Every time I visit the Salon magazine website, I can't help feeling like I'm visiting a liberal zoo, one in which liberals share inexplicable thoughts and feelings while the rest of us look in.
Such as this pleasantly readable but perplexing essay published Thursday in which a working mother of three named Amy shares the emotions and social expectations that came with her acquisition of a minivan. I'm also a working mother of three named Amy with a minivan, but my minivan came with seat belts and cup holders, not feelings and social expectations.
Maybe I should have asked for a discount?
And then there's the magazine's descriptions of conservatives that make it clear that Salon in turn sees us as perplexing creatures in a zoo -- except, living in the conservative zoo as I do, I have some knowledge of conservatives, yet I frequently fail to recognize us in Salon's descriptions.
For example, Tuesday's Alex Pareene editorial, "The Right's Weird Michelle Obama Problem."
According to Pareene, part of the right's "problem" is our belief that Mrs. Obama is a hypocrite because she advocates healthy eating but eats hamburgers in public. Pareene knows this about us because, according to him, the Washington Post, that bastion of right-wingness, ran an article saying in part that Mrs. Obama had eaten hamburgers in public at least five times, but there were no stories listed in Google about her eating salads in public.
So how is that our fault? Apparently because Glenn Beck's The Blaze and one of the Fox News Channel's websites ran stories about the Post story. And some conservatives commented, the longest of the comments illustratively supplied by Salon having to do with Jimmy Carter visiting a restaurant over thirty years ago.
No Michelle Obama-related hypocrisy there.
But then Pareene writes:
Sure, the right-wing Internet nuts and their enablers at every industry-funded think tank in Washington would turn a "kids should exercise" program into a full-on assault on liberty under any Democratic president -- it's what they do! -- but the tone of the Michelle Obama coverage, and the commentary it generates, is pretty unmistakably racially tinged. (In addition, obviously, to being usually blatantly sexist.)
Now I'm pretty sure Pareene would consider the National Center for Public Policy Research to be an industry-funded think-tank. We do, after all, receive almost one percent of our revenue from corporations, and for years most of the time we said word one about global warming some leftist yelled or published something about it no doubt being due to us being funded by ExxonMobil (though when ExxonMobil changed its mind about global warming, and we didn't, or reduce or change our work, none of the yellers issued mea culpas). So I think we're among those Pareene has in mind.
Let's take Pareene's implied challenge and look at what we've said on Michelle Obama's healthy food initiative. We called it (brace yourself), "mostly reasonable and well-grounded."
That's from an op-ed by one of the National Center's senior fellows, Jeff Stier, who runs our Risk Analysis Division.
Jeff also said, "a large part of the first lady's campaign is centered on balanced diets, individual responsibility and limited rather than expansive government."
The scorching criticism! What racists and sexists we must be!
But wait, there's more. Jeff also said, "[Michelle] Obama showed Americans that you can be committed to a healthy diet and active lifestyle while still occasionally enjoying a fun meal."
Tell it to the Post, Jeff!
Wait, he almost did, because Jeff didn't just say this in one op-ed in one paper. He said it in an op-ed carrying his byline in the following papers:
Anniston Sunday Star, Appleton Post-Crescent, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bellingham Herald, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail, Chattanooga Free Press, Columbia Daily Tribune, Duluth News-Tribune, Gainesville Times, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Hanover Evening Sun, Hendersonville Sunday Times-News, Janesville Gazette, Juneau Empire, Kaiser Health News, Kansas City Sunday Star, LaPorte County Herald Argus, Lawton Sunday Constitution, Longmont Daily Times-Call, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Miami Sunday Herald, Minneapolis Sunday Star-Tribune, Missoula Sunday Missoulian, Modesto Bee, Montgomery Advertiser, Oshkosh Northwestern, Pueblo Chieftain, Riverside Press Enterprise, Sacramento Bee, Sheboygan Press, Spartanburg Sunday Herald-Journal, State College Centre Daily Times, Stevens Point Journal, Utica Observer-Dispatch, Vancouver Columbian, Walworth County News, Wapakoneta Daily News, Wasau Daily Herald, Waukesha Freeman, West Bend Daily News, Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
And Jeff did radio interviews saying the same thing on at least the following outlets and probably lots more:
WSPD - Toledo, WIBA/WISM - Madison, WILM - Wilmington, WPBR - West Palm Beach, WBZ - Boston, KUT - Austin, Radio America - syndicated, WXKS - Boston, WMAL - Washington D.C., KTSA - San Antonio, KDKA - Pittsburgh, WAPI - Birmingham, KHND - Harvey, KKHT - Houston
Nasty sexist, racist, industry-funded Jeff. Good thing Alex Pareene and Salon called him and us on our "Michelle Obama problem."
We're so embarrassed, we can hardly eat our Cheetos.
Seriously, if accuracy means anything to Salon, it will drop its coverage of conservatives and focus on the inmates of its own particular zoo. I have a feeling it understands them very well.
Note: Thanks to Devon Carlin for looking up the newspapers and radio shows in which Jeff praised Mrs. Obama's healthy eating initiative.