The Real World Of Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan is the birthplace and family home of our intrepid editor-in-chief and good friend ek hornbeck (No that is not his real name, but I’ll never tell. Sorry, Meteor Blades). It is also the home of a fellow blogger and friend Marcy Wheeler, proprietress of emptywheel. Marcy lives in Grand Rapids where this past Sunday “Meet The Press” did, what they called, a “focus group” of residents in a local pub called Brewery Vivant, which Marcy says is one of her “local haunts” and has some great beer. From the web site, it looks like a great place and someday, if I ever get to Grand Rapids, I’ll be sure to stop by and imbibe. I have been to Flint, Detroit and Lansing for short visits but I digress.

Marcy took exception with Chuck Todd and the folks that were interviewed.


As a slew of outlets (including CJR) and individuals have noted, the sample of voters was irresponsibly unrepresentative of voters in this county. Yes, the county as a whole is very white, but the white Republicans included in the panel are far more affluent than the norm in the county (which has a median household income of $57,000).

Worse still, Meet the Press staged the “focus group” in my neighborhood brewpub, Brewery Vivant (though, predictably, none of the panelists were enjoying its superb beer), which is one of my local haunts.

What pissed me off the most is that Chuck Todd mispronounced the name of the brewery, “Vie-vant,” rather than “Vee-vant,” as if Todd has been stuck inside the Beltway for so long he doesn’t know what real life is like anymore.

Chuck is definitely not a bon vivant. So of course, Marcy took matters into her own hands and conducted interviews and, along with state political reporter Nick Manes and video from Carl Morrison, conducted six random interviews with people just hanging out at Brewery Vivant.

To be sure, this panel is only somewhat more representative than NBC’s. The neighborhood is a liberal hotspot, even in the city as a whole, so all but one of the people we spoke with voted for Hillary in 2016. And while the people we interviewed weren’t as rich as the partner of the city’s largest law firm interviewed by Meet the Press, the neighborhood is still more affluent than the city or county. The neighborhood is predominantly white (though gets more diverse quickly just two blocks south). So these interviews aren’t meant to capture what swing voters think about impeachment or what a real cross-sample think, just what real people who could normally be found at Brewery Vivant think about it.

She posted the videos without comment at her site. Since they are on YouTube, I have posted them here, as well, without comment and a hearty thanks to Marcy, her crew and the six Grand Rapids residents for holding Chuck and “Meet the Press” to account for being the beltway ignoramuses they are.