William-Sonoma Republicans: The Exotic Other

I’ve been reading Yahoo! News for years.  Once upon a time, they relayed to the net denizen a spartan diet of AP and Reuters articles.  Now, they’ve cultivated their own crop of value-added content.  The term “value” must be used advisedly here.

You’d think that when it comes to presidential campaigns, journalists should be delving deep into the issues.  But the currents of today’s media markets dictate other priorities.  Take Mitt Romney for instance.  Instead of scrutinizing his policy positions, Yahoo!’s The Ticket blog has waged a systematic campaign of making Romney and his wife Ann look bumbling, aloof, and inscrutable.

Every time the Yahoo! bloggers post, the news spin is so swirly and the story so inconsequential.  In the hope of highlighting his awkwardness, one January post was dedicated in large part to Romney’s hurling bags of Cheetos to unfriendly journalists on his campaign plane.  When the primary came to Arizona, the fact that Romney’s supporters’ signs appeared to be hastily printed on resume paper figured prominently in another post.

And then there were multiple reports on Ann Romney’s Pinterest account.  First, that she followed no other Pinterest members.  Should we really expect more tech savvy from a grandmother in her sixties?  I don’t even have a Pinterest account.  Then, one Viriginia Heffernan took up a wordy post to scrutinize why Mrs. Romney would pin Anna Karenina on her Pinterest board.  Seriously, do we have a misallocation of journalistic resources here?  In magnifying and dragging out these silly details, this crack team of liberal bloggers is hoping to quash Romney’s chances by a death of a thousand embarrassing paper cuts.  The all-too-cool President Obama certainly doesn’t get the same treatment on The Ticket.

To top it all off, one of Heffernan’s latest contributions catalogs for us the traits of what she calls “William-Sonoma Republicans.”  She cites an old story by the Los Angeles Times to launch her own confused musing on The Other: in her case, middle and upper-middle class Republicans who support Mitt Romney.  You can’t help but suspect a bit of journalistic retaliation when she tries to cast this Other as a counterpart to the “sushi-eating, Volvo-driving” latte liberal.  How exotic is this strange group of people who would support Mitt Romney?  Among their most salient traits: they live in large suburan houses, take pride in their living spaces, and–most shocking of all–cook food in their own kitchens!

The nadir of this journalistic exposé comes when the author consults the William-Sonoma website. Noting that it prominently features an Easter sale, she concludes erroneously and with lament that the clientele is meant to be exclusively Christian.  She plays up an ad that suggests W-S customers might like to eat leg of lamb with sea salt and shallot butter.  I’m sure lots of Jews, Muslims, and atheists wouldn’t mind a bite of leg of lamb in April either.  And if having an Easter sale signifies some sort of oppressive exclusion, Heffernan had better not look at the transcript for the White House Easter prayer breakfast.  How far overboard can a liberal blogger go with her disdain for traditional lifestyle and faith?

We shouldn’t blame the media for their failure to cover the substance of the 2012 Presidential campaign.  After all, they have to pay the bills somehow.  Just remember to do your homework before you go the polls in November.  Hint: Yahoo! News won’t help.

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