Sunday, December 17, 2017

All News is Fake News? A WTF Story from the Wall Street Journal

Merle Haggard allegedly wrote this song while he and his band were smoking dope on the band bus, driving down the Interstate by Muskogee, Oklahoma.  One band member remarked, "I bet they don't smoke marijuana on Muskogee" and the rest was history.  Sadly, not many recognized it as parody, and the far-right took it on as an anthem.
We don't make a party out of lovin
'We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do
A recent story in the Wall Street Journal has me scratching my head.   I just couldn't figure out what the point of the story was, until the last paragraphs of the article.  But then again, I knew going into this where the story might go. You see, today, every media outlet is basically fake news. None are objective, but all have a narrative to sell.

The Washington Post, for example, is owned by Jeff Bezos, and is a liberal paper that publishes a lot of articles about how keen Amazon is.  By the way, the other day, I mentioned how things are often cheaper on eBay than Amazon.  I ordered a new rechargeable cordless drill on eBay.  It was processed and packed by Amazon, shipped through UPS and delivered by the United States Postal Service.  It seems the boundaries between these companies are blurring these days.  But I digress.

The New York Times is, well, just off-the-wall these days.  Far, far left, it specializes in panicky articles about Trump - gossipy pieces about how he threw tantrums or who is going to be fired this week - like reporting on an episode of The Apprentice.  Real substance is lacking.

The Wall Street Journal, like Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and is right-leaning - well more than just leaning of course.   So you know what to expect from them as well - smirky articles that blame Clinton (either one) or Obama for anything that has gone wrong in America.

This latest article, however, gives me pause.  It is about a young woman, Cathy Cronkhite, who leaves her small town in Indiana to seek fame and fortune in California.   In a sort of Road-to-Damascus or maybe Wizard-of-Oz kind of drama, she realizes that there's "no place like home" and that the people in "San Francisco" are mocking her small-town upbringing.   So she returns home, even though the locals there are mad at her for leaving.

The "moral" of this story is curious.  Never leave home?  People who live in San Francisco are evil?  What?   I find it odd that the entire story judges the values of every resident of the State of California based on some comments by jerks in a bar.   One home-town resident opines that he has been working "12-15 hours a day" to "feed all those jerks in their coffee bars" on the coast.  Hmmmm.... he should check his math on that - California is one of the largest agricultural States in the nation.   If anything, they feed us, not vice-versa.

And of course, "Red States" get back in Federal benefits more than they pay in, in taxes, while "Blue States" are vice-versa.  Indiana isn't feeding the world - quite the contrary!

But I digress, again.

It struck me that this "news story" wasn't really news, but just another attempt at division - pitting the rural Midwest against the coasts.

In my previous story about Guilt Politics, I received a number of complaints from readers that I just didn't get it.  Hillary didn't stand for schoolmarmish prudery!   And of course she didn't - she had to put up with Bill, remember?   The point is, the opposition painted her as such - a woman (boo! hiss!) would would enact regulations and laws that would take away your guns and prevent you from "rolling coal" with your belligerent truck.  Take that, you latte-sipping Prius drivers from San Francisco!  (In politics today, words like San Francisco are like coded dog-whistles.)

This is a narrative that sold well in places like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, et al.  These are places where young white men feel left out, where flying the confederate flag isn't viewed as ironic (or idiotic) as you drive by the Civil War memorial in the center of your town (commemorating the losses of the North).

This is the demographic that Trump taps into, and tapped into, to win the electoral college in 2016.  And this is the reason behind the article in the Wall Street Journal - to paint people on the coasts as out-of-touch with "reality" and also being condescending to cultural values of "country folks."

Of course, the story did mention how many people in her small home town with "family values" were overdosing on opiates.   At least they didn't gloss over that.

But the story really isn't news - in fact, nothing in the story is newsworthy at all.   An obscure individual returns to their small home town after striking out in the big city.  Yet it was at the top of the U.S. news page on the MSN news app this morning.

This isn't news.   It's fake news.

UPDATE:  The more I think of this story, the more it disturbs me as being inauthentic and basically class-warfare bait. Rural people are the first to engage in self-depreciating humor. I was fortunate enough to see Minne Pearl at the Grand Ole Opry before she passed.   How-Dee!  This idea that country folks take themselves so deadly serious, just doesn't ring true.  Rednecks are the first to make fun of rednecks.

Also, the idea that "those people in San Francisco" don't know what a Cracker Barrel is, is well, ludicrous.   People do travel, you know!  (and there are several Cracker Barrels in the State, including two in nearby Sacramento).

UPDATE:  A reader writes that they don't have Cracker Barrel in California - although one is opening up soon in the State.   They do have In-and-Out burger, though.   We don't have In-and-Out burger on the East Coast, but I have heard of it.  Because I've been to Utah.

UPDATE:  According to the Cracker Barrel website, there are at least nine locations in the State.  What's the point?  Just class warfare.

The more I think about this story, the more appalled I am.  The moral of the story seems to be, "never leave your hometown" which could be crippling advice.  The other narrative is that the only two choices are some depressed town in the Midwest or the most expensive city to live in, in the United States.   No in-between!

This is a class-warfare story, plain and simple, pitting the "honest decent folks" of the Midwest against those latte-sipping bastards on the coasts.   Shame on the Wall Street Journal.  And what the fuck does this story have to do with Wall Street?  Or anything for that matter.   Just another mouthpiece for Trumpism.