Ken Stern, a former CEO of NPR, decided to spend a year exploring red state America. He attended church with evangelicals, hunted on a Texas ranch, drank with unemployed factory workers, went to Tea Party meetings, and even to a NASCAR race. When he found and related in both a New York Post piece and an upcoming book “Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right.” The title of the book was obviously a takeoff of “Black Like Me,” the 1961 book by a white journalist named John Howard Griffin recounting his journey in the Jim Crow south with his skin darkened to make himself resemble a black man. Stern’s experiences will not quite as horrific as Griffin’s, but were illuminating to him nevertheless.

People in flyover country don’t fit the liberal stereotype

The most significant revelation that Stern experienced happened when he found himself in the company of believing Christians at an evangelical conference. Stern likely had the secularist view of believers as narrow-minded bigots little better than the Westboro Baptist Church. He found, instead, ardent Christians who believed that their faith requires them to do good, such as volunteering at hospitals, building homes for the homeless, and doing other works of charity.

The hunting party he went on, shooting at wild pigs in Texas, was also illuminating. Far from the group of stereotypical red necks, he found that the hunters he accompanied were likely more diverse than an NPR newsroom, including an African American family man, a Hispanic veteran, an immigrant from Serbia, and a Jewish person from Washington D.C.

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He also found that people who were comfortable around guns viewed them as tools and that self-defense with a personal firearm was a real thing.

The media really liberally biased

Stern found out something else, consuming media from the point of view of the people he surrounded himself with. The industry in which he was once a significant player really is liberally biased. Nothing Stern watched on the news or, one suspects, NPR had any relevance to the lives of the people he found himself with. He now realizes how Trump can use media bias to his advantage.

What can people learn from Stern’s experience?

It might be a great idea if any journalist who proposes to work for a national media outlet be compelled to take a few months off and go on the same journey of discovery that Ken Stern went on. The experience may not turn an inside the beltway liberal into a conservative, but it just might make him or her a better reporter.