Political wagyu

The gustatory-political text for today:

Rage against the media is political Wagyu for the president’s base. (NYT, “[REDACTED]’s Attacks on the Press: Telling Escalation From Empty Threats” by Michael M. Grynbaum on 10/12/17 on-line)

The sentence in its context:

[REDACTED] usually ignores the criticism that comes his way from MSNBC, the reliably liberal cable channel that, his advisers argue, will attack his administration no matter what.

But two reports by the channel’s parent network, NBC News — including a scoop that the president sought to expand the nation’s nuclear arsenal — set off some of [REDACTED]’s most hostile rhetoric yet about the freedom of the press.

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked,” he wrote on Twitter. “Not fair to public!”

A few caveats to keep in mind. Rage against the media is political Wagyu for the president’s base. And [REDACTED]’s notion of suspending licenses — along with his proposal, tweeted last week, that late-night comedians be subject to the “equal time” rule — is essentially unworkable, given how government regulation of the airwaves actually works.

Start with wagyu / Wagyu. From Wikipedia:

American wagyu beef

Wagyu (Wagyū, “Japanese cow” [Wa ‘Japanese’ + gyu ‘cow’]) is any of four Japanese breeds of beef cattle, the most desired of which is genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its quality, and commands a high price.

So wagyu beef is very highly valued beef. And beef is the prototypical red meat. From Wiktionary:

noun red meat: meats such as beef that are dark red in colour when uncooked

Red meat — and especially rare red meat — is associated in American culture (and some other Western cultures) with characteristics of high masculinity: athleticism, contentiousness, competitiveness, strength, aggressiveness, and the like. Those associations led to the development of an idiomatic sense of red meat, especially in a political context. From the same Wiktionary entry:

fresh, inspiring, or inflammatory topics or information

Some typical cites show the vividness of the meat image in the idiom:

providing me with red meat for campaign speeches; she threw no red meat to the audience; gives the City some red meat to chew on; taxes and other topics that are red meat to economic conservatives

So if wagyu beef is the primest of prime beef, and beef is the reddest of red meat, metaphorical wagyu is the freshest, most inspiring, or most inflammatory topics or information: really, really red meat. Stuff that will turn them into slavering beasts.

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