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The Problem With Pundits


 

A good example over the weekend of why everybody hates TV news pundits:

The pundits spent several days complaining that The Most Important VP Candidate Ever wouldn’t sit down with reporters to answer questions. Nothing better sums up the disconnect between how TV pundits see themselves and how the real world sees them. They think they’re the hard-hitting watchdogs who hold candidates’ feet to the fire, grill them, and other heat metaphors. We know that they’re not very smart, that they’re highly deferential, and that their shows are basically game shows — the contestants (interviewees) can either “lose” by slipping up and saying something that makes them sound bad, or they can “win” by getting through the interview without any gaffes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for this kind of interview, but what’s bizarre is that these pundits really do seem to have an inflated opinion of their own importance and seriousness.

This may help to explain why Fox News has been successful; it’s not just that it appeals to conservatives, it’s that it has fewer pretentions to seriousness than the other networks (okay, Brit Hume still thinks he’s a journalist, but that will pass eventually) and essentially styles itself as talk radio on TV. Whereas MSNBC still thinks that its coverage has to be “serious” — which is to say, bland — and winds up pleasing nobody at all.


 
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The Problem With Pundits

  1. A VP candidate refuses to talk to the media, and the problem is the media?

    You don’t think this says anything about the candidate at all?

  2. I agree that pundits are up themselves, I thought it was hilarious when people were complaining that Palin hadn’t even been on Meet The Press.

    However, I disagree with your analysis of Fox News. It is successful because, while some of the presenters are conservative, the guests they have on are always mixed and the tone is a bit more low key. Every issue is not treated like the very survival of the planet is at stake.

    Liberals, on the other hand, are famously intolerant and believe defenestration is acceptable for anyone who doesn’t believe in the liberal shibboleths. And that comes through in the coverage when the MSNBC clowns get wound up by the most innocuous comments.

  3. A VP candidate refuses to talk to the media, and the problem is the media?

    You don’t think this says anything about the candidate at all?

    Definitely it does, but the strategy depends on the self-obsession of the media pundits. If TV news actually focused on issues, the strategy wouldn’t work, because they’d just do actual news about her and she’d have to do interviews just to spin her way out of it. But the way TV news works is it’s about access, and about personalities, so when they don’t have access, they just spend their time complaining that they’re not getting access.

    t is successful because, while some of the presenters are conservative, the guests they have on are always mixed and the tone is a bit more low key. Every issue is not treated like the very survival of the planet is at stake.

    Well, that’s the point — they know, and more or less admit, that they don’t take issues very seriously. Which gives them an advantage over other news shows which also don’t take issues seriously, but pretend they do.

    And I think there is something to the idea that the guests are always mixed. Fox News has a few more liberals than the other networks, but that’s because most the other networks don’t have liberal guests; instead they have a mix of conservative pundits and “objective” journalists who are terrified of being accused of liberal bias. Even though Fox News liberals are mostly there to be shouted down, at least they’re there, whereas you can turn on ABC or CNN on Sunday morning and never see a liberal. Which gets boring.

  4. I am curious to see how it plays out. I understand why they haven’t put Palin in front of reporters yet but at some point, I agree, she should do interviews.

    However, I wonder if the general public will even notice she’s ducking the media. If she is holding rallies a few times a day, and the media continues its obsession with her and she’s on the nightly news all the time, will the people even realize she’s avoiding reporters?

  5. Jamie Thanks for clarification, I thought you were arguing that Fox reporters don’t take their jobs seriously, which they obviously do.

    And I agree how absurd it is for obviously liberal reporters to try and be ‘objective’. I wish North American msm didn’t try to be neutral, because they aren’t, and just said what they actually think.

  6. Absolutely. If more journalists would realise their job is to entertain like FOX, we’d see a huge improvement in political coverage. Congratulations to Macleans for taking an early lead in this campaign.

  7. “Fox News has a few more liberals than the other networks, but that’s because most the other networks don’t have liberal guests; instead they have a mix of conservative pundits and “objective” journalists who are terrified of being accused of liberal bias.”

    Jaime

    I am conservative and wear a tinfoil hat as far as liberal msm goes but I never thought of it that way before.

    I always saw it as obviously lib reporters trying to hide their slant but I didn’t think about how they weren’t saying exactly what they thought and so the lib view wasn’t being presented. Interesting view, thanks.

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