CEDAR RAPIDS — It wasn’t the Iowa news reporters who cover him that Sen. Chuck Grassley had in mind when he posted a question on Twitter about “elite” journalists.
“Of course, I wasn’t talking about you,” Grassley replied when asked about his tweet earlier this week “do u think 2day’s journalists r too elite for ‘ordinary Americans?’”
“There’s nobody on this list I just called that I would put in that category,” Grassley told a handful of reporters from newspapers in Cedars Rapids, Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa and Omaha on his weekly conference call.
“Maybe that insults you when I don’t say you’re elite,” he joked. “You’re probably elite journalists, but not elitist.”
The Iowa news reporters he knows “know a lot about Iowans,” he said.
“They probably even know that Chuck Grassley spent 10 years on the assembly line putting screw holes in furnace registers,” he said. “If they know that type of person and that’s the average Iowan, I don’t have any problems.”
However, the Iowa Republican does have concerns that some journalists don’t – or can’t – relate to ordinary folks.
Although he speculated he will get into trouble by explaining his concern, Grassley said there are “certain newspapers in this country and certain writers who tend to be quoted and quoted by television and it goes pretty far and wide and that’s kind of where you get the feeling.”
He thinks people want less bias and more balance in news coverage “so we can focus on what matters,” such as jobs, combating terrorism and addressing opioid abuse.
Grassley, who has been tweeting since 2007 and has nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter, took responsibility for the tweet that produced an avalanche of answers – many snarky or hostile to the suggestion that journalists may be elite.
“There’s a couple things about Twitter,” he said. “One is to tell people what you’re doing and the other is to encourage dialogue. I guess I encouraged a little more than I wanted to.”