Op-Ed of the Day: The punditry pivot

Michael Kinsley dissects the election year punditry cycle in a column for the Los Angeles Times.

There are two punditry modes, Kinsley claims. The first, pre-election, is about details and minutiae:

Political journalists compete to display their expertise. The ultimate goal is to find the one person, probably in Ohio, whose vote — through a series of complicated and subtle developments involving the electoral college, “super PACs” and tracking polls for each election cycle — will determine the result.

We are in the midst of the second part of the cycle:

Whereas before the election, the goal of punditry was to narrow the group of people who are responsible for the result (citizens of Ohio, soccer moms, undecided voters, black Republicans, Irish Catholics in Iowa and so on), after the election the goal is to produce a theory that implicates the entire nation, or indeed the world and known universe in the result, whatever it may be. And it matters even less whether you are right or wrong than it did before the election. Whether you’re right or wrong won’t be known for at least 100 years or so anyway.

Are you exhausted by punditry? Did the media do a good job covering this presidential campaign and election season? That’s our topic tomorrow at 11.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Craig

    Many pundits seem like sports commentators, providing the viewer with a companion who will heighten the action, share joy, console losses, and make observations that resonate or fascinate. Their goal is to be preferred by some set of viewers.

    If a pundit’s target market is made up of those who are hungry for companionship, those who have few or hebetudinous friends, it’s difficult to complain about their specious analysis.

    And I should say, I appreciate the fact that MPR prefers hesitant academics to cocksure pundits.