Are you Flyover Man?
Flyover Man likes President Donald Trump no matter what happens with the so-called Ukraine scandal. Unlike Urban Guy, he doesn’t read up about the “facts.”
He thinks that’s an “East Coast media” thing. He’s happy that Trump listens to him, and that’s really all that matters. That’s why Flyover Man sees Donald Trump “as my captain.”
If Flyover Man sounds more like a straw man description of how liberals might view a conservative in 2019, well, I wish it were. Sadly, he’s the subject of a strange fictional dialogue written by The New York Times columnist David Brooks who’s supposed to represent heartland voters.
It’s a group that, at least if we’re to judge by its avatar, doesn’t read much about Ukraine or care about what was said during Trump’s phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky. Flyover Man just cares that you care about him occasionally.
Here’s the opening to this genuinely unbelievable piece of creative opinion writing.
The piece begins: “Urban Guy: I hope you read the rough transcript of that Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president. Trump clearly used public power to ask a foreign leader to dig up dirt on his political opponent. This is impeachable. I don’t see how you can deny the facts in front of your face.”
“Flyover Man: I haven’t really had time to look into it. There’s always some fight between Trump and the East Coast media. I guess I just try to stay focused on the big picture,” it continues.
It’s finally happened. The New York Times actually published a Socratic dialogue between the well-read, sober-minded urbanite liberals they assume constitute their readership and the Trump-loving rabblement that stands in opposition to The Truth.
It doesn’t get any better from there; what follows reads as if it were a parody of the Gray Lady and not something that would seriously appear in its pages.
For a few hundred torturous words, Flyover Man and Urban Guy (worst movie so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, by the way) exchange conversation that has to be read to be believed, and probably won’t be believed even then.
Here’s what Flyover Man says about Trump: “We knew this guy was a snake when we signed up. But he was the only one who saw us. He was the only one who saw that the America we love is being transformed in front of our eyes. Good jobs for hard-working people were gone. Our communities in tatters. Our kids in trouble. I had one shot at change, so I made a deal with the devil, and you’d have made it, too.”
He also says that while the liberal media pretended to take interest in him and his ilk right after the election, they started focusing on Trump’s perfidies not long afterward.
“We became Trump-O-Centric because his daily outrages undermine norms, spread xenophobia, degrade public morality,” Urban Guy — ever the fount of truth, justice and the Upper West Side way — responds.
“You think that because you have the kind of jobs that allow you to follow Twitter all day. I don’t have that luxury. So all that passing nonsense seems far away. I have to deal with the actual realities of life,” Flyover Man says.
He then launches into a tirade against mass immigration, liberal values breaking up families and “an Ivy League elite running government and the economy for itself and shutting out those of us who actually make things with our hands.” Oh, and China is awful, too.
Most people on social media fixated on the offensive stereotype that was Flyover Man, but let’s not neglect Urban Guy here.
This po-faced attempt to paint liberaldom as the savior of everything good and righteous about America would have been an uproarious fictive creation if David Brooks — one of America’s leading pop intellectuals — didn’t actually take this seriously.
He doesn’t have as much exposition as Flyover Man, mind you, but what Urban Guy does say should have set off klaxons with someone in The Times’ newsroom whose acquaintance with “flyover” country is more intimate than just changing planes in Kansas City.
“We can’t have a productive conversation with Trump around. He lies with abandon. He slanders and insults. He pollutes the water near and far,” Urban Guy tells Flyover Man at one point.
When Flyover Man complains about how the “crushing climate of blue cultural privilege is too strangulating,” Urban Guy says, “O.K. I get it. You’re not the first person to spin the right-wing victim narrative in front of me. Why don’t we focus on impeachment? On rule of law.”
This is real, guys. This was published Oct. 3, not April 1. Not a joke.
Flyover Man closes by saying “please don’t ask us to sign up for our own obliteration or support your impeachment. This is about identity and pride.”
“Here’s a confession. I used to think Trump was a jerk. Now, after three years of battle, I see him as my captain. He deserves my loyalty, thick and thin,” he adds.
“See ya’ in hell, brother.”
Oh, to be the hapless soul in The Times’ newsroom that has to sort through the reader mail on this one. You can get a preview of what they’re probably experiencing by taking a glimpse at Twitter:
I’m not linking to it but David Brooks has written the worst piece ever published in the NYT.
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) October 4, 2019
the only person more staunch in their refusal to read david brooks than i am is his editor
— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) October 4, 2019
david brooks values “people like me” so much he made up a fake one to voice his own thoughts pic.twitter.com/ZWNOdZ2eLy
— the norms misser (@cd_hooks) October 3, 2019
Brooks, unsurprisingly, didn’t really get it:
In this column I pass along what a variety of Trump voters are saying in private about impeachment. Some readers are reacting as if it’s immoral to try to understand how the other side is thinking. https://t.co/B5z9SymUL6
— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) October 4, 2019
This sums it up perfectly:
How is it that @nytopinion can’t get a single Trump supporter to write for them? Instead we have to make due with David Brooks’ fantasies of what they would say. Do they not seek them out? Refuse to publish them? It’s absolutely mind-boggling and a huge disservice to readers. https://t.co/pLpCzDjnZz
— Batya Ungar-Sargon (@bungarsargon) October 4, 2019
Unfortunately, to “get a single Trump supporter to write for them,” someone on The New York Times’ staff would have to know one first.
I suppose they could try finding flyover country on a map and putting a reporter on a flight that lands there.
But, nah. Just have Brooks write an imaginary conversation about impeachment and we’re good to go.
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