So Not Yonkers, the third book in the Yonkers Trilogy by Patricia Vaccarino, is realistic fiction that examines a grim reality—the world is rigged against everyone who is either poor or from the working class. Although the Yonkers Trilogycovers the time from 1969 to 1973, the issues prevalent then are the same issues that we grapple with today.
America’s working class is struggling with real life issues, including, but not limited to, economic disparity, racism, sexual harassment, abortion, child abuse, homophobia, mental illness, violence, death, lost love and lost friendship. Yet today’s mainstream media does not reflect this reality. The working class is consistently portrayed by mainstream media as narrow minded, rigid conformists to alt-right conservative family values. This is a fundamental disconnect from reality.
Any time there is a fundamental disconnect between what is real and what is not, there is a breakdown of trust. The trust between the working class and the mainstream media has long been broken.
In the article Through the Working Class in the Columbia Journalism Review (Winter 2019), Steven Greenhouse asserted that after the 2016 election, “there was a sense of panic in many newsrooms—journalists had missed a huge part of the Trump story because, ensconced on the coasts, they hadn’t been adequately covering working-class Americans’ hardships, worries, and resentments.” Mr. Greenhouse further asserts “that over the past two years, the media has worked hard to restore the working class to its rightful place in the nation’s political narrative.”
The mainstream media has yet to earn the trust of the working class. The May 10, 2023, CNN Town Hall meeting featuring Donald Trump is a powerful example of how the mainstream media treats the working class with fear, loathing, and ridicule. In the media industry, members of televised audiences are always carefully vetted. The CNN town hall meeting deliberately staged an audience whose members were intentionally meant to appear as crass and stupid, loudly cheering in response to Trump’s every lie and indiscretion.
The media holds the working class responsible for the rise of Donald Trump. The working class is aware that it is the mainstream media who created Mr. Trump and continues to push him to the top of the daily news cycle.
The latest media trends sourced on criticalmention.com indicate that a fierce debate is taking place about how journalists ought to cover the former President as he seeks another term. Author and columnist Joe Klein said the media has not figured out how to cover Trump.
Instead, journalists ought to think about how they are covering the working class. Start by asking, “Who is the working class?” Working class adults are stereotypically defined as those lacking a college degree. Yet in today’s economy, a UPS delivery driver, a Starbucks barista, and an uber driver who all have college degrees would still be defined as working class. A 2022 Gallup poll found that 46 percent of American adults identified as either “working” or “lower” class, with the rest identifying as “upper,” “upper-middle,” or “middle” class.
According to Patricia Vaccarino, “The media has lost touch with the working class who want to read about people they can relate to or about people they can realistically aspire to become. Instead of realistically portraying working-class people in the media or in literature, Kyle Rittenhouse is cast as the poster child for working-class alienation. Both the mainstream media and the publishing industry have intentionally diffused the power of the working class by portraying them as small-minded, stupid and weak, thereby diminishing their worth.”