Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Can't Take the East Coast Media Seriously When They Pretend To Take California Seriously

On a day when all the candidates are in California, we find this geographic oddity in the very first line of a Slate article on the state of the campaign:

For the first time today, all of the presidential candidates are east of the Mississippi.

How about free maps for all political journalists!

It's fun for everyone when the DC media mob -- which occasionally goes years without making it west of 36th & M in Georgetown -- starts to write deep-think pieces about California. Alas, we're in for 120 hours of bad puns ("The candidates head to La-La land..."), cliches ("It's hard to campaign in a state as diverse as California"), decades-stale demographic pronouncements ("In order to appeal to Latino voters, the candidates will stay in San Diego and Los Angeles"), incorrect political pronouncements ("The Schwarzenegger endorsement of McCain will go a long way with hard-core Republican voters in California who have their doubts about the Senator's conservative credentials"), misunderstood highway denominations ("Obama will then head down the 101"), the conflation of different regions ("Reaching out to his Silicon Valley constituency, Obama campaigns at Glide Memorial in San Francisco "), and general medicinally induced wonder ("Wow, this is a big state.").

I'll keep my eyes peeled for the best (worst) in East Coast pundit-ing about us, but I invite readers to do the same.



Blogger Armen said...

You know Earl, in one of your hasty and tragic bouts with paranoia you deleted a comment to this post. But if I recall correctly, you'd have everyone use "Route 101" based on your reading of the California Vehicle Code. Still, I like the cut of your jib.

1/31/2008 9:41 AM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

Of course, we make it all too easy for such reporters when we do something like this. I'd write a post, but my lunch break isn't long enough to explain how absurd this is.

1/31/2008 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom's link didn't seem to work for me, but I have a feeling that only one recent news story rises to the level of "absurd." Here is an alternate link to what I think is probably the same story:

1/31/2008 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two in one in the NYTimes:

Title of an Article:
"Sprawling, Diverse State Poses Special Challenge for Candidates"

And, this I love,

"'Some parts of San Francisco make California look bad because they are all about saving every spider or whatever,' said Jim Hosp, a Republican who is 48, over a plate of eggs in Napa."

It's like we're some sort of bizarre behemoth state where anything can happen.

1/31/2008 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

California IS a bizarre behemoth where anything can happen. That's why the rest of the country finds California fascinating.

You can laugh at the East Coast pundits all you want. But I wouldn't be surprised if a substantial number of Californians couldn't put New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and DC in order from north to south.

Plus you're probably jealous because you never had a snow day.

1/31/2008 3:37 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

Ooh, just saw on CNN a Bill Schneider "Special Report" on California which included this nugget: "...But Obama has strengths here too. He's the next new thing, in a state where Hollywood and Silicon Valley are always looking for...the next new thing."

And then he closed with a shout-out to Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, which he called "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure -- The Remake." I don't know about you, but I'm ready to party like its 1989!

1/31/2008 4:37 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

PS -- That NYT piece is almost too good to be true for this phenomenon. Almost every other sentence is a cliche or an incorrect statement about the state's politics. Nice find, 2:35.

3:37, I swear I'm not looking at a map, but I think its Boston, New York, Philadelphia, DC -- but maybe I've swapped NYC and Philly? Honestly, though, what's the point? It's freezing the whole fucking way up I-95 this time of year.

1/31/2008 4:40 PM  
Blogger Max Power said...

I once got in a big fight with a bunch of people from the middle of the country because I said it was more reasonable to know the geographic order of SF, LA, and SD then it was to know where a handful of bordering states (like Iowa and Nebraska, or whichever states)were relative to each other. They got REALLY offended--then they made fun of me because I was from LA, which borders Mexico.

1/31/2008 4:59 PM  
Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

Don't kid yourself, 3:37--most people on the East Coast couldn't do it either.

1/31/2008 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a Peace and Justice commission in Berkeley? Screw my biglaw job, I want to be a judge or commissioner or whatever you call the guys who sit on this commission. Imagine that line on my resume...commissioner, Berkeley Peace and Justice commission. And I'd wear a purple wizard hat during official meetings.

1/31/2008 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick question: Where can we pick up returned tests?

2/01/2008 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhh, sorry 8:13 this isn't undergrad you don't get your test back. Sometimes you can contact the professor and they will show it to you or discuss it, but I've never heard of someone getting a test back.

2/01/2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

LOL. One of my greatest joys in running the blog is when a commenter looks like a fool. You should be able to check out your exams for a one week period in the tiny room next to Booth (follow the corridor between booth and the lockerroom to the very end (it's opposite the vending machine). The hours are like 10-12 M-Th...basically registrar hours.

2/01/2008 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a "seasoned veteran" of three semesters of law school, I fail to see how 8:13's question made him or her look like a fool. I have friends at other law schools, and they do get their tests back. 8:13 was naive perhaps, but it is hardly an unrealistic expectation.

2/01/2008 10:59 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

I was referring to 10:12.

2/01/2008 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah. My bad.

2/01/2008 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone care to share what they thought of the debate last night? No fireworks, that's for sure.

2/01/2008 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Random aside:

It seems Berkeley has been in the news lately because of protests over a Marine recruiting station.

I think it is interesting to look at some of the responses to what is happening (see Fox News article about a senator who supports revoking funding from the city of Berkeley).

NY Times article
Fox News article

2/01/2008 1:45 PM  
Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

1:45--rather than being a random aside, I thought that the NYT article you reference was a very timely attempt by the East Coast Media to reinforce the thesis of this post. Oooh, look how zany those Californians are. The SF Chronicle or LA Times should go to some Manhattan club at 3am on a Wednesday and quote the choads there as "typical New Yorkers." Or get opinions on city policy from, like, the cast of Stomp.

2/01/2008 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is wrong with taking THE 101? No one south of Bakersfield would tell someone to "take 101". This is a classic norcal-socal feud, right up there with hella being the most irritating word of all time.

2/01/2008 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That and whether you call the Sierra-Nevada range, the Sierras or the Nevadas.

2/01/2008 7:29 PM  

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