1. If something appeals to “racists”, don’t say it appeals to “working class whites”. Even if 99% of working class whites were in the KKK, it would still be insulting and, much less forgivably, imprecise. I know many not-remotely white people and/or people from not-remotely working class backgrounds who are racists. I know many working-class white people who are not. Appeals to racism – intentional or not – appeal to racists. It’s not more complicated than that. Don’t confuse things.
2. If you pull down a six- or seven-figure salary working in a cushy media job, and especially if you spend time in a makeup chair before putting on your gossipy news “show”, you forfeit the right to speak for the “working class”, or anybody who has a real job, ever again. If your made-up face on your catty chat show is beamed down to normal people from far-out satellites, you are basically a Mick Ronson riff away from being Ziggy Stardust, and should probably work on coming to grips with that, rather than imagining that you are somehow the authentic proletariat. You’re a freaky moonage rich person in spaced-out freaky daydreamland, man. Deal with it.
In the case of the first, it also applies to “white ethnic” voters, which is another pundit synonym for “intolerant asshole” that’s been driving me up a tree. First of all, your grandparents’ nationality is not an all-access pass to be a dick, and second, your grandparents’ nationality is no guarantee you will be one, so it’s an entirely meaningless distinction when talking about racist voters. I know plenty of Irish and German and Italian men and women who aren’t racist assholes, and who would be horrified by the idea that their ancestors’ immigrant status meant they were doomed to be the kinds of jackholes who talk about how they’d be king of the world if only affirmative action hadn’t taken that away from them.
In the case of the second, I keep being reminded of this dude I worked with a long time ago, who idolized Wolf Blitzer and wore a suit and tie to a job most of us showed up at in T-shirts with holes in them, who once asked me if my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin was “a real working man’s town” and was utterly fascinated by the idea that my grandfather had worked in a factory. It was like an anthropology project to him, except to say that insults anthropologists; it was more like the rest of the world was an ant farm or an alien civilization, and he was fascinated and not a little rude about it.
He was also one of the most brazen plagiarists I’ve ever known, so, you know, in all his study of the “real” people there were obviously some lessons he missed.