An Open Letter to the New York Times
By Bob Dorn
I’ve been stewing over your New York Times story on Bernie Sanders’ sweep of Alaska, Hawaii and Washington states ever since I read IN ITS SECOND SENTENCE that those victories were a consequence of “the largely white and liberal electorate of the Pacific Northwest.” Did you really mean to write that?
According to Wikipedia, “Alaska has the largest percentage of American Indians of any state” in these somewhat disunited states. You don’t know, or worse, choose not to say, that the U.S Census Bureau reports 42 percent of Hawaii’s population is of Asian origin and that separately another 9.4 percent are indigenous Hawaiians or of other Pacific Island extraction. People who say they are of several races form another 21.4 percent of the population. So, roughly 72 percent of the state you’re calling “white and liberal” believes itself to be something other than white.
It seems to me you and NYT have fallen (willingly?) for this meme that Sanders’ appeal is largely to white and younger voters, and that it is likely to stay that way, while his opponent for the nomination, Hillary Clinton, will continue to collect the votes of African Americans and Mexican Americans, as if they all think alike, or don’t think at all. That’s an insult.
A slightly different slight comes later as you offer a hurry-up description of Sanders partisans as young mothers pushing baby carriages and carrying their lattes. You discovered The Caffeine Factor; your only interview of a Sanders voter is with a barista. If you were on the Trump beat would you be calling his people beer-drinkers or craft beer drinkers? I suspect your answer would be they’re both. You could say you nailed it with that one.
I wonder if still another failure you’re displaying (I suspect NYT as a whole is vulnerable to the mistake) is a tendency to think nothing really important happens out here on the Left Coast (where we drink those lattes and craft beers) because, after all, how could the West Coast compete with the Big Apple when it’s always missing your deadline by 3 hours?
A lot of people have been writing letters like this one in response to the narrow, clouded view so very much of Big Media is taking of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. You may not have noticed the nature of these letters to your own newspaper.
Honestly, I can’t understand how the movement of so many people in this country toward intelligent politics has gained so little attention from a once proud and brave press. A lot of people are hoping for lots more thorough and keen coverage than today’s journalism provides.