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March 13, 2005

Whitewash

Over at the City Pages - our local freebie lifestyle handout - they seem to start young writers out on the "Facile Stereotype" beat.

Molly Priesmeyer is the CP writer perhaps best known to us in the NARN. She appeared at our January "MOB" party, and she also showed up at last Wednesday's Center of the American Experiment party.

Judging by this bit on the CP's house blog, Twin Cities Babelogue, Ms. Priesmeyer is still in the middle of the training program.

Priesmeyer has had a bit of a career writing as (a Google search shows) mostly a music critic for a bunch of the local twentysomething lifestyle boutique freebies.

Before we start going over her Babelogue post, let me drop a couple of observations:

  • Back when I was a freelance writer, as well as radio producer and guitar player in a bunch of local bands, I got to know a lot of writers for the local twentysomething freebie boutique 'zines. The writers were a very diverse lot; some came from the U, while others were from Macalester, St. Thomas, Hamline, Carlton or St. Olaf. Liberalism went without saying.
  • All hated the suburbs to a fault; nearly all grew up in the suburbs, or equally-lilywhite small towns, originally.
  • In years of hanging out with such writers, pitching stories to their editors, running into them at bars, and tangling with them in this blog or around town, I have yet to meet a single one that is not as white as the driven dandruff. If there is an example of a non-white writer at any of these 'zines, it doesn't change the point; I'd say that the environment at these 'zines is whiter than a country club. Although I don't know - I've never been to a country club. The staffs of these 'zines are whiter than any GOP caucus I've ever attended
  • The typical Republican will interact as a peer or associate with a wider variety of races than any City Pages (or other lifestyle 'zine) writer.
  • Priesmeyer notes in her piece that there were "Three non-caucasians" at the event; that was three more than I have ever met writing for the City Pages, Twin Cities Reader, Pulse, Rake, Cake, and every single other freebie boutique 'zine in my own memory..
  • I have not played golf in 25 years, since high school gym class. I live in the city.
Priesmeyer writes:
Is it really white in here, or is it just me?
Answer: Priesmeyer is, indeed, caucasian. Her hair and clothing scream "Saint Olaf [or Dinkytown, or Macalester] via The Wedge".

Why would her clothing and hairstyle be important? Read on.

En route to the Power Line/Center of the American Experiment Dan Rather retirement party, I rode in an elevator filled with white men in suits who made observations like "I can't wait" and "This oughtta be good." These were received with hale-fellow-well-met white-guy laughter that abruptly stopped when the elevator doors opened to reveal a group of young black men in Roc-A-Wear gear who were apparently not attending the same event. Then the elevator doors closed and took the bunch of us back to 1952 for an event that felt like a dinner at a segregated country club in the days when Perry Como ruled the airwaves.
The "white guys" reactions - assuming they happened as written - were not a whole lot different than those I've seen from people very similar to Ms. Priesmeyer when surprised by groups of bikers or aggressive rednecks.

And what does Ms. Priesmeyer notice about the black guys? The brand of their clothes! It's of a piece with the shallowness of the rest of her observations, which amount to a checklist of mealy-left stereotypes. Golf. Three car garages. White entered via hotkey.

What of the black men? Their ages? Their speech? Their actions? Was there anything about them besides that shallowest of features, their clothing labels, that the reader could divine from Priesmeyer's piece?

Of course not. Like the white people that Priesmeyer sat among (and matched) in the CAE dinner, they are mere props, used purely as symbols in a story that was, by all appearances, written long before Ms. Priesmeyer left her apartment Wednesday night.

That’s not exactly correct: Inside, I spotted a total of three non-caucasians, and one of them was hunched behind a television camera recording the event for history's sake.
Actually, it was C-SPAN.

Just the facts, ma'am.

Over a paltry buffet ($35 for iceberg lettuce and cruddy bow-tie pasta?),
Since we're wallowing in stereotypes - whining about the food at a buffet for a fundraiser for a non-profit is a characteristic of upper-middle-class kids from three-car garage land.

But again, I'm sure that's a stereotype.

Rather's farewell, however, included a moving tribute to September 11, which pretty much killed any hooting ovation.
There was never a hooting ovation, at least not before the final signoff (and that was more a round of joyous applause). I observed the vast majority of the crowd was more interested in the conversation than the newscast. The show was barely audible until the last segment.
(Don't you just hate it when public figures exploit 9/11 for their own ends?
Actually, it did bother me when Rather wrapped imself in the 9/11 victims, the troops in Iraq, and the Tsunami victims, yes. His final broadcast was the first time I'd seen footage of the collapse of the WTC on CBS in years - they didn't even show that footage on the anniversary of the attacks. For Dan Rather's retirement, they trot it out? CBS dropped the tsunami story the moment it wasn't sexy enough for ratings, and Dan Rather was little short of an enemy of democracy for the Iraqi people. But for his signoff - which was forced by his and his news division's own politically-motivated dishonesty - suddenly we break out those searing images?

Yeah, it did bother me.

"Courage" might have gotten the biggest laughs, but "hero" was the watchword of the night. "You guys are just heroes," one woman from the Center of the American Experiment told the Power Line and Fraters bloggers. And Sen. Michele Bachmann offered praise for blogger Mitch Berg: "You're my hero!" she exclaimed, while hugging him from behind. Apparently, "hero" now means anyone who savages the president's many detractors. Then again, this is 1952, and those commie bastards deserve it.
Neither I nor any of the guys I spoke with recalls Senator Bachmann "...hugging me from behind". I'm a single guy. I remember these things.

