NYT's Sheryl Gay Stolberg, please define “populist”

The Times reporter dutifully anoints the previously unknown Rick Santelli of CNBC a “populist” because he uncorked an on-air rant about the Obama housing recovery while reporting among all-white, all-male traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It was a rant where Santelli suggested Obama was leading America down the road to communism.

But nowhere in her article does the Times reporter explain why Santelli, who Chris Matthews rightfully likened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, in any way tapped into a “populist” feeling. The former VP for Drexel Burnham Lambert (you remember that `80's hothouse of populist fever, right) simply mouthed divisive, right-wing talking points, and disconnected media elites crowned him a populist anyway. The closest Stolberg came to suggesting Santelli articulated populist rhetoric was when she pointed out:

[Santelli] called for the creation of a Web site where Americans could vote on whether they “really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages.”

She might think that's “populist,” but probably lots of Times readers simply chalk that up as being idiotic.