INVENTING THE OTHER: You may have a bias against rednecks if!

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2013

Part 5—The Heathers are winning: It’s one of our favorite moments of the past few years.

By favorite, we mean “most instructive.” In Chicago, Gail Collins was addressing a group of finer people about the brown peril below.

Horrified onlookers clutched their pearls as Collins detailed the ways of Those People down South—more specifically, Those People in Texas:
COLLINS (6/10/12): [Texas] has not integrated its Hispanic residents into its political and business power structure in the way you would expect by now. And two, it’s not doing the job of educating young Hispanic children that it needs to do if they’re going to become critical skilled workers for the next generation.

Right now, Texas imports college graduates. It imports as many as it creates on its own. So when you are paying to help make the universities in Illinois top-tier universities, you are paying to help staff businesses in Texas because a lot of your graduates are going to wind up down there.

Now, unless Texas antes up and really, really, really steps up to the education plate—

In the future, ten percent of the work force of America is going to be Texas born, bred and educated. And unless they do a better job than they’re doing now, that’s when we all go south.
Damn Texans! According to Collins, Those People just aren’t “doing their job of educating young Hispanic children.”

And not only that! According to Collins, Texans were making the finer people subsidize their lethargy! When finer people in Illinois fund that state’s top-tier universities, they are simply “paying to help staff businesses in Texas!”

A few people moved to the back of the room. As they started lighting their torches, Collins brought the regional history in.

If those people down in Texas don’t do a better job with their Hispanic children, “that’s when we all go South,” the Gotham flyweight warned her horrified Yankee onlookers. We might all be like Those People down in Texas some day!

Why is that one of our favorite moments from the past few years? Because of the cosmic stupidity involved in that regional rant.

In fact, Hispanic kids in Texas vastly outscore their counterparts in Illinois on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the widely-praised “gold standard” of domestic educational testing.

On this occasion, Collins was pimping her foolish new book about Texas. In the book's long chunks about Texas schools, she had specifically cited and praised the NAEP.

But as we told you yesterday, high-ranking “journalists”—flyweights like Collins—rarely do background reading. Collins praised the wonders of “disaggregation” in her book. But uh-oh! There was no sign that she had ever bothered to disaggregate those Texas test scores! If she had done so, she would have seen that Texas students, in all major categories, outscore their counterparts in Illinois—and in the state of New York.

In standard “journalistic” fashion, Collins hadn’t bothered with that! Instead, she stirred fear in Yankee breasts about the brown peril found to the south—about all the Hispanic kids Those People were failing to educate.

If Texans can’t get their act together, we’re all going south, she said.

This wonderful moment illustrates several aspects of modern press culture. It illustrates the cluelessness of high-ranking flyweights like Collins.

It illustrates their pathological disregard for the truth. It illustrates their superhuman laziness—their studied refusal to perform even the simplest background work.

It illustrates the core belief of their guild: They feel they get to invent fake facts in service to Standard Group Stories.

That said, this wonderful moment illustrated another part of our journalistic culture. It illustrated the counterproductive regional bias which lies at the heart of some of its dumbest work.

People, consider a possibility, with a hat tip to Foxworthy:

You may have a bias against rednecks if you swallowed Collins’ story! You may have a bias against rednecks if her story seemed to make perfect sense on its face—if it seemed manifestly true that (white) Texans would throw away their Hispanic kids, while finer people in Illinois would perform wonders with theirs.

You may have an unconscious bias if Collins' sad tale seemed to make perfect sense. Or if you thrilled to the latest gong-show from Rachel Maddow, in which she wasted your time for two straight nights with very scary campfire stories about a proposed community college bond election in parts of greater Houston in 2006.

You may have an unconscious bias if these campfire stories, told by flyweights, warm your Yankee hearts.

Make no mistake—there’s plenty to criticize in the sprawling political culture of modern-day Texas! But if you reflexively swallow this crap from the likes of these journalists, you may be a redneck yourself! Of the Yankee variety!

You may be the kind of hayseed who swallows whatever the ruling elites have decreed. And isn’t that one of the ways we finer folk have always pictured Those People?

You may be a bit of a redneck if you thrill to this regional twaddle. That said, large amounts of our journalism are built out of this regional bias, especially at the flyweight-ridden New York Times.

