Monday, March 1, 2010

Tom Foreman — Not Anderson Cooper — on Flint and Luck

CNN's Tom Foreman looks very disappointed in this photo. And why shouldn't he be after Flint Expatriates mistakenly attributed some of his work to CNN's Anderson Cooper. Thanks to several readers for pointing out this pre-coffee error.

Anyway, Foreman says America should give Flint a break in an open letter to President Obama:

"Sometimes I think it is too easy for people to heap praise on places that succeed, like Austin, and to call them prescient; and simultaneously too simple to pile scorn on places that struggle, like Flint, Michigan, and call them ill-prepared for changing times, as if they should have seen it coming.

"Maybe they should have. Or maybe they were unlucky. Or maybe a little of both."


  1. Anderson does not write these letters, Tom Foreman does.

  2. Ahh, I, whoever said it, I appreciate it. Even though I'm privileged enough to travel between two worlds now, Flint and LA, I'm feeling increasingly bitter and defensive about those peripheral participants in Flint life who heap, to use Foreman's verb, reflex elitism, icky noblesse oblige and stereotyping on us. Among the perpetrators of this boringly demeaning attitude are some at Flint's Great Hope, the UM, who commute into town for their two- or three-day a week stints of hazardous duty and then flee back to their nicer, more culturally-acceptable cities, after trying to turn UMF into their own little Antioch-on-the-Flint. I never intended to live nearly my whole adult life in Flint, but since it's turned out that way, I'm fed up with those who automatically write us off as somehow deficient, and I'm with Dennis Brownfield in his recent FB posts: can the condescension.

  3. As far a comparing Austin with Flint, perhaps we should take a longer view.

    In the early part of the 20th Century Flint was booming, and growing at a rate that far surpasses anything ever seen in Austin or for that matter Silicon Valley.

    Flint was no more prescient in forecasting or dealing with this growth (remember the tar-paper shacks along the Flint River?) than they were in forecasting or dealing with the decline.

    Nor will Austin look very prescient if within the next 10 years the state capitol of Texas moves to Lubbock, the University of Texas consolidates with Texas A&M in College Station, and the tech business moves to India!

    Let's not discount the role of good fortune, Tom.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at