Introducing the American press

Across America, high school seniors ponder life under Trump

The high school class of 2017 will be the first to graduate with Donald Trump as president of the United States. We reached out to seniors across the country to gauge their mood and ask how they feel about the president-elect and about their future under his leadership. Here are their edited responses:

That’s the Washington Post for goodness sake.

My own experience of the US newspapers was that they are all, without exception, incredibly boring.

74 thoughts on “Introducing the American press”

  1. “Reach out”

    Fucking stupid phrase, gets on my tits. Is used frequently in work. “Be sure to reach out to me if you need any help”. Seems to be code for “if you manage to actually get through to me I’ll pretend I’ve never heard of you”.

  2. But how do I ensure that reaching out to you is not a microagressive invasion of your personal space? Agh! Life’s so complicated.

  3. This has been driving me crazy since Trump got elected. Actually it started earlier than that, when I heard a colleague at work mentioning that her kid – a 7-year old boy, mind you – had asked her on the Monday before the election if he should just stay home and not go to school if Trump happened to get elected. All that because his teachers (man-bunned hipsters in an expensive private school in Manhattan according to the mother) had been filling his head with all manner of crap about the bad things that would happen if the eventuality came to pass. I thought, how dare these jackasses scare a 7-year-old about the potential outcome of an election? But that is obviously what has been happening all across this fruited land, with “progressive” parents scaring their kids and then using them as exhibits in their attempts at showing their victimhood status because their offspring is now scared of the aftermath of what these selfsame parents told them would be disastrous if it were to happen. I think some of these kids have a prima facie claim of child abuse against their genitors, if you ask me. And the Washington Post is just adding to the idiocy. May they all rot in hell.

  4. My own experience of the US newspapers was that they are all, without exception, incredibly boring.

    You’re reading the wrong newspapers.

    http://weeklyworldnews.com/

    No more (and no less) reliable, fair, or balanced than the Washington Post and a hell of a lot more entertaining.

  5. I thought the Weekly World News was completely out of business. It’s good to know they are still around. Maybe there is hope for the world yet.

  6. Liberal Yank

    Cold you comment on the popular perception over here that yer average Yank knows pretty much sweet FA about anything in countries outside the US and certainly in comparison to the generally much greater knowledge that the average European has on matters outside their own country? Not a criticism, I’m interested to see if you think it is true or not.

    Thank you

  7. Bloke in Costa Rica

    BraveFart: whenever I hear a Euro banging on about how ignorant Yanks are, I ask them to, say, name the Speaker of the House of Representatives or what the first ten amendments to the Constitution are called.

  8. ‘in comparison to the generally much greater knowledge that the average European has on matters outside their own country?’

    Knowledge you get from the Guardian, etc.?

    And why would Americans need that knowledge?

  9. To be clear, I didn’t say whether I agreed with that over here popular perception – I have met Americans with very impressive knowledge as well as ignorant ones. I was just interested in the opinion of native Americans on the point – (note not Native Americans).

    And BICR I know the first answer, not the second

  10. Haha yes, every European is an expert on what’s screwed up about America and how to fix it. I know that only too well.

  11. “BraveFart: whenever I hear a Euro banging on about how ignorant Yanks are, I ask them to, say, name the Speaker of the House of Representatives or what the first ten amendments to the Constitution are called”

    Or where Idaho is. Or how the US political system works (in a very simple sense).

    Patrician sneering and ignorance is a very bad combination. I see it in Remainers who sneer at Brexiteers and are “good Europeans” yet who couldn’t hold the simplest conversation in French or German even if their lives depended on it.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    BraveFart: the “Bill of Rights” ring a bell?

    Of course I’m a weird wonkish bloke who can do quasi-useless things (for a Brit) like name all nine Supreme Court Justices or all fifty state capitals and tell you which four are named after Presidents, which makes me quite handy for pub quizzes. But still, the idea that Yanks are uniquely and generally ignorant of things outside their country is simply not true. Most people, worldwide, are amazingly clueless.

  13. As a Frenchman who lives in the US and is married to a foreigner (technically, I’m the foreigner; she’s a US citizen. Fog in channel, continent cut off and all that), I will say a couple of things: first, it’s useful for a European to know a bit about what happens in the US for the same reason that a house cat who shares living quarters with an elephant might want to be attuned to the elephant’s doings, cuz if it isn’t it might just find itself in an uncomfortable spot when the elephant rolls over in his sleep. Second, and in line with what Gamecock has to say, what Europeans know about the US comports rather neatly with Ronald Reagan’s quip that “it isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant; it’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

  14. Philip Scott Thomas

    The late, great Alistair Cooke once asked, rhetorically, how many distinct climate zones California alone had. Turns out there are no less than four. He moved on to fellow English ex-pats of his acquaintance in New York who decided to hire a car for the weekend and drive out to the Grand Canyon.

