If you’re an elite journalist, there are apparently only two ways to cover tragedy in West Virginia — ignore it or mock the people who are impacted by it. Both happened over the past few days as more than 100,000 residents of the Mountain State lost easy access to clean water, a resource that too many Americans take for granted.
The tragedy, officially declared a disaster by the Federal Emergency Management Agency last week, occurred after a chemical plant near Charleston leaked a substance known as MCHM (short for 4-methylcyclohexane methanol) into the Elk River. As a result of the spill, people in nine surrounding counties were told not to drink, cook, bathe or wash clothes with water piped into their homes from that source.
Had this tragedy happened where I live now, in a Virginia suburb outside the nation’s capital, or in another major media center like New York, it would have been the top story in every major news outlet for days. But because it happened in my home state, nothing but a land of “Buckwild” hillbillies and rubes to many journalists in the big cities, it’s an afterthought.
Ironically, it took one big city journalist to make that point before anyone paid attention. Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post mocked the Sunday news shows for ignoring the West Virginia chemical spill.
More irony ensued when Detroit journalist Zlati Meyer decided the chemical spill was a good time to take a page from Jay Leno’s “Big Joke Book of Bigotry”. “#WestVirginia has its tainted water problem under ctrl. Now, it can work on incest,” she tweeted.
Yes, you heard that right. A journalist in Detroit, which these days is far more backward than West Virginia ever has been, albeit in a different way, got on her high horse to look down her nose at all those imaginary kissin’ cousins in the boondocks.
Meyer quickly deleted her tweet, no doubt because she caught so much justifiable heat for it. But it will live online forever as a testament to journalistic bias and ignorance.
Filed under: Hatin' On Rednecks and Media and News & Politics and People and West Virginia