It's a pretty common experience: a journalist or publication you respect, trust, or admire writes or talks about an event in which you are personally involved or have firsthand knowledge. And the account turns out to be a lot less accurate than you would have expected.
Here's Charles Krauthammer talking about President Obama's vacation on Martha's Vineyard:
You know, the Vineyard doesn't have any bridges to it. You either get there on a ferry in your Maserati, or on a jet or a helicopter. It's not exactly where ordinary folks will take a vacation.
Here's Peggy Noonan, writing about the same topic:
it's a little island whose summertime population is dominated by those who, due to their affluence, are essentially detached from everyday life in America. It's a playground of the liberal rich: hedge-fund maestros, network producers, Wall Street heavyweights, left-leaning activists.
I've been here on Martha's Vineyard for the past week or so and have been coming here for the past five or six years and can testify personally that I came over on the ferry in a used Toyota, not a Maserati. I've been on that ferry dozens of times and can't remember ever having seen a Maserati. You see a lot of Volvo and Subaru station wagons, a lot of minivans, more recently some BMW sport utility vehicles. For one things a lot of the roads here, especially to the good beaches, are dusty, bumpy and unpaved. Why would anyone want to subject a Maserati to that sort of treatment?
As for "ordinary folks" taking a vacation, the island is full of them. Ms. Noonan's criticism of Mr. Obama — "He also started saying 'folks' again. That too is a tell. It's the word politicians who think they're better and brighter than normal people use when they're trying to make normal people think they're normal" — could just as easily apply to Dr. Krauthammer. Those "ordinary folks" stay at the Martha's Vineyard Family Campground, where a camp site is $315 for a week, or at the Martha's Vineyard Hostel, where a bed goes for $29 or $39 a night, or they rent a house for a week in Oak Bluffs with some friends or family, or they stay with friends or family who have a house on the island.
Ms. Noonan's description of Martha's Vineyard could just as easily apply to the city, New York, in which her newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, is based. As for the claim that "hedge-fund maestros, network producers, Wall Street heavyweights," are "essentially detached from everyday life in America," there may be some who are, but the ones I know are not. They have children, they have employees, they have doctors, they have barbers, they have parents and siblings, they had childhoods and young adulthoods in which they were less rich than they are now. The idea that once you work in the financial industry or make a lot of money you all of a sudden become "essentially detached from everyday life in America" is one of those us-versus-them ideas that you'd expect to see in a New York Times editorial or a President Obama speech, not a Peggy Noonan column.
What probably appeals to Mr. Obama and his wife about Martha's Vineyard is not the hedge-fund managers or the mythical Maseratis, for which the president probably, ironically, shares the derision displayed by Dr. Krauthammer and Ms. Noonan. What attracts him and his wife is probably a combination of the left-wing "intellectual" scene — writers, artists, professors — and the presence of a black upper-middle-class. Not to mention that both the beaches and the weather are pretty nice, or at least better than Washington D.C. in August.