Provincial Coastal Media Cover the Series
They are so very provincial, the coastal media. While they claim to represent the country as a whole, most "national" media figures represent only one third of the nation's population. As for the flyover states -- that vast region lying between the Appalachians and the west coast -- the national media seem to think they don't exist.
That disdain was on full display during this year's World Series. The Boston-St. Louis matchup provides the perfect opportunity for the coastal elite to lord it over the hapless outliers who have the misfortune to reside in the inconsequential interior. Now if only Boston could win the Series!
The controversial end to game three was especially irksome to those coastal commuters who seem to think a series win is theirs by right. ("A controversy for the ages," the Boston Globe called it.) With the game tied 4-4, Cardinal runner Allen Craig attempted to advance from third base to home. Intentionally or not (it looked intentional to me, but I'm a lifelong Cardinals fan), he was obstructed by Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Third-base umpire Jim Joyce correctly called an obstruction, which left Craig safe at the plate, despite his being tagged out by a throw from Daniel Nava in left field. Fans on both coasts went livid at the umpire's call.
Meanwhile, Cardinals fans echoed the feelings of Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice. "A Daniel. A Second Daniel." And so the umpire was. It's right there in the rule book.
But rules don't seem to matter when the coastal elite don't get their way. The fact that the call was correct -- obstruction, intentional or not, is still obstruction, and the runner is permitted to advance -- was not enough to stop the howling in the liberal media. From CBS to NBC to ABC, there was dismay at the "controversial" call and sympathy for the Red Sox, who seemed to have been "cheated" of a win. The Red Sox were supposed to have marched into St. Louis and taken the series there, but they now found themselves behind. And, as one dismayed commentator pointed out, in the 18 instances when a team has fallen behind 2 to 1, the team in the lead has gone on to win the series 16 times. "Good news for Cardinals fans" was all she could muster.
For their part, the New York Times, mere days after crowning David Ortiz the new "Mr. October," had to admit that the call was correct. Maybe they were still smarting over the abysmal late-season collapse of their beloved Yankees and were relishing a little schadenfreude at Boston's expense. Still, they headlined their coverage with "the Cardinals stumble into a victory" and characterized the Series as "sloppy." I wonder how sloppy it would have been if Boston had been winning.
For their part, USA Today mused on whether a bird assisted the Cardinals in Game 3. That was when Jacoby Ellsbury muffed an easy catch in the outfield, putting Matt Holliday on first. It didn't matter that Holliday never reached home. The bird-assist was good enough for a headline.
Not much was said in the coastal news about the remarkable pitching and fielding that put the Cardinals in a position to win on that final play. Joe Kelly held Boston to a single run through five innings, and Matt Carpenter made a tremendous play at second base early in the game to keep Daniel Nava off first. All the media could see was that the Cardinals benefited from a "lucky break" -- and, of course, they were never supposed to win to begin with.
That seemed to be the feeling among the commentariat on the Sunday talk shows. As they aired the final play again and again, the "national" media bemoaned the dreadful news coming out of the heartland. It was not just unlucky; it was somehow unfair. The coastal culture expects to prevail over its backward brethren. After all, the coastal culture is America, not those gun-toting, pickup-pumping, Bible-thumping bumpkins who populate the South and the Plains.
What right have those St. Louis people even to be in the Series, much less to think they can win?
It was the same attitude of entitlement when George W. Bush eked out a victory in the 2000 election. The Bush victory in Florida was later confirmed by a recount of the entire state conducted by a reputatable newspaper, but the coastal media would have none of it. They still refuse to accept the result -- not because Al Gore won (he didn't), but because he should have won. That was the feeling of the coastal population, and it was echoed in the "national" media that serve the coastal segment of the population: the old-line networks, the establishment newspapers, and the liberal television commentators.
So it is with every story in the provincial "mainstream" media. The dinosaur values of the coastal regions are so firmly embedded in the national press that reading a coastal newspaper today is like picking up Karl Marx in 1848. "Workers of the world, unite!" If they had their way, America would be a socialist welfare state in which religion would be banned and every liberty quashed by the State. That is the ethos of coastal America.
Do they realize how provincial they are, those "national" news anchors with viewership of less than 5%? Rush Limbaugh pulls in twice that number of listeners for every one of this radio programs, and he comes a lot closer representing the nation as a whole than does Diane Sawyer or Brian Williams. But then Limbaugh is a native of Missouri, and presumably a Cardinals fan.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books on American politics and culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).