Salena Zito is a conservative journalist from Pittsburgh who writes for publications all over the East Coast.
She is known for her man-on-the-street pieces and for saying that voters take President Trump seriously but not literally when they interpret his comments.
Zito spoke to voters in Pennsylvania and the Midwest when writing her book, “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.”
She asked the voters if Trump’s election “was a fluke, or [does] it represent a fundamental shift in the electorate that will have repercussions?” according to its blurb on Amazon.
Last Friday, a user Inanimate Carbon Rod tweeted: “So @salenazeto blocked me and I couldn’t figure out why. All I’d done was ask her a simple question about a piece of reporting in her book. Then I ran into people in Twitter threads who she’d done the same thing to.”
Zito and co-author Brad Todd portrayed the local Republican officials they interviewed as Democrats who moved into the Trump camp for the 2016 election.
“Much of her gimmick rests on the idea that her interlocutors are apostate populist Democrats who swung to the Republican Party,” wrote HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg.
“This is the story many conservatives prefer to tell about Trump – that he is a populist phenomenon, not the product of regular country-clubs-and-chambers-of-commerce Republicanism.”
Zito disputed the accusations Tuesday on Twitter. She said had never blocked the handle and pointed out the screenshot used to show her block did not have her handle in the shot as proof.
Another accusation concerned a story that misidentified a woman Zito had written about. The story, which she did not write, ran in the New York Times. Her book correctly identifies the person in question “as an engaged GOP primary voter.”
She further tweeted that Inanimate Carbon Rod identified six people she had hidden the identities of to further her point.
“David Rubbico. The anonymous tweeter notes that Mr. Rubbico says he is a long time Democrat who in the beginning liked Obama. He also states Rubbico is a Republican elected official; he became a GOP committee member until one year AFTER I interviewed him and well after the book went to print.”
Another was Dawn Martin, who had told Zito her vote was “up for grabs. Like many Republican women, she struggled with Trump’s comportment. In the end, she voted for him and this year (one year after I interviewed her) she decided to run for local office for the very first time in her tiny rural county.”
All of the interviews were audiotaped, videotaped and transcribed, she said.
Zito’s reporting is being questioned anonymously and now amplified in the press because she made points about why people turned to Trump.
“I’m not sure who is coordinating it, but it is very clear to me that the attacks on @SalenaZito are not just being coordinated, but amplified by a mob,” wrote Erick Erickson, publisher of The Resurgent, on Twitter. “Not sure whether the mob is paid or otherwise, but it is organized and targeting members of the media.”