Mass Media and the Age of Pundits

IMAGE SOURCE: ediablo.com

IMAGE SOURCE: ediablo.com

By ANITA STEWART 

So just what is a “pundit?” Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives he following definition for the word “pundit:” a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and who expresses ideas and opinions about that subject publicly (such as by speaking on television and radio shows).

But that is not necessarily true. More often than not, the pundits we see on TV or hear on the radio are not experts or even knowledgeable about the topics they are discussing. There is no system of accreditation. These people may or may not be degreed. They are not vetted by anyone except the corporate media hacks at the networks they are working for.

Twitterverse

The Twitter Universe exploded in all kinds of mockery and satire yesterday regarding comments made by a self proclaimed “Terrorist Expert” and “Pundit” Steve Emerson while guesting on Judge Jeannine Pirro’s show on Fox News. In response to this broadcast, the expressed outrage and the crazy, satirical and hilarious comments that people posted about Emerson’s diatribe rolled out on the Twitter feed non-stop. They can be found by going to Twitter and searching for all posts under the hashtag of #foxnewsfacts.

Fox News “Facts”

Emerson spoke about NO GO ZONES all through Europe in various cities where Muslim communities are located and people that are not Muslim cannot enter. He mentioned Sharia Law and then Judge Pirro said this must be the institution of a “caliphate.” Emerson then stated that the entire city of Birmingham, England was a NO GO ZONE. The citizens of Birmingham were probably quite surprised to learn this about their city! And to set the matter straight, Birmingham’s Muslim population is at 22%. No one has confirmed the existence of NO GO ZONES in European cities. These comments resulted in tons of fallout. 

Fallout

This led the Prime Minster of England, David Cameron to say that he choked on his porridge and thought these statements were some kind of April Fool’s Day joke.

Slimy Background

Just who is Steve Emerson? Many media big wigs have endorsed this guy and there are testimonials on his website! He was actually discredited way back in 2010 by John F. Sugg and Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing in Tampa after the Professor Sami al-Arian case. For those of you that don’t remember, this was a huge international case that got a lot of media attention after the tenured Professor, Sami al-Arian was fired from the University of South Florida for supposedly having Palestinian sympathies and was accused of being a terrorist.

Professor al-Arian was then was indicted, convicted and ended up doing State and Federal jail time. In all reality, he has became a political prisoner tied up by bureaucracy and red tape, one of the first casualties of the crack down after 911. All the crimes that the Professor was accused of would not hold water when brought up in  Federal Court. And the Professor has done years of jail time, spent time in solitary, has been withheld medical care and much more for crimes that could cannot be proven. He and his family have suffered horribly because of Emerson’s accusations. And currently all charges have been dropped.

During the Sami al-Arian case it was revealed that Steve Emerson had connections to Israel’s ultra right wing Likud Party. Did they pay Emerson back then? Are they paying him now to present an anti-Muslim view?

So Emerson has had a slimy reputation for a long time yet to this day the corporate media continues to let him spout off untruths based on his fantasy world or some other entity’s control of the narrative and they pay him to do this. Emerson is just one of the many pundits we are hearing on the airwaves!

Opinions Or News Or Programming?

These pundits might look good on camera and may be able to “baffle with bullshit” on a huge scale, but beyond that, the corporate networks are using these people and paying them to present opinions and not news. A very good question to ask is whose opinions are they representing? Well, whomever is paying them, of course. Average salaries for these pundits are between $25,000 to $80,000 or more a year. And some of the network star pundits on the left or the right make into the millions.

There is no question that we, the members of the listening audience who are hearing these “Talking Heads,” can be very influenced by what they say. Is this brainwashing on a major scale? They don’t call these on-air segments “programs” for nothing.

How does this kind of “punditry” affect elections, both local, county, state, federal? Are we hearing, viewing, reading the truth about the candidates we vote for? Remember that smear campaigns are paid for too. We have to be mindful of this during the 2016 election cycle.

So when people listen to these pundits on air, do they really know if these people are scholars, analysts or have the authority to speak as experts on a particular topic? Do they do their research to find out? Probably not. Shouldn’t everyone view or hear the news with a healthy dose of skepticism before taking what is said as fact? And what about critical thinking and cognitive dissonance? Our only other option is to turn it all off.

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