Willamette Week's Big Fail

Many newspapers and magazines have an institutional voice, and although I worked for Willamette Week for three years I never got theirs. Media criticism is tiresome, but WW's epic "President of Beers" project serves as such a rich metaphor that I have to wade in. 

First, the set-up:
Willamette Week acquired a craft beer from all 50 states to figure out which state has the best flagship beer. We then assembled a team of 12 beer tasters who blind tasted each beer in random order, then independently rated them on a scale of 1-100. We averaged the scores to elect the President of Beers. 
How did we determine the flagship? Mostly, we picked the largest brewery in the state’s signature brew. Sometimes we went with the best-known beer from the state or a beer that represents the spirit of the state. These aren’t the “best” craft beers from each state—they’re just a little taste of the state in liquid form.
WW is now busy reporting the results, from the worst beers to the best.  (Full disclosure: I was invited to be on the panel of tasters but wasn't free the day they did it.  Further disclosure--I used to write a beer column for WW, but back in forgotten mists of time.)  The idea is actually intriguing--and certainly worthy enough topic for driving sales (or clicks).  I was drawn in enough to start reading.  Of course, I mistakenly began by failing to get the point, though, foolishly engaging the selection criteria. For example, I noticed that:
  • Yuengling, PA's choice, isn't a craft brewery;
  • Boston Beer, the MA selection, is not brewed in MA;
  • It's just harsh and wrong to saddle WA with Mack and Jack's.
I could have gone on and on (in addition to the states I mentioned, TX, ME, and MO were all bizarre picks--and we're only through 28 states) , but I threw those as examples to WW's Martin Cizmar, who responded to my complaints this way: "I honestly think any 'serious' discussion about what beer was picked is pretty stupid, unless someone is arguing that there is some other beer that really defines the people and place better. It's pretty simple: We picked beers that tell a state's story in beer form. It's supposed to be fun."

So this is exactly where I don't get WW.  On the one hand, it's just supposed to be for fun (read: no criticism), but on the other, they seem to be taking it pretty seriously.  (Spoiler alert: they're even flying the winners to Oregon, which my keen powers of induction tell me means Oregon is not the winning state.)  They went to a hell of a lot of trouble to track down beers from every state, but apparently no trouble at all to figure out which beers they should be trying to track down.  But the thing I really don't get is the extreme hostile/defensive prose stylings that I guess are supposed to track as comedy.  Such as this comment on the state of Georgia:
The very contradictory state of Georgia, home to OutKast, the Indigo Girls, Chick-fil-A, Michael Stipe, Tyler Perry, the Duke boys, and a bunch of redneck motherfuckers. [bold mine]
WW has always struck me as that high school striver a notch below the sanguinely popular who works far too hard to look like he's not trying.  Unlike Portland's other alt weekly, the Mercury, which joyfully embraces D&D and old people, WW is too scared of looking uncool to embrace anything someone else might think is uncool.  Instead, it picks on the weak and overcompensates with extreme statements (potty language!) like the one above.  It's painful to watch. 

I will throw a bone to John Locanthi, who wrote some of the entries.  (So did the ever good Yaeger, but he needs none of my praise.)  He hits Fat Tire right on the nose:
This crystal clear, pale amber ale comes with a sweet, malty aroma. The deceptively light appearance masks a full-bodied beer that coats your throat and mouth. Fat Tire doesn’t have a strong flavor—it isn’t particularly hoppy, and only vaguely sweet—but it lingers, long overstaying its welcome.
I've seen no buzz about the series, which is another element of the fail, but if you've had a gander, your thoughts?