My day began with a scan of political news, including a cable panel discussing how the Orlando massacre and the post-Brexit turmoil are “opportunities” for Donald Trump. It got me thinking about the failings of American punditry and the media’s mindless repetition of false narratives.
Fill in the blank: Mainstream political pundits are ___________.
“Ill-informed” is one good option.
“Fakers” is another.
How else can you describe a New York Times reporter claiming that Hillary’s message isn’t resonating because she doesn’t have as many votes as Bernie and Donald combined?
Or a CNN panelist observing that Donald didn’t take proper advantage of the Orlando mass killing? As though anyone actually benefits from something so gruesome.
What passes for punditry in America is typically the mindless regurgitation of shop-worn narratives that are often disconnected from reality. How many times have we heard that Hillary faces an “enthusiasm gap” even though she received millions more votes than her rivals?
How often have we heard that Donald is a “straight-talker” or “authentic” when he is a classic manipulator who carefully crafts words to con people?
The latest brilliant insight to emanate from our elite pundits is that Hillary is too “cautious.” Apparently, refusing to take victory laps around a global crisis is a bad thing.
My skepticism about mainstream punditry is based on my experience working on two presidential campaigns, where I watched Very Serious political “experts” making authoritative assertions about things I knew for a fact to be false.
The confidence projected by pundits is often feigned — in fact, the more emphatically a view is expressed by these political commentators, the more I assume it’s wrong.
A perfect example is the repeated assertion that Hillary and her advisers are worried she won’t be able to bring Bernie’s voters into the fold. But the facts completely undercut that claim:
Poor punditry is no small problem in U.S. politics.
Voters are subjected to an endless stream of mainstream opinions delivered with an air of absolute authority. Lacking independent political expertise, it is nearly impossible for them to sift through what’s correct and what isn’t. The result is that deceptive storylines and frames are disseminated by trusted news outlets and spread through the national discourse, altering public perceptions and behavior.
Which is how we end up with presidents like George W. Bush and nominees like Donald Trump.