Anderson Cooper 360: The Asian American Vote

by guest contributor Jenn Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

On Friday night I just happened to turn CNN on, and heard something I really though I would never have heard before. Anderson Cooper was telling his viewers to stick around for a segment on (gasp!) “The Asian American Vote”. We exist!

I dutifully waited about a half-hour for this segment, which turned out to be a short, two-minute piece by CNN reporter Gary Tuchman. After Cooper gave us a quick background about the California exit polls that revealed Asian Americans supported Clinton by a three-to-one margin, Tuchman was sent to Seattle Chinatown to interview Real Live Asians ™.

Let me get it straight: I’m delighted to see even a few minutes dedicated to trying to understand our community. But that doesn’t mean I really liked this segment.

Tuchman went to a local Chinese grocery store and asked the staff and customers who they voted for. Inexplicably, every single person interviewed had a thick Asian accent, and every single one chose Clinton (or in the case of one child, “Lincoln”).

Tuchman asked the interviewees why they chose Clinton, but seemed to edit out their answers. One person mentioned Bill Clinton’s experience, another alluded to Clinton being more qualified. A professor at the University of Washington suggested that Clinton’s name recognition and message of returning to the first Clinton administration appealed to immigrants, whereas Obama’s message of change will fail to resonate with immigrants (sounds a lot like what’s been said in the blogosphere already, including what I covered in my own post: “What Happened to the Asian American Vote“). However, overall, either a language barrier or apathy on Tuchman’s part left the segment scant on explanations as to why the APIA vote leans so heavily towards Clinton.

Tuchman did interview a fourth-generation Japanese American who supports Obama, but he was depicted as a minority, noting that other Japanese Americans are afraid to vote for a change from the status quo.

But what was most clear to me was that this segment was a half-assed fluff piece by a disinterested reporter. When Anderson Cooper asked for more details from Tuchman following airing of the piece, Tuchman launched into a description of the size of Obama’s rally compared to Clinton’s rally. No, not about Asian Americans — the focus of his segment. No, he talked about the size of the rallies. As if he really couldn’t give less of a shit as to why Asian Americans support Clinton.

So, I guess we exist. Sorta.