    His point is that America is vast place, unimaginably so to Europeans. Until they could understand the sheer scale of the place they had no business criticising Americans for their supposed insularity.

  15. Of course American newspapers are boring – it’s their slavish attachment to the truth and all that insipid journalistic integrity. We do it much better here in Blighty: http://bit.ly/2fybtUg Makes you proud to be British…

  16. I’ve never understood this presumption of American ignorance of the rest of the world when, by simple deduction, it can’t be true.
    Almost all Americans are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. A considerable number of those immigrants will have arrived withing the last 4/5th generations. Ergo, large numbers of Americans will have known family members with origins outside the US or knew the relatives who knew them.
    And experience of meeting Americans, in America, has confirmed theory.
    For instance, a New Yorker I know quite well has a 3rd generation Italian-American father & a French mother. And she does actually speak a fair amount of both Italian & French.. But there’s also a knock on effect from growing up & living in Brooklyn alongside people like herself. She’s not bad in Russian, Turkish, Pakistani, Chinese & a couple of other languages.
    FFS! Most of the people looking down on Americans for being isolationist’s only experience of forrin’ is the odd package deal holiday.

  17. I’ve no animus against USians (some of my best friends, etc) and agree with BiCR that it’s not hard to find clueless people wherever you are in the world, but I think there are at least a couple of significant differences.

    Only about 1/3 of US citizens have a passport (it’s not just farmers in the great plains, my oppo in a global financial services Fortune 500 company – East Coast, 40s, college educated, young family – didn’t). For sure, you can remain in the US and enjoy two oceans, endless mountains, giant rivers, several deserts, arctic tundra and tropical islands, so why travel any further? But it does mean that you’ve spent your entire life staying in Hiltons, shopping at Walmart and watching NBC (and speaking English, maybe with a smattering of Spanish) and it may never occur to you that there are parts of the world where such things don’t exist. What I’m saying is that such people get no exposure to any culture other than their own, which would be rare for Europeans.

    Second piece of anecdata: waiting on Flagstaff station for the train to LA, I got talking to a guy from Phoenix who was meeting his cousin: “Sure hope he makes it OK, he’s 65 and ain’t never been out of Wichita before”. I expect if you scoured East Anglia, you might find some ageing farmer who’s never left Norfolk, but I bet there aren’t many of them.

  18. @ Chris Smith
    There’s people I know in the inland towns have never been outside Andalucia, let alone Spain. Some of them have never even been to Malaga, let alone our capital at Sevilla.
    I’ve certainly seen a lot more of France. Have lived in more parts of France. Than most French.
    If you want isolationists, you really need to go to Europe.

  19. His point is that America is vast place, unimaginably so to Europeans. Until they could understand the sheer scale of the place they had no business criticising Americans for their supposed insularity.

    And remember, much of that insularity is willful. It has come from actually spending time around Europeans. You’re used to putting up with the French, Germans, the Irish, Belgians – and I could go on – and don’t really have a choice in the matter… We do. The fact that the U.S. is huge does nothing more than simplify what we’d be doing anyway.

  20. Chris M

    “I expect if you scoured East Anglia, you might find some ageing farmer who’s never left Norfolk, but I bet there aren’t many of them.”

    I’d say there’s still quite a lot and not all old, though their numbers are declining. I met someone a couple of years back in a village in south Suffolk who had never been to Cambridge or Ipswich. Last year, I was visiting a Suffolk church, and I was told I was not local when I mentioned that I lived just seven miles way.

  21. Several years ago my mother’s American cousin (a school teacher in her 60s from NY) was visiting the UK for the first time. My parents were taking her on an extended tour of the country and she expressed her surprise at how many English places were named after places in the good old USA, you know – Birmingham, Manchester, Boston, Norfolk etc etc

  22. And Brits do go abroad for holidays. Usually to places where other brits also gather, and can often find brits working there.
    The numbers who spend time with local populace, immerse themselves in local culture and see things from a different perspective is not anything like the numbers of tourists.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    When I was consulting and working around the world I worked for a number of management consultancies and with some very well read and well travelled Americans. Their company was very enjoyable and I looked forward to a number of projects.

    During that period my wife had one of her arty friends round for supper and she started banging on about ignorant Yanks and how poor their television was. I asked he pointedly how many French, Italian or German TV programs she watched or how many of their newspapers she read. As expected it turned out to be zero and I made myself even more unpopular when I pointed out she wasn’t in a position to judge anyone else.

