Why We Need A Revolt Against The Pundits

If the same old politicians are feeling the wrath of voters in this bizarre current election cycle, why are the same old pundits getting a free pass?

We know that people are angry and feeling left out by the establishment politicians, and have channeled that anger toward alternative candidates.

But we haven't spent any time focusing on the establishment talking heads who are telling us that we are tired of the same old politicians, and getting it wrong more often than not. But even when they get it right, it's the same cast of characters telling us.

It's time for a Bernie Sanders-like revolt directed toward the on air and online commentators we see and read day after day.


Because this has been such a chaotic election season, once in a great while one of these pundits will concede he or she knows nothing ("I'm done predicting," offered former Obama advisor and professional talking head David Axelrod, on CNN recently.)

Of course, unlike elections, where we can influence the process with votes, we don't have direct power to demand a new class of punditry. We can complain and send emails and switch channels, and maybe -- though probably not -- even organize a movement to get new voices into the process.

But at the end of the day, these "experts" serve at the pleasure of executives who won't change the roster of players unless ratings tank. And even then, the change will be glacial. (It took MSNBC and Fox years to shake up lineups that were underperforming.)

These executives also make the mistake of believing that just because we watch or read, that means we want to hear the same old voices. And probably some of us do. But I am confident most of us keep watching and reading because those are the choices we are offered, not because we love those choices.

Some of us are no doubt comforted by the overly loud observations of Chris Matthews (why does he need to shout all the time?) or the wise-sounding but frequently inaccurate pronouncements of Karl Rove, or Joe Scarborough (and his benign sidekick Mika Brzezinski, who plays the same sip-your-coffee-and-make-occasional-off-point-comments role that Robin Quivers plays to Howard Stern) telling us things with complete certainty until three days later when he changes his mind -- with the same complete certainty.

(Scarborough called Donald Trump's waffling over the Ku Klux Klan "disqualifying" of his candidacy until Trump's next primary victories convinced him it wasn't so disqualifying after all. You would think disqualifying is a fairly absolute term.)

But some of us are as tired of the same old pundits as we are of the same old pols. As Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker and Jeb Bush and Martin O'Malley and the rest fell by the wayside in recent months, the wise talking heads remained. None of them was fired.

I understand that the consequences of ineffective, establishment punditry are not as dire as the consequences of ineffective, establishment political leadership. And I understand that we can "vote" with our remote controls.

And yes, there are a wider range of voices available to us to read, follow and boo or cheer than just the cable channels or a handful on internet news providers, just as there are alternative and fringe political candidates, and even political parties.

But given the power of the news media, especially the largest of them, getting new voices into the talking heads club will be a steep climb, as long as there are former presidential advisors and former campaign managers and former speechwriters and Pulitzer prize-winning historians and columnists - all of whom are certainly legitimate commentators, but most of whom are by now tired and predictable.


The level of anger toward the pundits is probably not as high as the anger toward politicians, though there is ample polling evidence that people are as or more distrustful of big media than they are of the political class.

I would love to see new faces and hear new voices commenting on the state of affairs in the country. I hope I am not alone in that regard, and think I am not.

How do we find these new voices? They are out there. Many of them. Teaching. Writing. Speaking. Maybe not in the same wells the executives go to time and again, but they are there.

As long as the same talking heads are telling us about a new brand of candidate, we will have addressed only part of the problem.

Will it take a revolt? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe a revolt is just the thing the punditry needs.

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