And is Priesmeyer seriously comparing the bloggers present - a bunch of middle aged family guys with full-time jobs and mortgages and kids to raise, who write a bit in their limited free time (and still write more, and better, than the likes of Priesmeyer or Nick Coleman), people like Rocket and Trunk and, by the way, me - with the House Unamerican Activities Committee? With a megalomaniac Senator who used the full weight of the US government to (let's take the lefty canonical tale of the events at face value for now) squash the reputations, livelihoods and lives of innocent people for political gain?

I had no idea I was such a big cheese!

Sorry, Molly. You're going to be on the "facile stereotype" beat for a while longer.

Ed noticed the McCarthy angle, too:

Here we have an event that was open to anyone who wanted to buy a ticket, held in a public place with plenty of notice, and obviously used no particular barriers to entry other than a ticket-taker. The issue of the evening had nothing to do with race. Dan Rather, obviously, is white. So is Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone, Mary Mapes, Bill Burkett, and everyone associated with the topic. The only person talking about race in relation to the Rathergate debacle appear to be Molly Preismeyer -- which says a hell of a lot more about Molly's state of mind than anyone else's. It also reveals the character of Babelogue that they would reprint such a transparent smear, such a vulgar non-sequitur, such disgusting tripe.

As for the McCarthyism, accusing a roomful of people of being racists without providing the least bit of evidence for such except a headcount at a well-publicized event that was open to anyone with $35 (as Preismeyer's own presence demonstrates) is a sterling example of the practice. Preismeyer and City Pages prove themselves to be disciples of McCarthy in their smear of political opponents with unsubstantiated and vile allegations. If they consider themselves journalists, they are deluding themselves. The City Pages has sunk to the level of parody, except no one's laughing at their hatred.

But then, the City Pages are a place where the editor thinks the Strib is conservative, a place where the blogmaster openly called for armed revolution if Bush won the election, a place that linked to a site that showed a flash animation of Michele Bachmann dancing with Hitler to support an article about te candidate.

Maybe it's time for the City Pages to declare intellectual bankruptcy.

Posted by Mitch at March 13, 2005 08:34 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Just another example of how these folks use "facts" to support any conclusion they want. You can't say the thing wasn't a bunch of white folks all hunched together because - gasp - that's what it was! It doesn't matter that race had nothing to do with the event or the attendees - look at it through that prism and suddenly it's a sinister and undeniable fact.

Non-sequitur - helping people build their cocoons since 1997!

Or are those straitjackets?

Posted by: Brian Jones at March 13, 2005 11:48 AM

Not to mention that we live in one of the whitest states in the union. Maybe next time the CAE should import minorities from other states.

Mitch, I notice that the frequency of your typos increases the angrier you seem to get.

Posted by: LearnedFoot at March 13, 2005 12:04 PM

Re: the typos - I'm working on a rapidly-decaying laptop whose white pixels all show as hot pink. Typing is somewhat laborious, when I can even SEE the typo in the first place.

I need to get the thing worked on.

Posted by: mitch at March 13, 2005 12:29 PM

Molly's lucky I couldn't make it. My presence would have made her Babelogue post more factually incorrect than it is now.

Posted by: Paul at March 13, 2005 07:34 PM

I grew up with children of Democrat politicians in Minneapolis, in the 1960s--not naming names. They were left-wing Lutherans like the Garrison Keillor's of today. Talk about white, narrow-minded, and culturally isolated. Even the food was white. Thank God for Republican Irish Catholics. That's all I can say.

Posted by: RBMN at March 13, 2005 07:59 PM

Re: "Republican Irish Catholics"

Also rare in Minneapolis in the 1960's. Any Republicans were rare in Minneapolis in the 1960's. I allude to William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review (in a brown wrapper.)

Posted by: RBMN at March 13, 2005 10:45 PM

City Pages also busted David Strom and Mary Kiffmeyer in a lie about how the supposedly "independent" complaint about the City Pages voter registation booth came about.

What's interesting is that City Pages seems to understand blogging and other internet technology better than most other print media here. The Strib and the Pioneer Press don't have blogs. City Pages does.

The Strib isn't "conservative", but calling them "communist" isn't accurate either.

Posted by: Eva Young at March 13, 2005 11:08 PM

"City Pages also busted David Strom and Mary Kiffmeyer in a lie about how the supposedly "independent" complaint about the City Pages voter registation booth came about."

Yeah, I love that. The CP gets busted in an activity that is completely unethical - and the first thing they do is pound on THAT bogus story. The complaint could have come from Karl Rove via Jerry Falwell, under cover of Bobby Stinson; the CP is still the bad guy!

"What's interesting is that City Pages seems to understand blogging and other internet technology better than most other print media here."

But their understanding of blogging itself is still as poor.

" The Strib and the Pioneer Press don't have blogs. City Pages does."

And it's generally atrocious and very seldom updated.

"The Strib isn't "conservative", but calling them "communist" isn't accurate either. "

Illogic of false alternatives. The Strib's editorial board is a shill for, and virtually an organ of, the DFL.

Posted by: mitch at March 13, 2005 11:18 PM
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