Iowans are sounding off after Sally Goldenberg, city hall bureau chief and reporter for Politico New York, tweeted her observations from the state on Friday.
Goldenberg, who covers New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, wrote on Twitter about a perceived lack of almond milk in Iowa and her troubles with its landscape.
Observations from Iowa - it is very flat, driving is monotonous, there is more unbuilt land in one block than NYC has in an entire borough, dirt roads are terrifying, no one carries almond milk and caucus-goers are extremely well-informed.— Sally Goldenberg (@SallyGold) May 18, 2019
This statement cause and uproar on Twitter, and more than 3,000 Twitter users responded to the tweet. While some of the responses agreed to the tweet or found it amusing, the company Raygun had turned this into a t-shirt.
honestly, "Iowa: Terrifying Dirt Roads. No Almond Milk Anywhere. Extremely Well-Informed Caucus-Goers" should be in the running for new state motto. new shirt online now, in IA stores soon-ish: https://t.co/juj25ioHZP #raygun pic.twitter.com/o8POQ5ZhPF— RAYGUN (@RAYGUNshirts) May 20, 2019
Several people disagreed with the statement Goldenberg made about Iowa’s landscape and lack of almond milk, claiming that this statement was over generalized.
Some Twitter users described the tweet was an “offensive post” and said it painted a false picture of Iowa. Other responses were more angry and told Goldenberg to “get a life.”
Our regular hy-vee has six different kinds of almond milk and all the Icelandic yogurt imaginable. Also that land is where you get YOUR FOOD— Meira Kensky (@meirazk) May 19, 2019
Weird. It was pretty hilly and green when I went there. Also there was vegan food and art. Let's not pretend we on the coasts are exotic birds.— Estelle Markel-Joyet (@Petitesuissesse) May 19, 2019
Several students at Iowa State University replied to this tweet, including Ashton Ayers, a junior in political science. Ayers responded to the tweet twice, once in a reply to another user’s comment with a quote about Iowa’s landscape.
'Contrary to slanderous Eastern opinion, much of Iowa is not flat; but rolling hills country w/ a lot of timber, a handsome & imaginative landscape, crowded w/ constant small changes of scene & full of little creeks winding w/ pools where shiners, crappies, & catfish hover.' https://t.co/Bq6RDSa1LQ— Ash Ayers 🌹 (@asherayers) May 19, 2019
Ayers said his first reaction to Goldenberg’s tweet was to quote a writer named Paul Engles, who is from Iowa, and said Iowa is a wonderful place, but many people have a stereotypical opinion that the state is boring and flat. Ayers said the quote was really indicative of the current situation.
“This is a beautiful, wonderful place,” Ayers said. “Sometimes you have to know where to find it because so much of the land is terraformed, whether it is a city or whether it is a farmland.”
Ayers later responded directly to Goldenberg’s tweet promising her that residents could personally show her their favorite spots.
I know you're getting ratio'd, but I promise if you come back to Iowa you would be met with a wealth of locals who would be happy to show you their favorite spot on the river, their favorite path through the forests, or their hill that has a wonderful view over the pasture.— Ash Ayers 🌹 (@asherayers) May 19, 2019
Ayers said he did not think this tweet was ill intended, but it showed Goldenberg spoke without depth. He said he found the post to be shallow and stereotypical.
Goldenberg confirmed there was no malintent behind her tweet and she intended to write a playful observation of her time in Iowa.
"I intended to write a light-hearted, self-effacing tweet about my time in Iowa, which is a beautiful state, but my humor did not translate," Goldenberg said. "I in no way meant any offense to Iowans and apologize to anyone I insulted. Indeed, Iowa caucus-goers do have a unique and impressive knowledge of the expansive field of candidates."
Ayers explained it should be the responsibility of the reporter to be more informed of the area they are covering, and he thought Goldenberg’s tweet a statement that showed she did not have an accurate perception of Iowa.
“It showed that she was defaulting to stereotype and presumptions as opposed to actually looking into what our state is actually like, what the people are like, everything,” Ayers said.
Ayers also brought on the idea that the company, Politico, should hire more local freelance reporters to gain an inside perspective of Iowa. He said there are a lot of articulate writers that understand the state more than a reporter from New York or Los Angeles.
He said he believes over generalization is a cultural problem within national media, and national reporters should be held at a higher standards. Ayers said media corporations should hire people from the state that could give a deeper and well rounded opinion rather than sending a reporter that has less knowledge of the topics.
“National reporting doesn’t really mandate that, and they actually kind of make their money off these stereotypical statements that they make, about states like Iowa,” Ayers said. “It’s laziness, it’s shallow, and it doesn’t actually tell a true story, and its more misleading than informed.”
Editor's Note: The story has been updated to include a comment from Goldenberg