An Open Letter to the National Punditry

Dear Esteemed Pundits of America,

Beck Chalkboard The 2010 mid-term elections are behind us, and all the post-mortem analyses of the races are complete. Yet the 24/7 news cycle, and the corresponding demand for your incisive commentary, will not abate. So, what next? Will you turn your attention to the Congress and examine the ways in which the new House leadership clashes with President Obama? Will you look ahead to 2012 and offer odds on who will be the Republican nominee and how likely he or she is to defeat Obama? Will you continue to discuss the Tea Party in your ongoing attempt to discern who they are, what they want, and whether they matter? Will you investigate the gradual implementation of our healthcare bill and monitor the inevitable dissolution of DADT? Will you be able to sustain your interest in our increasingly quixotic military adventures? Or will you take up a cause you regard as underappreciated among the American people? These are all arguably worth your consideration. But we have a better idea: Resign from your job in broadcasting and run for public office.

We admit that this is a bold suggestion. Perhaps it has never occurred to you to seek political office. But consider how this course of action is required in light of the things you say and how you understand yourselves.

You take yourselves to be public figures committed to keeping the American government in check and on the right track. You offer daily commentary on national politics as a crucial contribution American democracy. You do not merely report the day’s news; indeed, many of you claim that you are not reporters at all. Rather, you claim to be commentators on the news, and you draw a sharp conceptual divide between yourselves and “the mainstream media.” We understand that you must insist on this distinction, for you take one of your central tasks to be that of exposing the media’s biases, distortions, and blind-spots. You understand your job to be that of helping the American citizenry to strip away propaganda, double-talk, and spin. You present the facts, and then you help the American people to understand what they mean. We’re thankful.

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