It’s time for all right-thinking people to boycott Wonder Bread. Because it’s bad for you, right?
Nope. Actually, the problem with Wonder Bread is its parent company, Flowers Foods, a publicly-traded company with annual sales of about $3.75 billion — pretty small potatoes, actually, in the world of commerce, but Flowers Foods has nonetheless drawn the wrath of the New York Times. Because almost all of their political donations go to Republicans. Further, the Times reports,
Flowers keeps a low profile that masks the motives for its one-sided giving. It’s based in Thomasville, a southwestern Georgia city just over the Florida border best known for an annual rose festival and grand antebellum homes.
And what are these motives? Actually, the article never gives them a further mention. Unless the motives are that “it’s based in Thomasville.” Which has an annual rose festival and grand antebellum homes. Maybe that’s it right there — any place with both those things must be a pretty bad place. Hell, it sounds like Pasadena, doesn’t it? And we know what kind of people live in Pasadena. Right. Republicans.
All this information comes to us courtesy of a new feature of the Times called “The Upshot.” According to the Times, “the Upshot provides news, analysis and graphics about politics, policy and everyday life.” So far in its brief history, it has given us these gems:
“A Link Between Fidgety Boys and a Sputtering Economy”
“On Climate, Republicans and Democrats Are From Different Continents”
“Time to Worry About Stock Market Bubbles”
“Americans Are Outliers in Views on Climate Change”
If you detect an agenda here, you’re probably from Thomasville or Pasadena. In fact, The Upshot is simply part of the latest trend in media, which is endearingly described as “explanatory journalism.” I know, I know, it sounds a lot like “propaganda,” but the fact is, issues today are so complex and intertwined that the average Joe — and apparently, even the erudite readership of the Times — needs more than “just the facts.” Says David Leonhardt, The Upshot’s editor and former chief of the paper’s Washington bureau:
We believe many people don’t understand the news as well as they would like. They want to grasp big, complicated stories… so well that they can explain the whys and hows of those stories to their friends, relatives and colleagues. We believe we can help readers get to that level of understanding by writing in a direct, plain-spoken way, the same voice we might use when writing an email to a friend. We’ll be conversational without being dumbed down.”
Cool. Now, in the same tradition, we’ll engage in some “explanatory journalism” ourselves, and explain Leonhardt’s explanation:
“You people are too stupid to understand the worldd around you. Things today are just too “big” and “complicated” for you to grasp, so we’re going to tell you what to think and how to say it. Then you can tell your half-wit relatives, your pinhead colleagues and the zoned-out freaks in your claque what they should think. And to make it really easy for you, we’re going to talk real slow and simple, because by now, most of our readers have the vocabulary of a 1960s ten year old. And don’t say we’re “dumbing things down,” because we’re going way below dumb, right down to dimwitted.”
Frankly, Leonhardt’s remarks are beyond insulting. But their most remarkable aspect is not their smugness, or their patronizing tone, but the fact that he is clearly completely unaware of just how madly condescending his tone and message are. “Of course,” he says, “you all understand that we have to help you here, poor dears.”
How exactly Wonder Bread fits into this remains unclear. In act, we find no issue here of any interest whatever, let alone any of significance. Complexity? A company that gives money only to Republicans? This is hard for us to imagine? By the way, can we find any that donated exclusively to Democrats? I would assume we could. The Body Shop comes to mind. And finally — so what? Since when is that a crime?
So what are we left with? One of the silliest articles ever to run in the New York Times, and it wins out over some stiffish competition. Facts? The few they offer seem to point towards a pretty benevolent company (“Flowers is the kind of company where employees spend their lifetime.”) Are they bigots? Only through insinuation (“southwestern Georgia town”). Are they evil? Only by association (with…gasp…Republicans!). The point? There is none. What here was so “big and complicated” that we needed The Upshot to explain it to us?
Maybe they should rename this feature. How about “The Cheap Shot?”