I never wanted to be a pundit.
Let’s get this out of the way early. Almost all of us dislike punditry for various reasons. There may be a voice or two out there that we all hold in some esteem and try to set apart from the din of noise but, admit it, they let you down on occasion too. Pundits are partisan by nature. Basically by definition. A pundit is a learned person or someone with “expert” knowledge of a subject. It derives from the Hindu term, pandit,meaning someone who is well versed in a particular subject or subjects. They offer opinion, hopefully gained from years of study in their chosen field. We think first of news pundits but they exist in sports, music, art, science, and most other fields of human endeavor. Anywhere a learned opinion is needed for a particular subject. Commentators and critics are pundits. When you watch an NBA telecast on ESPN, you hear Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson offering opinion, criticism, and approval. Punditry. But people often disagree with them because much of what they say is opinion. True they are experts, and their opinion should be respected, but it is still just opinion. Disagreement is common and incredibly constructive.
The problem of late(the last decade or so), is the blurring of news and opinion. We all know Bill O’ Reilly. Papa Bear. When his show debuted over a decade ago, he took “news” in a new direction. O’Reilly had a stint with ABC News in the 80’s, but he was from tabloid television. He dealt with opinion, controversy, and sensationalism. He was a crown jewel for FOX News President Roger Ailes. News divisions were suppose to make profits now. And he was gonna make a shitload. O’Reilly’s smug opinions and combative nature were perfect for the direction he wanted to take “news”. Ailes had no illusions of being “fair and balanced”. He wanted attack dogs. So O’Reilly went to work and it wasn’t long before he was pulling in top ratings for his time slot. Ailes knew one simple thing: Controversy sells. No issue is obvious, don’t argue the defense, argue the controversy. O’Reilly is pretty damn good at that.
So now the anchor was the pundit as well. Guest appearances were either echo chambers or shouting matches. Most often the latter. Audiences ate it up. MSNBC and CNN rushed to get their opinio-news on the air. Today, we all accept that FOX News is a mouthpiece for the Right, MSNBC is a mouthpiece for the Left, and CNN is….. well, GOD bless’em, they try. And it’s news by pundits. We all know that Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are pundits. They offer social and media criticism. How many of us believe they are better JOURNALISTS than most on “news” networks. Is it that bad?
Given we have an extremely partisan two Party system, it is most definitely gonna be in the political discourse. Each side constantly seeking to one up the other. We all remember O’Reilly’s “ambush interviews” a few years back. The extremely goofy cat fight between him and Keith Olbermann. Taking even 2 seconds away from what you constantly defend as a “legitimate news show” to berate a ratings opponent is douchebaggery of the highest order. But what is to be expected of pundits parading around as actual newscasters? What was more important — The story, or the “who gives a fuck” opinion of it given by your “arch rival”? They were both behaving like spoiled children.
How much of the news is actually news? It seems to me that one side constantly berates the other but often times bends over backwards to defend one of their own. If you believe the truth lies in the middle, how can you possibly buy in to any of the garbage any of these people spill? If people on MSNBC want to admit they have a liberal network and they are the Democrat network, that’s fine. But stop calling yourselves journalists. You won’t catch FOX admitting in any way that they are biased. They’ll shovel that bullshit for eternity. And CNN….. Look, we all know they don’t matter. There just aren’t enough wars to send a tight shirted, blue jean clad Anderson Cooper to.
Take the current Anthony Wiener story. Please. People who aren’t paid a single dime, posting various info to blogs, did more journalism than people being paid WAAYYYY too much money to talk to a teleprompter. While they actually investigated the story the “news”, as is their nature, argued the controversy. Jesus Christ CNN, you let Andrew “I’ve Been Caught Lying Multiple Times, Why Am I Still On TV” Breitbart basically accuse Rep. Wiener of being a pedophile. Good stuff CNN. I smell a Pulitzer… prize for being terrible at journalism.
This is America. No one is worried with being correct, only being perceived as being correct. The number one “news” show on TV is hosted by a braying jackass who use to report on Leona Helmsley’s dogs. The country is thoroughly divided and no one is looking to unite it. Unless insults and condescension are suddenly uniting ideals. Yes, you’re very clever. I haven’t heard that teabagger joke yet. Awesome. I guess people voicing their opinion is only great and patriotic when they say what you tell them to say. Guess you showed them. Yeah, they may be wrong but they’re not the end of the fucking country.
And that’s the game. Two sides playing their pieces. Marching orders come down from the top and are dispersed through the media. Too vague? Each Party has set politics. Each Party has it’s own network. Put 2 and 2 together. The pundits control national discourse. As people move to the web for more and more news, they’ll lose some of their sway. But they have a pretty tight grip right now.
Well, that’s my two cents. Punditry is a pretty old profession, but the way it runs the show now is pretty messed up. I don’t really watch the cable news networks since I’m allergic to bullshit and they’re covered in it. I don’t really care what new thing the Democrats are proposing or what tired old trick the Republicans are using ’cause it’s all bullshit. I don’t listen to their mouthpieces. No politician has brought us anything. The people did. And the people don’t really seem to have a voice right now. It’s all agendas and political posturing. I’ll close with this: “I hate you, Chuck Todd.”