    Around the same time my young son was going through his lefty anti USA stage and was dissimive of them because so few had passports. Fair point I said and then showed him an article that said the French had even fewer as a percentage (pre single market).

    For a lot of the left calling Americans ignorant is just more virtue signalling.

    In my experience, incuding travelling round visiting all the great canyons, SF and a good portion of route 1 in that area and working in Dallas, they are the same mix of people as everywhere else I’ve travelled travelled and worked.

    The only difference is they have been prepared to fund and provide on the ground security for Europe and most of Asia, despite the ungrateful wankers on the left.

  24. BraveFart
    November 21, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I was just interested in the opinion of native Americans on the point – (note not Native Americans).

    I think the concensus over here is we don’t give a damn what them there eurofags think of anything! AMERICA FUCK YEAH! *amazing guitar sting*

    But sure, lot’s of Americans are ignorant about Europe – how much do you know about Russia or China or the Middle East or Africa? Like those places, ‘the US’ and ‘Europe’ are huuuuuge . . . tracts of land, with incredibly diverse populations – there’s probably more diversity within the UK alone (where they speak a different language every 10 miles) than across the whole US.

    People in the US aren’t even all that familiar *with the US* – anymore than most Europeans are familiar with anything outside their own country. How many of the French know *anything* about Slovenia for example? Why would they need to?

  25. The only difference is they have been prepared to fund and provide on the ground security for Europe and most of Asia, despite the ungrateful wankers on the left.

    As much as to keep an eye on you as to protect you, if truth be told.

  26. “And remember, much of that insularity is willful.”

    Yep. I stay away from Yankees. Southern Californians who move here are starting to annoy me, too. They won’t be satisfied with screwing up just California.

  27. Chris Miller
    November 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Second piece of anecdata: waiting on Flagstaff station for the train to LA, I got talking to a guy from Phoenix who was meeting his cousin: “Sure hope he makes it OK, he’s 65 and ain’t never been out of Wichita before”. I expect if you scoured East Anglia, you might find some ageing farmer who’s never left Norfolk, but I bet there aren’t many of them.

    Straight line distance between Wichita, KS and Flagstaff, AZ is a bit over 800 miles. Which is about the distance between Birmingham and Florence. I suspect that you’re taking hyperbole for literal fact – likely that guys been all over Kansas, but since Kansas is as large as the whole of England . . .

    Plus, and I don’t mean to be rude here, but I’ve been all over the world, and all over the US – one pre-industrial age city looks like another and provides the same amenities and the locals have the same prejudices. The differences are mainly what gibberish the locals speak and the exact shade of their skin and how much ornamentation there is on the religious facilities.

  28. “Dennis the Peasant
    November 21, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    As much as to keep an eye on you as to protect you, if truth be told.”

    Keep your friends closer and all that.

  29. Yep. I stay away from Yankees. Southern Californians who move here are starting to annoy me, too. They won’t be satisfied with screwing up just California.

    There are only two reasons for living in Ohio. The first is to be far away from Californians. The second is to be far away from those who think New York/New Jersey is a good idea. There are Yanks to avoid, and they live on either coast… If you must be around us, choose those of us who live in Flyover Territory.

  30. BiCR, outgoing (and maybe to be re-elected) speaker is Paul Ryan; and the first 10 amendments are, respectively, the first amendment, the second amendment, etc.

    Next questions ?

  31. People started trying to teach me Geography and History when I was eight years old, so I know that the USA is huge but Canada is *huger* (and so is Russia). I have yet to hear of anyone complaining about the insularity of Canadians.
    @ Agammammon – the quote was “never out of Wichita” *not* “never out of Kansas”.
    I like/liked the overwhelming majority of Americans I know/knew so, like several other TW followers, suspect the problem is with their journalists – and I do *not* wish the UK to be judged by anyone on the basis of the Sun or the Guardian. OTOH when working abroad I have found the locals to regard Brits much favourably than Americans.

  32. “I like/liked the overwhelming majority of Americans I know/knew so”

    John, given that ordinarily you’re a veritable pendant – you’re pissed! And it’s only Monday…

  33. You get insularity all over. A couple of years ago we visited Ipswich, Queensland & I bought some sandals (as you do). I mentioned to the young lady serving that our local town was Ipswich UK. She seemed amazed that there was another Ipswich, so I said that their Ipswich was named after ours, and what is more, there is also an Ipswich in the US. I think her gast was truly flabbered!

  34. I know many of you are well travelled, so ask yourself which nationality you are least likely to run into? French, in my experience.

