<\body> Stories in America: Why Do the TV Pundits Who Got It Wrong on Iraq Keep Getting Invited Back for More?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Why Do the TV Pundits Who Got It Wrong on Iraq Keep Getting Invited Back for More?

I had a conversation with a group of friends the other day about the so-called liberal media and I aksed them to name four liberals with household names. Four liberals who have the same reach as O'Reilly, Hannity, Savage, Limbaugh, etc... They came up with Keith Olbermann (600,000 viewers) and Jon Stewart, a comedian.

It's a sad time in journalism when two of the best TV news shows are on a comedy channel.

Here's a good piece by Radar's Jebediah Reed about the rich pundits who were wrong, including Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria, and the poor pundits who were right, including Robert Scheer and Scott Ritter:
A few years ago, David Brooks, New York Times columnist and media pundit extraordinaire, penned a love letter to the idea of meritocracy. It is "a way of life that emphasizes ... perpetual improvement, and permanent exertion," he effused, and is essential to America's dynamism and character. Fellow glorifiers of meritocracy have noted that our society is superior to nepotistic backwaters like Krygystan or France because we assign the most important jobs based on excellence. This makes us less prone to stagnancy or, worse yet, hideous national clusterfucks like fighting unwinnable wars for reasons nobody understands.

At Radar we are devoted re-readers of the Brooks oeuvre and were struck by this particular column. It raised interesting questions. Noticing our nation is stuck in an unwinnable war (or two), we wondered if America hasn't stumbled off the meritocratic path. More specifically, since political pundits like Brooks play such a central role in our national decision-making process, maybe something is amiss in the world of punditry. Are the incentives well-aligned? Surely those who warned us not to invade Iraq have been recognized and rewarded, and those who pushed for this disaster face tattered credibility and waning career prospects. Could it be any other way in America?

Noticing our nation is stuck in an unwinnable war, 'Radar' wondered: Is something amiss in the world of punditry?So we selected the four pundits who were in our judgment the most influentially and disturbingly misguided in their pro-war arguments and the four who were most prescient and forceful in their opposition. (Because conservative pundits generally acted as a well-coordinated bloc, more or less interchangeable, all four of our hawks are moderates or liberals who might have been important opponents of the war—so, sadly, we are not able to revisit Brooks's eloquent and thoroughly meritless prognostications.)

Then we did a career check ... and found that something is rotten in the fourth estate.


At 1/13/2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous jack boo said...

Maybe there should be a liberal talk radio show to expose the public to the genius of left-wing pundits. I'm sure it would be a big hit. They could call it "Air America".

At 1/13/2007 7:15 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

I'm a self-described liberal and I think Air America sucks for the most part. See, jack, liberals don't like listening to lefty version of Rush Limbaugh. It's boring. They had a chance to be big, but Al Franken can't get a sentence out without stuttering and Randi Rhodes spends the hour bitching.

And who are these left-wing pundits you're referring to? I can't answer Rose's question. Can you?

At 1/13/2007 11:09 PM, Anonymous jack boo said...

Well, last time I was asked to name some liberal pundits I was told that Chris Matthews was a conservative. So yeah, that went nowhere fast.

But just to play along, the four conservative names mentioned are all have radio talk shows. And of the ones that have television shows in addition to their talk shows (O'Reilly and Hannity), there's Colmes (who also has a talk show) and Olbermann, to match O'Reilly in name recognition, even if his ratings aren't as good. Conservative commentators seem to get the better ratings when it comes to straight-ahead political banter, but liberals dominate the political comedy stuff. In any case, it all comes down to ratings as to who is more popular. Nothing terribly profound or conspiratorial about that. And remember, Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Miller had a television shows that bombed so it's about more than just politics.

Personally, I don't go out of my way for any of these guys. I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh in years, never watch Hannity and Colmes, can't stand Savage or Olbermann, and only occasionally have bothered to watch O'Reilly or Jon Stewart. So when I read "It's a sad time in journalism when two of the best TV news shows are on a comedy channel" it doesn't exactly concern me (much less make me sad.) There's plenty of good political reporting and commentary if anyone's interested. I think it's more and more all about the new media anyway. And I see that as a good thing.


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