Very glad I took my lazy time processing my thoughts on the war story of the “veteran” vegetarian (“nearly lifelong” wouldn’t sound as ruff-and-tuff a struggle at 30ish, I guess). So many other blogs/sites/commenters have laid into the parochialism, condescension and general cluelessness on full display under the most idiotic graphic. What I’m savoring is how it took a silly food story to expose just how under-qualified Dash, Son of Pinch really is for that huge job in an age when no one else invests in standard coverage of “real America.” Way back when, I learned there’s a reason Madame X was hesitant to fall for pitches from correspondents aside from Johnny Rotten: Very few who had not invested the time and forkwork in developing expertise off the “serious news” beat could deliver. Lots of us do it, but food writing is not women’s work. Some heavy lifting is required — if you don’t know it all, you have to find it out.* Over to the national desk they’re probably fine with hiring stringers and throwing emergency ermine over the emperor’s spawn.* But eatin’ and drinkin’ and watching fud teevee is not much to draw on when you get a tossed-off salad of under-reporting and over-padding. You don’t have time to see all the odes to KCMO as the next city destined to conquer stockyard palates. So you go to press with the embarrassment you have, not the one you wish you could kill.
And not to get too bogged down in the race to the bottom at a place where I was glad to have worked twice (seeing sausage made does give you insight), but I almost wonder if Dash wasn’t just providing cover for the public editor’s WTF. His smashed beans and lard definition were forgotten once the ugly truth was revealed: Reporters no longer put the truth first. The best reaction I’ve seen so far reaches farther back in time than I understood, since I trace the rot to the Reagan years (“first they came for the air traffic controllers and we said nothing”). That was back when Pinch padded the newsroom in stocking feet, treating us as if we were serfs hunched over keyboards in his den. I know I’ve recounted this many times, but one of the tipping points that tilted me out of that newsroom and into restaurant school* was having an editor storm the desk on deadline and bellow: “We can’t run this. It makes Washington sound like Calcutta.” Up until that very late night, I had always believed journalists operated without considering fear or favor. But if a story about soft-hearted Capitol Hill staffers passing out sandwiches to the homeless in the nation’s seat of power was so dangerous, what else had to be skewed? Whitewater/Coke Can/Yellowcake, here we come . . .