  35. In my experience, on European roads the nationality most likely to run into you is Belgian – pure anecdata, of course…

  36. RlJ
    I forget his name, but some writer remarked that 3/4 of the world was covered by water, and the rest by Iranian students.

    No longer true. Maybe Aussie backpackers now?

  37. Back to the topic of the article:
    MSM: complaining about “post-truth” news, then interviewing school kids about their ‘feels’…

  38. There’s a huge difference between going on holiday and actually living somewhere, interacting with the local bureaucracy, maybe even trying to date local girls. You can’t claim to know foreign until you’ve done those things.

    Even the difference between the UK and (say) Italy in those matters is significantly greater than the difference between any two U.S. states. I have the greatest respect for commenters on here who have lived & worked outside western civilisation.

  39. “greatest respect for commenters on here who have lived & worked outside western civilisation”

    Quite so, I’ve been to both Bristol AND Twerton. Scary, scary, places.

  40. In my experience, on European roads the nationality most likely to run into you is Belgian

    Oh hell yes. I drive the French autoroutes a lot, and if there is an estate coming right up your arse in the outside lane at twice the speed limit, chances are it’ll be a Belgian.

  41. I have the greatest respect for commenters on here who have lived & worked outside western civilisation.

    Much though we all complain about it, most of secretly thrive on it. Nothing beats a good workplace rant about the stupidity of “local” bureaucracy, it distracts from the fact that it is often equally stupid back home.

  42. How many of the French know *anything* about Slovenia for example? Why would they need to?

    Indeed. I went on holiday to Slovenia in March, and none of my colleagues had the faintest idea where it was. Nor Vilnius, either.

  43. I see it in Remainers who sneer at Brexiteers and are “good Europeans” yet who couldn’t hold the simplest conversation in French or German even if their lives depended on it.

    Yup. I noticed on Facebook that most of the people wailing about Brexit were monolingual Brits who went to Europe only for the odd holiday. One of the most satisfying things about being able to speak French is shoving that in the faces of Brits who tell me only idiots who don’t understand things would be pleased by the Leave victory.

  44. Plenty of inner-city Brits who’ve never been outside their city. They typically belong to the socioeconomic group now known as “former Labour voters” :p

  45. “Plenty of inner-city Brits who’ve never been outside their city.”
    Oh, hardly fair. They traveled to the airport to get the flight to the UK

  46. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Much though we all complain about it, most of secretly thrive on it. Nothing beats a good workplace rant about the stupidity of “local” bureaucracy, it distracts from the fact that it is often equally stupid back home.”

    In a lot of countries those bureaucrats were trained by ours, and they’ve excelled.

  47. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Plenty of inner-city Brits who’ve never been outside their city. They typically belong to the socioeconomic group now known as “former Labour voters” :p”

    When the now defunct 1-2-1 were building their mobile networks they only built in London, Birmingham and Manchester before launching. I can’t remember the exact numbers but their research showed that some large number (>80% IIRC) of people never left London to visit the rest of the country so wouldn’t be interested in paying for a national network.

    It didn’t take long for them to realise that people still wanted the option of being able to use a national network.

  48. Nor Vilnius, either.

    I thought that was a mildish stomach complaint caused by an excess of bile, or similar.

    Nothing serious, just take a couple of Tallinn and you’ll be fine.

  49. Costa Rica,

    > whenever I hear a Euro banging on about how ignorant Yanks are, I ask them to, say, name the Speaker of the House of Representatives or what the first ten amendments to the Constitution are called.

    I make it even simpler and just ask them, which is further north, New York or Chicago?

    I find most of the Brits who complain about the insularity of Americans actually know fuck-all about Britain. Most English people have not the remotest idea what the constitutional arrangement is with Northern Ireland, for a start. A lot of them don’t even know it’s in the UK. Yes, really.

  50. Tim N,

    > One of the most satisfying things about being able to speak French is shoving that in the faces of Brits who tell me only idiots who don’t understand things would be pleased by the Leave victory.

    Well, yes, but you opposed Leave. Or you said you did, at great length.

  51. > Most English people have not the remotest idea what the constitutional arrangement is with Northern Ireland

    Most of them couldn’t care, either. Just as people in Manchester don’t give a toss about what’s happening in Sheffield. That’s why the IRA began bombing the mainland – it was the only way to get our attention.

  52. > Most of them couldn’t care, either.

    Yes, which is fine by me. As long as they don’t then start lecturing us about what’s best for us. Hence the analogy with whinging about the US.

  53. Andrew M,

    > That’s why the IRA began bombing the mainland – it was the only way to get our attention.

    Which resulted in an official government declaration that nobody cares about Norn.