Can we talk? This week’s shark attack against Paula Deen has been part of this time-honored tradition. In this famous American practice, the finer people run through the streets, inventing fake facts about Those People as they go.

We know, we know! Bias being what it is, it’s very hard for us the biased to discern the outlines of our own bias. But as people like Collins parade around pimping fake claims about children in Texas, you see the clownishness of “journalistic” culture as it now exists.

Sadly enough, though, The Heathers are winning—have been winning for some time! Having offered that gendered remark, let’s explain its origin:

In the late 1990s, the press corps’ legion of worthless buffoons were very upset with Bill Clinton. The noxious culture of pseudoscandal which had grown around this fellow had an obvious regional air, as Gene Lyons explained early on.

When the animus was transferred to Candidate Gore, he was a southerner too!

We know, we know! You can’t believe that regional bias was any part of this story! But whatever explains the ludicrous coverage of President Clinton, then Candidate Gore, the “Heathers” were plainly in charge by the fall of 1999.

That was the name one major journalist gave to the rest of his crew. At Time magazine, Eric Pooley described the way the “journalists” behaved, behind closed doors, at the first Gore-Bradley debate, although he didn't seem to realize that he was describing misconduct:
POOLEY (11/8/99): [T]he 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out by [Gore’s approach]. Whenever Gore came on too strong, the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.

Poor Gore. For months the press has been hammering him for taking the nomination for granted and not showing emotion. Now it's hammering him for trying too hard and showing too much...
Presumably, most of these “Heathers” were male. But there’s little doubt about how they behaved, except within the American discourse, where such behavior by the press corps simply cannot be discussed.

This weird misconduct was never discussed, even though two other journalists described this same behavior within the press room. Every journalist knows the key rule: We do not discuss our own conduct!

According to the Hotline’s Howard Mortman, “the media groaned, howled and laughed almost every time Al Gore said something” that night. (Clairvoyantly, we dragged the statement out of the gent on a Hotline cable program.) Six weeks later, Jake Tapper, who worked for Salon at the time, described the same darn thing:
TAPPER (12/13/99): I can tell you that the only media bias I have detected in terms of a group media bias was, at the first debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore, there was hissing for Gore in the media room up at Dartmouth College. The reporters were hissing Gore, and that's the only time I've ever heard the press room boo or hiss any candidate of any party at any event.
Speaking on C-Span’s Washington Journal, Tapper said he was surprised by the conduct of the “Heathers.” He’d never seen it before, he said.

Presumably, most of these “Heathers” were male. That said, Pooley nailed the behavior of his colleagues, using a cultural reference which was gendered but apt.

By the fall of 1999, the “Heathers” were plainly in charge, and they’ve never retreated. In the past week, they have paraded through the streets, killing a rather insignificant pig in service to a regional bias which they enjoy dressing up as High Principle. And as they've staged this shark attack, they have displayed the familiar rules they observe as redneck “journalists:”

In the course of killing the pig this past week, they invented a string of fake facts. And everybody else has agreed that this fact will not be discussed.

Yesterday, our heart went out to a guest of Tapper’s on his CNN program. Should Deen be made a scapegoat, Tapper asked.

Tapper spoke with Clinton Yates of the Washington Post:
TAPPER (6/27/13): Clinton, Jesse Jackson told Erin Burnett on CNN that we cannot use Paula Deen as scapegoat for the errors of our culture. Are we?

YATES: Partially. But I would have loved to see Paula Deen step up and simply say, “You know what, this is who I was, this is what I knew and I'm willing to change that.” I think we cast people out to the countryside when they've been outed as racists and there's no path towards getting back to some level of understanding.

I think that's something as a society we need to work on just because—not just because. It is not OK to think that things she said and did were reasonable. But why can't we show her and everybody who believes such racist things a path back to what we need to do to come back together as people? It seems to be we just want to throw people away and never let them back.

TAPPER: Very interesting. Thank you so much, Clarence Page and Clinton Yates. Appreciate it. We'll have you guys back soon.
We agree with Yates’ values. But how good were his facts? This was Tapper’s sole attempt to explain the facts of the case:

“Another big story about that word. Paula Deen admitting she used it.”

Tapper’s statement was accurate, of course. In a recent deposition, Deen did admit that she used that word—on one occasion, in 1986.

But once the Heathers started to run, a wide range of bogus facts were invented. We wondered as we watched Tapper’s show: Did Clinton Yates know that?

