Midwesterners are a proud sort. They don't take guff. Or even the
perception of guff. And on Wednesday, some non-coastal Americans felt
that CBS news anchor Katie Couric was disparaging Middle America. The
mini-controversy revolves around a paragraph in a Howard Kurtz article about Couric's latest reporting endeavors. Kurtz writes:
Couric has spent recent weeks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is touring what she calls “this great unwashed middle of the country” in an effort to divine the mood of the midterms.After the article was published, conservative media mogul Matt Drudge ran with the headline "Couric Insults: 'This great unwashed middle of the country." James Lileks at National Review echoed that emotion, saying Couric's rhetoric "fits with the idea that real America — smart, credentialed, urban, sophisticated — exists in a thin crust on either coast, with the rest of the country a parenthetical insert in the national narrative." As others joined in, Couric and Kurtz took to Twitter to defend the quote:
Drudge jumped on Katie Couric's comment to me about "great unwashed middle of the country," but I can tell you she was not being disparaging
And Couric tweeted:
Dictionary.com "Great unwashed": the general public, populace or masses. Referring to overlooked people who r politically in the middle!
Reacting to the tweet offensive, conservative Jim Treacher found it overly didactic:
That’s right: Katie Couric and Howard Kurtz just patiently explained that you’re not sophisticated enough to understand when you’re being talked down to. In that same spirit, I can assure Ms. Couric that I’m not being disparaging when I call her a vapid, witless Tolkien creature.Is this much ado about nothing?
Update: For what it's worth, the Oxford English Dictionary has a somewhat less flattering definition of "The (Great) Unwashed"