Friday, May 11, 2007

The press and the salt of the earth

I have had a fun time watching this debate play out over the past couple of days. Glenn Greenwald has been taking David Broder (and the Washington press corps) to task for pretending to believe that Broder represents 'the people'. Joe Klein, from Time magazine, has consequently come to the defense of Broder and the Beltway press for what he perceives as honest journalism.

On the whole, Greenwald is definitely on the right side of the issue:

My point is that Beltway pundits are far too insulated and detached from the people whom they baselessly claim to represent, not that leaving the Beltway is bad. The fact that it is supposed to be some sort of commendable or distinguishing attribute that Broder goes on field trips to America in order to study how the "ordinary people" think -- much the way a zoologist travels to the jungle to observe the behavior of different species -- illustrates that point.

Yet, I think he misses out on the larger problem, which Digby articulates quite well. The problem with Broder's thinking is that he has mythologized the average American. He, and the journalists/pundits that follow him, have created an idea of America that just doesn't exist. The Beltway press likes to believe that once you escape the confines of city-life you will find a land of hearty hairy chested church goers. These mythical Americans possess unfailing moral compasses and a sophisticated cynicism of government.

As someone who has spent the majority of their time living in the communities Broder likes to dream about, I can say without hesitation that he is 100% wrong. Don't get me wrong, I love where I came from, but there is definitely a darker side to these 'salt-of-the-earth' working-class communities. My own experience has been that these places are shockingly racist, sexist and openly hostile to 'others'. There may be ham and bean church suppers, but at the same time, there are far too many stories about people who had to leave town because they dared to express their sexual orientation openly.

Yet Broder and his ilk, don't want to deal with this inconvenient reality. He would like to continue with the charade that there is a magical place where average Americans live. As such, we (the 'actual' average Americans) will continue to suffer the consequences of a modern punditry obsessed with capturing the pretend thoughts of fairy-tale Americans.

1 comment:

Pork Rinds said...

Now that's how you write a blog post. You had me at "salt of the earth" Broca.