• The Crier

My column this week in the print Reader takes us to southeast Missouri to tell a story: it’s about a woman from New York City—a satiric novelist no less—who sets up shop in a small town in order to Speak Truth to Provincials. Frances Madeson’s newspaper project in Fredericktown (population 4,000) goes badly, and when things blow up she vents on the Madison County Crier‘s home page.

Fredericktown (the county seat), is “one of those ‘communities’ that have been completely written off by the power brokers,”” she declares. Despite getting “exactly zero dollars in earmarks,” folks in Madison County “”seem to adore” their local congresswoman because “she manipulates them with demagoguery 101 on the gun control issue and they buy it hook, line and sinker. . . .There’s no need to give Madison County anything; they wouldn’t confront power if their lives depended on it (which they do).”

Rightly or wrongly, the folks in Fredericktown have proved reluctant to perceive their lives in quite such dire terms.