How To Cover Tragedy In West Virginia
Posted on 01.14.14 by Danny Glover @ 10:34 pm

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.

But look, it was really important that Sunday pundits cover this whole “Will Chris Christie Survive This Scandal To Run For President In 2016?” story. Time is of the essence on that one: They’ve only got two years left in which to have Really Deep Thoughts about it.

Plus CBS’ “Face The Nation” just had to commemorate the Hudson River landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 — the five-year anniversary of that is in three days!

And Martha Raddatz had some important breaking news that definitely supersedes coverage of the Elk River spill: “Take a look at the newest star at the Smithsonian National Zoo. We got a sneak peek at Bao Bao getting ready for her big public debut this week. But you might catch her during a nap. The four-and-a-half month old panda sleeps 20 hours a day.”

… And so on. I guess if you want coverage of a chemical spill, it better happen inside the bubble.

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
Comments:

1 Comment »

  1. [...] this description of West Virginia (or any like it) in the media because it’s way more fun to mock rednecks than it is to report the boring reality of enlightened rednecks: My father and mother both have [...]

    Pingback by The Enlightened Redneck » Beyond The West Virginia Stereotypes — January 15, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

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