Rolling Stone Writer Bashes Duluth In Piece About Trump Rally
Before I get into this piece, I want to clearly state that this article is not a political piece. I am not trying to be pro or anti Trump in this piece. I am not picking a side on the political spectrum. I am, however, being pro-Duluth. OK, here we go.
Following President Donald Trump's visit to Duluth, Rolling Stone writer Ana Marie Cox wrote a piece about her experience in Duluth and her take on the rally. In the piece, she painted the city as a grimy husk of a once strong industrial town, even referring to the less than a decade-old AMSOIL Arena in terms that don't really make sense. There was also a shot taken at Wisconsinites early on, though only a brief reference in the larger piece.
Cox is a political columnist for Rolling Stone who happens to live in Minneapolis (though not originally from Minnesota); which seems kind of interesting, considering that the piece seems like it is written by someone who has never set foot in Minnesota before. That isn't to say someone living in Minnesota can't or shouldn't be critical of the state they live in. I know, us Minnesotans love us some Minnesota and have a tendency to get sensitive about bad things said about us; but the feel of the article (and her subsequent tweets, seen below) make it seem like she has no clue what Duluth is all about. Even if she had never been here prior to Wednesday, one would guess she might have heard or seen something about the town beside the distorted caricature information she used in her write-up.
Statements made by Cox in her article include the following (in order of appearance):
- Referring to Wisconsin residents in attendance at the rally as "Greasy Wisconsin imports"
- Calling Duluth a "struggling post-manufacturing cipher with the highest drug overdose rate in the state", citing closing of industrial plants in the 1980s to back her narrative of Duluth being a desperate former industrial center similar to coal mining towns in West Virginia, where Donald Trump is popular
- Undercutting the city's population size, and saying that it economically "scrapes by on tourism and as a port"
- Referring the city's skyline as being "dominated by stolid, brutalist mid-century relics and precarious-seeming industrial shipping contraptions, rusty and mostly silent"
- Describing Downtown Duluth by saying "Downtown, every surface is covered with a thin layer of grime. It is, in other words, potential Trump Country."
- Referring to AMSOIL Arena (which is less than 8 years old) as "a musty arena named for a small-time lubricant manufacturer"
Rolling Stone has a reputation of being left-leaning, and it's pretty clear that the author is loosely stringing together a story to paint Duluth as a desperate void of a city to further a narrative about someone she clearly dislikes - Donald Trump.
Duluth is by no means a perfect city. We have problems. Every city does. But, the way in which this author so definitively painted a very distorted portrait of the city as a backdrop to move her Trump narrative forward is absurd.
Since publishing her piece, the author has "made a few tweaks" to the article, as she described in the tweets below. She initially tweeted (first tweet below) about those tweaks, admitting that she may have missed the "real Duluth", and further "apologized" for her sloppy journalism, admitting she "f---ed up the context" for the piece (second tweet). Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has also tweeted (third tweet) that she intends to respond to the piece in an open letter later today.
UPDATE: Mayor Larson has issued her rebuttal, which can be seen here.