Pundits No, Everyday Citizens Yes
Editor's Note: In the old days, it might have made sense to highlight the seasoned judgment of some experienced journalist. But now with 24/7 cable news and the ubiquitous pundit shows, it's often obvious that the talking heads are talking nonsense.
This punditry helped guide the United States into today's disaster in Iraq and often confuses, rather than elucidates, the national debate. In this guest essay, writer Mary MacElveen suggests that the Big Media could do no worse – and might do a lot better – in giving voice to everyday Americans:
Turn on any news program in which political pundits are interviewed and what you will hear from a great majority of them is that Americans changed the direction of this country this past Election Day.
At the end of 2006, even Time Magazine chose ‘You’ as the person of the year in which a mirror was put on the front cover, so that the reader could see themselves as being the very one that did in fact change our course.
One columnist I know who writes for several major newspapers stated in an e-mail to me that Time Magazine was “pandering to its readers” because of “sluggish sales”. While at first I was disturbed at hearing that opinion, one only has to look within their magazine and others to see that the same old pundits and writers are speaking out and not everyday Americans.
Maybe the great majority of Americans do not know how to write, but hey, that is what editors and proof readers are for. Come on, Time Magazine; let ordinary Americans have their own columns. I for one would like to hear of their interesting stories.
The same can be said of every single news program in which pundits are put in front of the camera as if they are speaking for the American people. I suppose there must be some central green room in which they sit and told what show they will be interviewed on. No, in reality there is no central green room, but it sure seems that way, doesn’t it?
All of them will be interviewed based upon the hot topic of the day and many of them will re-hash past points. It can give one a migraine as one watches these pundits that the American story itself is not being told or conveyed to the listening audience.
Many of these pundits as they are being interviewed by various hosts will scream above each other and interrupt each other and one feels like screaming “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore” That was the line shouted out the window by Peter Finch in the movie ‘Network.’
At times, it leaves the viewer frustrated that these pundits just do not get it. They do not get what life is really like out here in America.
Americans by and large may not have the pedigree when it comes to education and experience that these pundits have, but their everyday experience should be equally heralded. A great majority of Americans never went to Yale or Harvard to become lawyers and politicians and they never went to these schools to become journalists.
Americans just got up each and every day, put one foot in front of another and built productive lives for the most part. Yet you really do not hear what they have to say when it comes to affairs that are important to this country.
In this past election, two senators were elected that I feel were truly representative of the American voice and there names are Senator Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Senator Jim Webb, D-Virginia. I do think that those who voted for these two men saw a bit of themselves and wanted true representation within Washington, D.C.
Senator Tester was a farmer and Senator Webb was a member of the military. Some even saw President George W. Bush as being one of them back in the 2000 presidential election in which the media tagged him as the ‘likeable candidate’. But unbeknownst to all, that he was not like the rest of us. But, it was effective.
I do think that our life would be far more interesting if these news talk shows were to have steelworkers from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Wouldn’t you love to hear their take on how jobs have been lost within America?
Let us hear what the coal miners living in West Virginia have to say especially when it comes to their grievances against this government for ignoring their plight.
A good friend of mine John Schwam has written of their plight and I think that any major news show should give him equal air time. It would make for interesting TV. Should you wish to read his writings on this subject, just go to TheLiberalPatriot.org Web site.
I would love to hear from Americans living in Detroit, Michigan which has produced more of the automobiles that Americans drive around in today. Let us hear what they have to say as tens of thousands of jobs have been lost to all of them. That would certainly be must see TV.
One can envision many politicians just slinking down in their seats in total humiliation and embarrassment.
Wouldn’t you like to hear of what other mothers of lost sons are saying of this war and not only Cindy Sheehan? No, this is not to denigrate the good work that she has done, but I want to hear from other moms, dads, wives, sisters and brothers.
I would especially love to hear from the children. Please remember that these children will be growing up without their mothers and fathers.
In the first 100 days, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi plans on implementing many of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Perhaps some of these television news shows can interview those that lost loved ones on that horrific day.
Wouldn’t you love to see those four wives interviewed who Ann Coulter called “witches” in her book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism”? The media gave Coulter hours upon hours while wearing that same old black dress. Really, Ann, you must have something else to wear in that closet of yours.
We have been engaged in this war on terrorism, but we have forgotten these women’s voices. After all, 9/11 started us on this worldwide war which led President Bush into invading Iraq albeit illegally.
A while back, Newsday did a series on how the fish populations of our oceans are being affected by global warming and as a Long Islander; I would love to hear the opinions of the bay men out east.
Billy Joel once wrote a song of their plight, but what is their economic plight today and into the future if we do not get a hold of this catastrophic surge called global warming.
In closing my challenge to not only these news programs and the print medium is to elevate the message of everyday Americans by having them on your programs and representative within the print medium.
I do think that the American people by and large are a resilient people and would be more interesting to listen to instead of the same old political pundits. They may not have the political and journalistic experience, but their experience did change the course of politics within Washington, D.C.
Mary MacElveen is a Long Island-based writer whose work appears at her blog http://marymacelveen.com, at other Internet sites and occasionally in her local newspaper, the North Shore Sun.
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