  54. @Chris I once missed the last train from Antwerp back to Brussels so decided with my mate to drink through the night until the first morning training (we figured we’d spend less than the taxi fare). Got chatting to a bunch of local students who’d never visited Brussels…

    @Tim totally agree re Belgian drivers. I blame things like the priorite a droit (sp) and having roundabouts with concentric circle line markings rather than spirals.

  55. When I go home to Kettering half the people there seem to think the entire universe revolves around that little market town. I’ve never personally found anything to suggest that Americans are less ‘international’ than Europeans. That idea probably comes from the London bubble.

  56. I make it even simpler and just ask them, which is further north, New York or Chicago?

    I fly regularly between the two, and wouldn’t have bet much money on it (though I did know)..

    The better question to ask is whether London or New York is further north.

  57. > I fly regularly between the two, and wouldn’t have bet much money on it

    Yes, and I don’t actually know the answer myself. But no-one who’s just been slagging off American ignorance of the outside world ever answers “Oo, they’re actually about the same latitude, so too close to call.” They act like you’ve just asked them the average annual rainfall in Denmark.

  58. @ S2
    That is an unfair question because when you look at a modern map of the USA Chicago is *further down the page*. Dear old Mercator’s projection allowed you to see what direction A is from B.

  59. “I have the greatest respect for commenters on here who have lived & worked outside western civilisation.”

    Being one of those (Taiwan for the past eleven years), I’m not sure I agree with that. I tend to stay away from the other westerners here and mix almost entirely with Taiwanese, and that’s not due to any desire to “immerse” myself in the culture (I’d go insane if I ever tried that), but rather that the other westerners out here tend to be wankers. Yes there are the obvious linguistic and cultural difficulties, but most of them are not that hard to get the better of when you put the effort in (my Mandarin, whilst far from perfect, is competent for just about everything I need other than a few technical subjects).

    Living abroad is not actually that hard when you put your mind to it, and when compared with the utter despair of remaining in some Kafkaesque labyrinth like the universities in Edinburgh or London, it’s infinitely better. I do miss girls with freckles and the sound of blackbirds singing, but I’d far rather be in Taiwan than back in England.

  60. As an American who has traveled to Europe 6 or 7 times, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Canada (heh), other places, I have a pretty good understanding of how things work elsewhere. I am constantly amused by American lefties who, when discussing international affairs and get my take on the matter, speak condescendingly to me about their cosmopolitan ways and understanding. Often when pressed, I find their knowledge to be from various books they’ve read or travels to one specific country and one specific city in that country (Paris, quite often) and they fail to see the diversity of thought that many Europeans hold, especially as regards their suspicions, prejudices, etc. about other Europeans. Or even non-Europeans.

  61. KevinS:

    A comment on NYC schoolteachers>

    New York State has had, virtually since independence, a body, the New York Board of Regents, responsible for assessing (yearly) the state of education in the state.

    About a dozen years ago, give or take, the test (given to NY high school seniors in both public and private schools)
    was taken by all NYC public school teachers. The pass/fail rate was 60/40 or, maybe the reverse (just now, I disremember which)–it’s terrible, either way. About 20 years ago, someone came up with the exit exam (8th grade). for the public school in Salinas, KS. Not long after, the exam was administered to thousands of college seniors across the country, as well as to many professors. The average score of the students was 38,–that of the professors 56.

    At the time of the Revolution, the people of the colonies were already the most literate in the world and had more newspapers than the rest of the world combined. Literacy
    ran better than 95% throughout the northeast (counting as literate one who read and wrote in ANY language, as immigrants constituted a significant proportion. Lowest literacy was among slaves in S. Carolina (55%).

    What’s’is’name–the French guy who wrote DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA (about 1835) marveled at the fact that the stagecoach services carried the latest newspapers (2 to 5 days old) carried them to remote villages (Alabama, Michigan) where they were eagerly read, passed around, and formed a usual conversation topic at family mealtimes.

    (about 1835

  62. Bravefart,

    Sorry for the late reply. I didn’t think this thread would become interesting.

    The average American has been stuck in an echo chamber their entire life. Usually there is sufficient information to gain at least a basic understanding as long as one uses multiple sources and reads between the lines.

    Comparing to the rest of the world is difficult as I simply haven’t spent enough time in other countries to know how knowledgeable they are. My speculation is that the average America is slightly less knowledgeable that the average Brit. This is in large part due to the fact that the United States of Europe hasn’t yet become a single nation. If Texas and Pennsylvania were still considered separate nations then we wouldn’t be deficient.

  63. I’m glad I waited to read the other responses until after I posted mine. It appears the general consensus is that there are ignorant people all over the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *