There's real paradox in romanticizing squalid, rat infested tents in one section of your publication while in another advising well-heeled readers where to buy a $5,000 Chippendale rug. But such is life at a liberal big-city newspaper.
The Washington Post swooned over the Occupy Movement last year, devoting thousands of words and gallons of ink to covering the complaints of the self-described 99 percent, which claims “to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.” The Occupy Movement is calling for a general strike on May 1, and the Post is now itching to favorably cover Occupiers.
But despite its pseudo-populist championing of the “99 percent,” the Post is devoting other sections of its paper to serving richer segments of society. Its “House Calls” column is clearly targeted towards the “1 percent” of society who can afford the expensive items it suggests for home makeovers.
In its weekly “House Calls” section, the Post brings in designers to help individuals make over rooms. These designers often recommend buying furnishings that cost thousands of dollars. The Post provides two lists of recommended furnishings for people seeking to make over their homes: a “splurge” list and a “save” list.
The Business and Media Institute examined twenty “House Calls” columns from November 30, 2011 to April 25, 2012. (“House Calls” columns were not published on December 27, 2011, and January 25, 2012) The forty-two items on the “splurge” list during this time cost a grand total of $50,806.50, while the forty-four items on the “save” list cost a grand total of $17,520.95. The average cost of each “splurge” item was $1,209.68, while the average cost of each “save” item was $398.20.
“House Calls” designers recommended numerous expensive furnishings for room makeovers. The splurge items included big-ticket items like a $4,960 Chippendale Ring knotted rug in beige, a $2,985 Sofa 1296-03 in beige, and a $3,528 Hickory White oval dining table in driftwood finish. The “save” items published by the Post were also pricey, including a $1,500 Emory three-cushion sofa in ink and a $1,760 Manchester sofa in microfiber natural.
Such largess is not the province of the “99 percent”; real “have-nots” don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around on expensive home furnishings. At this writing (April 30, 10:55 AM), the unemployment rate is currently 8.2%, the national average of gas prices is over $3.50 a gallon ($3.816 a gallon for regular gas), and oil prices are over $100 a barrel ($104.47 a barrel). Real have-nots are worried about basics like food and gasoline prices, not home makeovers.
But the same paper that cheered the National Park Service for appeasing the Occupy Movement, and is now cheering on the return of the Occupiers, is incredibly out of touch with the plight of the real have-nots.