants her reporters to meet Trump’s base and to listen to their concerns. Why anyone would care about the opinions of a basket of deplorables is beyond me but perhaps Polgreen is sincere. After all, she has only been editor-in-chief since the grande dame Arianna Huffington stepped down in December. She’s even said that she wants to win over the Trump crowd. Could it be true?
I have my doubts. I can’t see Huffpost finding the pulse of non-coastal America because it has done such a poor job of it in the past. It’s not as if Huffpost and other big media outlets don’t write stories about flyover country. Sometimes they do, though it’s usually to ridicule, to wrinkle their noses at red state backwardness, or to stare with gaping mouths at things that strike them as weird.
… This is Huffpost after all, and its editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen is a lesbian with closely cropped hair who wears ties and button-down shirts. Judging by Huffpost’s content, I’d say that she’s basically a homosexual activist masquerading as a journalist, much like CNN’s Don Lemon or the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart.
… There will be more of these stories. I predict with a high degree of certainty that Huffpost’s planned bus tour will swoop into towns across America and seek out people to give voice to the narratives that the reporters themselves have already written in their minds. That’s not “listening.” In fact, it’s kind of the opposite of listening. It’s lecturing. Oh sure, they’ll find locals to speak for them. A little downhome twang gives a story a lot of authenticity.
… I think we can expect a number of what I call “It’s hard being X in Y” stories—that is, stories about members of allegedly marginalized groups who have suffered the misfortune of finding themselves in places that don’t fully accept them.
… These stories are ubiquitous in the media, so common in fact that they’ve become formulaic—it’s hard being “gay” in the Utah, it’s hard being an atheist in the Bible Belt, it’s hard being a broadminded liberal in a narrowminded small town, etc. I keep waiting for stories about evangelical Christians facing prejudice in Boston or Trump supporters being physically attacked in California but mainstream reporters never seem interested in those. These “It’s hard being X in Y” stories serve as recurring reminders of who ranks where on the victim hierarchy. Some groups—Christians, white people, conservatives—don’t rank anywhere. They aren’t allowed to.
… Truth be told, I don’t really want Huffpost telling stories from middle America; not if they’re going to filter them through their own biases. If they’re just going to blow into town long enough to shame a local church for its teaching on homosexuality, to support and defend lawbreaking illegal aliens, or to poke fun at people who don’t believe in Darwinian evolution, I would prefer that they just stay home. And no, it doesn’t matter if they throw in a few stories about out-of-work coal miners to give the appearance of balance.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Why anyone would care about the opinions of a basket of deplorables is beyond me; Clearly, the Huffpost's “Listen to America Tour” never would have happened had Hillary Clinton been elected
Give the mainstream media points for trying, notes Benny Huang — with perhaps a soupçon of sarcasm.