Mainstream Media in the Age of trump


#1226

Uh… yeah, maybe don’t do home invasions and people might give a percentage of a fuck about how scared you were. I swear being the guy that writes headlines these days must be what you do with people who are connected and you just can’t fire.


#1227

That dude way have done the right thing by defending himself, but when the suspects fled he very much did the wrong thing. Very glad no innocents were hurt.


#1228

I’m sorry, I seem to have wandered into the Local News Story From Any Time In The USA thread by accident.


#1229

What did he do? I didn’t see any reference to anything he did after they fled.


#1230

He followed them out onto the street and continued firing, and the kept firing in the street at their car as they drove away.


#1231

Ah, that must have been in one of the videos. I didn’t see that in the text of the article.


#1232

The Woman Who Covered Cletus

A woman in an airport checked her e-mail and gave a small sigh of contentment.

“It’ll run Sunday, on the main page, in a featured spot.”

Stephanie McCrummen, a Washington Post reporter, had just learned when her new 3500-word story would run. The piece was a portrait of Joe Davidson, a Trump supporter from Cleveland, Mississippi. McCrummen took a good deal of time and effort in crafting her portrayal of Joe. She was particularly proud of the tone: skeptical, but not challenging; self-aware, but not critical; and most importantly, full of the eagerly-volunteered details that support Joe’s self-image of himself as a decent guy.

“People see someone like Joe at all the Trump rallies and say, ‘Well, he’s giving his vocal, unequivocal, unrestrained support to a racist asshole, so he must be a racist asshole too,’” said McCrummen as she browsed her phone while waiting for the airline to call her flight. “They don’t realize that Joe sometimes does things like take his sick wife to the doctor, or occasionally hold the door open for the elderly. That really makes you think.”

This is not the first, or even the tenth, time a major newspaper has run a lengthy portrait of an unremarkable Trump supporter. Indeed, the Internet has already given this genre a name - the “Cletus safari,” so-called because of the yokel character featured on The Simpsons.

Cletus safari stories are notable for the sheer amount of verbiage and mundane detail they expend on making ordinary people seem multifaceted, more important than those who voted for the opposing party, and definitely not as racist as that viral video made them look.

The movement has many critics. One anonymous commentator on an obscure message board called such stories “insipid and lazy,” “a waste of valuable space that could be devoted to actual investigative journalism,” and “effectively normalizing hate by pretending that the fact hatemongers tie their shoes too counts as insight,” adding that “If these reporters were active during the 1930s they would have spent all their time writing stories about how Hitler was kind to his dogs.”

MCrummen is shocked and perplexed by such remarks. “I don’t see myself in that. I mean, I went to journalism school, I used to report overseas, I know what news is. And besides, Hitler’s dogs were probably adorable. I’m sure the public was dying to know more about them.”

MCrummen has no intention of changing her coverage.

“Why shouldn’t every single Trump supporter get feature coverage on the front of one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers? Each and every one of these people has an ever-so-slightly different story to tell. I’m going to tell them all.”

“People want to know how something like Trump could possibly come about. I like to think that when they see my articles big and bold and featured on the front page, they understand just how it happened.”


#1233

MCrummen is shocked and perplexed by such remarks. “I don’t see myself in that. I mean, I went to journalism school, I used to report overseas, I know what news is. And besides, Hitler’s dogs were probably adorable. I’m sure the public was dying to know more about them.”

Is this the Onion?

Normalisation of hate is one of the driving factors in our now rapid descent into fascism.


#1234

This is so true, and it’s incredibly frustrating watching it happen in real time. It’s why watching people argue that Democrats should fund the GOP monument to hate (aka “Wall”) is just deflating. “But we get something in return!”

As for McCrummen, why are the WaPo editors even letting her run her stupid ass stories? Oh, he takes his sick wife to the hospital? Really? That’s the threshold for being a nice person? Probably doesn’t kick his dog either, trump voters are just so misunderstood! F’n christ. Read any social media post by a trump supporter and it becomes completely mystifying that anyone would want to take them seriously.


#1235

It’s why watching people argue that Democrats should fund the GOP monument to hate (aka “Wall”) is just deflating. “But we get something in return!”

If only we had historical precedent demonstrating that appeasement doesn’t work.


#1236

If you read the whole article (it’s quite long), it actually ends up being amazingly critical of the guy… it just rolls the details out slowly and starts to show things that contradict his world-view.

In the beginning of the article you hear about how he’s a manager at a funeral home; how he grew up on a small farm; how he grew up with minorities as friends; how he helped raise money for a beloved black coach at his school; how he was effectively raised by a black woman.

But the later part of the article pretty much deconstructs all that. He’s a manager at a funeral home because he’s bored – he has a trust fund and doesn’t actually have to work at all. His “small farm” was massive, and the source of his family money. The counties that he lives in were at the epicenter of the violence propelling the Civil Rights movement (e,g, the Emmett Till case), but he was insulated from all of it… his “black friends” apparently never mentioned that anything was wrong. The coach whose headstone he raised money for had died penniless and bankrupt from massive medical bills, derided by many in the black community as an Uncle Tom. The black woman who “raised” him was of course a family servant who had little choice in the matter.

By the time you finish, it’s pretty clear that the subject of the article is utterly clueless about the world he lives in and the people around him. He’s had his life handed to him on a silver platter, was shielded from all the shit happening to the world around him, and he doesn’t understand why anyone could think ill of him.


#1237

You’d think that if people learned anything this past couple of years, it’s that nuance and irony are wasted on the American public.


#1238

I’d venture to say nuance and irony are lost on almost everyone in an age if instant gratification and always on connections, but I realise I’m losing nuance and it is ironic that I write this…using a mobile phone.


#1239

Guilty of not reading any of it since I’ve no interest in the world view of trump supporters, but mea culpa.


#1240

No, the whole thing is me rolling my eyes at the fact we’re still getting these stories more than two years after the election. The actual article is in the link.

Tin_Wisdom summed up the WaPo article admirably. The author is no doubt glowing with pride at how she constructed a critique delivered so subtly that the subject probably didn’t notice the criticism was there. (And from a pure style-divorced-from-content standpoint she did indeed do a good job.)

The problem is, a critique so subtle you need to read a 3500 word article twice to get it won’t come across as a critique at all to 90% of readers. And then there’s the sheer number and size of these articles. The author no doubt thinks she’s condemning old white male privilege, but the fact that NYT, WaPo, etc. have been running massive pieces virtually every week that treat rando white Trump voters as if their every fart is worth documenting is as perfect an example of old white male privilege as there could be.


#1241

I do love the term “Cletus Safari”; I had never heard that before but it’s definitely my term-of-the-month for January.


#1242

That’s rather good. I fell for it.


#1243

More like HumanTonion, amirite?

Seriously though, I really enjoyed reading that @HumanTon.


#1244

The NY Times is so committed to the “both sides” narrative that they printed this in an article about the guilty plea of a white supremacist murderer.

Stop supporting this.


#1245

I’m not sure what you find objectionable in that quote. They point out a rise in hate crimes, and associate it with Trump’s divisive rhetoric. What’s the failure here?