My hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, attempted to tie conservative punditry to the threat of outbreaks in rural America. The paper is concerned about the health of rural Missourians because all they do is listen to conservative radio all day and watch Fox news when they’re not at Walmart:

Through March, less heavily populated areas mostly watched from the sidelines as their more urban neighbors wrestled with the crisis. It was surely tempting to assume it would leave the rural areas alone. Viruses by their nature thrive in crowds but less so in open areas with fewer people.

Complacency was fed by irresponsible rhetoric from voices popular in rural America — the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs, and a certain incumbent president — dismissing the pandemic as an exaggeration or even a hoax. It didn’t help that rural-state governors, including Missouri’s Mike Parson, were generally slower to issue stay-at-home orders than their urban counterparts, further signaling to their citizens that this wasn’t a threat.

Complacency? The only complacency concerning infection increase that anyone saw was from Nancy Pelosi who staged a photo-op in Chinatown on February 24th, a month after Trump’s travel moratorium on hotspot areas (for which he was promptly called a racist and fascist), and told everyone to come out with the crowds and eat at local restaurants. As someone in syndicated talk radio, I don’t recall anyone in my industry downplaying any risks associated with the Wuhan coronavirus or calling it a “hoax,” least of all the President. Trump didn’t call the pandemic a hoax, he did call the Democrats’s fear-mongering and false accusations about his response a “hoax,” much in the way that tabloid writers are now trying to pull a hoax over on Americans by insisting that the President called the pandemic a “hoax.”

Parson and some other rural-state governors are finally acknowledging the seriousness and the special problems rural states will have in dealing with it. Rural residents should be heeding those warnings, and not the seductive voices of uninformed pundits telling them it’s just a big-city problem.

I’m not sure that Parson has ever considered the impact of the pandemic on rural areas as unserious. I would say that a guy born and raised on a Missouri farm would probably have a better idea of the rural American impact and response than do urban-dwelling editorial staffers. Rural residents aren’t stupid nor do they deserve the suggestion just because some of them hold Republican policy positions. It’s also lazy for the paper to suggest that pundits with whom they disagree are “uninformed” simply because of disagreement — or because pundits may ask questions about the discrepancy between various IMHE models or voice criticism of elected officials who use the pandemic as an excuse to exceed their authority.

Governor Mike Parson responded:

But we continue to have one problem: elite, liberal newspapers in our state believe that you and I are too simple-minded and uneducated to overcome tough challenges.

The latest from the editorial board of the St. Louis Post Dispatch is unacceptable and irresponsible. Missourians everywhere are tired of being labeled and dismissed by liberal news outlets. The rural and urban divide exists because of this type of attack on Missourians’ way of life.

The paper determined the only way to extricate themselves of this mess was to appeal to literality, or the Amelia Bedelia tactic. Tag team defense courtesy of the Springfield News-Leader:

Gov. Mike Parson had some harsh words for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a press briefing Wednesday.

He said the newspaper’s editorial board had produced “one of the most disgraceful things” in a paper that day when it “referred” to all residents outside the St. Louis region as “simple-minded rural Missourians.”


But that “simple-minded” descriptor was nowhere to be found in the paper Wednesday afternoon.It did not appear in Post-Dispatch editorials online, in an electronic version of Wednesday’s print edition, or in a physical copy of the paper obtained by this reporter’s father in St. Louis County.

So the suggestion that rural Missourians’s (“Rural residents should be heeding those warnings, and not the seductive voices of uninformed pundits telling them it’s just a big-city problem”) complacency was “fed by irresponsible rhetoric from voices popular in rural America — the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs, and a certain incumbent president” wasn’t meant to imply that rural Missourians rely only on talk radio and the President to inform their decisions about the Wuhan coronavirus and quarantine? Because writing how rural Missourians take their pandemic direction from pundits is an odd way to say that you weren’t suggesting that residents outside of the St. Louis metro area were simple-minded or rural.

People don’t trust legacy media because, instead of informing us of newsworthy developments, legacy media seems more preoccupied with lecturing their readers and viewers whenever we depart from, or disagree with, legacy media’s progressive ideology. A free press dishonors its heritage by treating the free people it was designed to inform and protect as simple-minded peasants because of political differences. Whether intended or not — and frankly, you have to be incredibly insulated from diverse thought to think such intimation wasn’t insulting — this was clearly conveyed.