Regarding Yates himself, which “racist things” does Deen believe? He made no attempt to explain. Tapper didn’t ask.

Whatever! When the Heathers run in the streets, they play by their own set of rules. They tend to make up lots of fake facts. And the other Heathers all know the key rule:

No one must ever discuss the role played by those fake facts.

In 1999, Tapper was shocked to see his colleagues behave as they did, though he only said so in response to a question seven weeks later.

Yesterday, he could have discussed the list of fake claims which have spilled forth about Deen. He could have cited the lunatic claim which was presented at Slate.

Our major “journalists” never do that. Elsewhere, they’ve been called “Heathers.”

Large amounts of modern journalism are driven by regional bias. This obvious pattern is especially strong at the New York Times.

In the last week, a scapegoat was slain as people pretended to act from high principle. That said, let’s return to the high lady Collins, playing the fool in Chicago.

Collins’ behavior was especially noxious that day. In her speech, as in her book, she was promoting gross confusion about the state of our public schools—and about our nation’s supposedly precious low-income kids.

As liberals, we pretend that we care about these kids. Our actions show something quite different.

Collins made egregious mistakes about this very serious topic. Here at this incomparable site, we described these mistakes in detail.

But you know how The Heathers are! No one ever corrected Collins in the “professional” “press corps.” Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! Her regional tale was permitted to stand, along with her gong-show assertions.

This has been an excellent week to watch the “press corps” at work. We’ve had the chance to watch these people as they invent their fake facts. We’ve had a chance to observe them agree—these fake facts will not get discussed.

Our advice? In the future, continue to look for their regional bias. This is one part of the unhelpful stew these rednecks dump on our heads.

Yet to come: How this flyweight regional crap hurts progressive interests.

Also, the words of Anne Frank.


  1. Are Southerners more prejudiced than Northerners? Southerners in Texas elected a Hispanic Senator, whereas the Yankees in Massachusetts just rejected one.

  2. That, David, is a pretty flyweight statement. We might look at the politics of the situation rather than just the race.

    On the other hand, Collin's argument is beyond weird. Why are all those Ilinois graduates going to Texas? If business is so great in Texas that Illinoisites are moving there in droves, might we want to look at that problem in Illinois? Are they displacing them ignorant brown folks? Then where are the ignorant brown folk going?

    It is all making my head hurt. And that isn't even looking at the bigotry involved in her discussion, sort of like the bigotry here in Colorado, where they are expressing horror that Jeffco is being infiltrated by them low achievers (code word for brown folk)

  3. It's a puzzle. There's so much in this country that's homogenized. Some giant could plop your car down on almost any interstate and it would be a quarter hour before you noticed that those Walmarts and Appleby's weren't your Walmart and Appleby's.

    Why would anyone want us to all be alike?

  4. Some people may not be familiar with the origin of the term "Heathers." It comes from the 1988 movie of the same name.

  5. Thanks, Bob, for caring about the media immolation of Paula Deen.

    Until now, I never quite understood your continuing anger with their treatment of Al Gore in 2000.

    I don't know this woman, nor have I ever been a follower of her work, but I won't ever get over how the media has glibly, almost casually destroyed her.

    I don't know how anyone can ever get over seeing anything like that.

  6. It's frightening to think that's the world we live in now. There's a group of people who can make you radioactive on a whim. There is no statute of limitations, and you don't even need to have actually done or said what you were accused of doing or saying.

    The media in the US is like the kid from that episode of the twilight zone who constantly needed to have everything his way and to be told how good he was, lest he use his powers to punish those he considered "bad"

  7. Hi Bob, interesting post. I have in fact discussed the facts of the case before on my show beyond that one sentence you mentioned above; and I assumed that at this point in the coverage most viewers had an idea of what she has done. I felt a conversation about race a better use of my viewers' and panelists' time than disputing false stories that had appeared in other media outlets. Though perhaps we should have a discussion about that separately. Thanks for the always thought-provoking coverage.

  8. A measure of her radioactivity concerns her new book, Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up Due to the notoriety, it was number 1 on the Amazon best seller list, even though it wasn't due to be published until October. The publisher canceled the book! They'd rather lose the sales then be associated with Ms. Deen. See,,20713589,00.html

    I presume she'll find another publisher. Or, she can self-publish and keep all the profits, instead of so much per book.