Thursday, August 30, 2018

Today in Magic Ruralism (tm): Salena Zito

Magic Ruralism (tm) noun: a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of political fantasy.

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.
...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.
Since the nomination and election of President Stupid pretty much nuked the Beltway media's delusions about what Murrica looked like out beyond the Potomac and the Hudson, our for-profit heroes of the First Amendment were faced with a stark choice: use their mighty First Amendment powers to do what journalism is supposed to do -- take a deep and unsparing look at critical problems affecting the public -- or use their mighty market-making powers to invent a genre of fiction which would resurrect and reify their shattered myths about the mysterious American Interior.

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...

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.

But I blew it.  No book deal for driftglass.  No cable news muppets hanging on my every word.  No  make-work sinecure at Harvard.

What I do have is this Tip Jar, which I should probably stop calling a Tip Jar since it now represents  the majority  of my income...

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Donald Walsh said...


Remember Black Like Me, where the white journalist dyed his skin and spent some months living as a black man and then writing a bestseller about the experience? You need to start planning to research and write Rightwing Like Me, where you dress the part, spout the words you know by heart, blow the dog whistle, then go public with the tapes you've been making all along in green rooms, editorial meetings and think tank conferences. Go full Sacha Baron Cohen on their ass. Show them just how vituperative you can be.

Robt said...

As long as "you" are the regulating King.

Too much of "news media, (mainly cable news). Has for a very long (ass) time.

Taken the stance that when Republicans are in majority control, they must cover exclusively republicans. They are in power, have the power and Democratic lawmakers or commentators have no say. They are just angry with the exclusion as a consequence of losing an election.

When Democrats are in majority power. They have all the power and the poor republicans have no voice or say. Filibustering isn't enough. GOP must resort to walking out of a Congressional vote (their duty) Walk out in lock step to the steps of the House of Representatives where they place a podium with microphone. After calling and confirming with the news that they would be there for their announcement of misbehavior and partisanship.

That the media needs to cover the poor out of power voices of the GOP because Democrats have the majority power and naturally be dismissed.

In part, this is how the media began it's free media blitz for Trump's campaign.
And it is why they did not provide it to Bernie Sanders.

I have seen no changes in the networks regarding this. Even with some of their own self reviews, "Did media overwhelmingly shut out reason and normalcy for Trump to replace it with shiny sparkle farts?

What is considered left (liberal media on cable is so regulated by corporate it is on parts of the truth the reported facts conclude.

When "left is used, it is always "Far Left". Where there is Right, moderate right and never Trumper right.

But hey, anyone who able to digest facts from fiction (or non conclusive reports)and keeps up on news in general. I am not telling you anything you do not already know.

Sam said...

Driftglass, I love your blog because I always have to look up a word or two. How many blogs expand your vocabulary? Thank you for teaching me “persiflage” and “ensorcelling” today.