[Above: From our archives, Salena Zito normalizes Trump voters, July 2017.]
As we have discussed in the lit'rary criticism portion of this little blog in the middle of Middle America, the Beltway media's hot new genre is something I call Magic Ruralism.
Magic Ruralism (tm) noun: a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of political fantasy.
...just as Thrilling Detective and Detective Fiction Weekly were in the business of cranking out hard-boiled crime genre fiction for the titillation of their readers, so have The New York Times and the Washington Post gone into the business of cranking out True Tales Of Rust-Belt Trump Murricans! for the titillation of their readers.
Spoiler: They went with the second thingie. Big time. Which brings us to the case of Ms. Salena Zito. From The Twitter, more than a year ago...
it's the next 'say something nice about trump' column
— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) May 10, 2017
I'm still here.
On my porch.
In the middle of Middle America.
Whittling & waiting for the NYT Zeitgeist Action Van to pull up.
— driftglass (@Mr_Electrico) May 10, 2017
Many, many times.
— driftglass (@Mr_Electrico) May 10, 2017
Salena might drop by for coffee and pie.
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) May 10, 2017
You see, over here on the dive-bar side of the internet, Ms. Zito has already been famous for quite some time for her proficiency at summoning just the right Beltway-folk-tale-friendly quotes from just the right sorts of hard-workin', God-fearin', swing-votin', salt of the Earth Americans at just the right time.
Her uncanny knack for conjuring the perfect profile of Middle America to make the Beltway media's ganglia twitch has been really something to see. On par with Tom Friedman's heroic ability to locate a cabdriver in Bangalore on his drive back to the airport who will say exactly what Mr. Friedman needs him to say to write off his travel expenses and button up his column, or Ron Fournier's superhuman capacity for turning every Republican atrocity into a sermon on Both Siderism.
In other words, this shit is both projectile-vomit-inducing and fall-down-and-roll-around hilarious to anyone who actually lives out here in the Real World, but to Prince Prospero and his courtiers as they revel inside their castle safely protected from the Red Death raging outside, these tall tales of life beyond the drawbridge are taken as Very Serious Gospel and remunerated as such.
From the Huffington Post today:
Take Salena Zito Neither Seriously Nor Literally On Trump Voters
Is the populist whisperer of Trump Country full of crap?
You might not know who Salena Zito is off the top of your head...
Actually, I do.
Most of us out here in the Liberal trenches do.
But please continue.
...but you’re almost certainly familiar with her work. She writes in publications such as the New York Post and the Washington Examiner about such varied topics as “Why Democrats in Western Pennsylvania Are Voting Trump,” “Why the Generation After Millennials Will Vote Republican” and “Why the Rust Belt Just Gave Donald Trump a Hero’s Welcome.” Or maybe you read her September 2016 piece in The Atlantic in which she famously pointed out that Donald Trump supporters took the candidate seriously, not literally, while the national press did the reverse.
The observation hasn’t held up well — Trump has literally done what he literally said he would do — but analytical rigor wasn’t really the point. This was about excusing Trump voters, part of the media’s excruciating and relentless project to understand the mind of the Trumper without ever talking about racism. Zito was more than happy to provide the liberal world with countless portraits of rational, eloquent, Democratic-curious Trump voters who are always just this close to going blue. She even got a book deal and a Harvard teaching fellowship out of it.
And you know where this is going, right?
Same HuffPo article, next sentence.
Unfortunately, as people have been pointing out with increasing frequency, a lot of it appears to be bullshit.
There follows a long and fairly detailed vivisection of Ms. Zito's body of work, most of which has been publicly available (and shouted from our Libtard rooftops) for a couple of years now and which, in a Better Universe, would see Mr. Zito handed her walking papers by whoever is underwriting her persiflage.
But will that actually happen?
Probably not. But even if it does, it won't matter, because another Saleno Zito -- or five -- will be along one minute later to take her place. Because writers don't invent markets. If they did, this Liberal blogger would have long ago socked away enough dough buy a sweet little Route 66 motel and convert it into a fully-funded artist and writer colony. No, paying markets remain paying markets only so as long as there are enough people with enough money to make it viable for writers to cast their nets into those waters.
And at this moment, America's corporate media has almost singlehandedly invented a brand-new, paying market for thrilling tales of economic anxious swing voters and recent party switchers who eke out a noble but hardscrabble life on the wild frontier.
Honestly, (he said, repeating himself because that's what I get to do on my own blog) if I'd known the Beltway media was going to invent an entire Magic Ruralism (tm) genre of hair-raising True Tales From Trump Country for the titillation of an elite readership who live a million social miles distance from the Republican madness running amok in my back yard, as a freelance writer who lives perpetually on the edge of financial ruin I would have positioned myself better.
I'd have gotten myself an agent and, in my Carhart jacket and plumber's jeans from Big "R", taken the New York writer's scene by storm as a savage from the brooding, bitter Interior.
I'd have ensorcelling the Very Serious People With Very Large Checkbooks with tales of Midwestern pity and terror gleaned from eating at D&J Cafe, getting shorn at The Hair of the Dog barbershop and over beers at Boone's Saloon.
Hell, at no additional charge I'd have happily pissed in New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger's fireplace to make my legend complete.
crossposted from Driftglass