pundit, communications homework help




Click on the following link and read the “Pundit” article. Chapter 5 Pundits.docx or Pundit.pdf

Answer the following question(s)

Despite what viewers say they want, how well does the pundit debate style serve our democracy? What would Thomas Jefferson—who said, “Information is the currency of democracy”—think of Bill O’Reilly? How would John F. Kennedy—who said, “The ignorance of the voter in a democracy impairs the security of all”—grade Keith Olbermann? And what must Jesse Jackson—who said, “A full and fair discussion is essential to democracy”—make of the talk-show round tables he participates in, where guests interrupt, fail to listen, and insult other guests? Fair and balanced? You decide.

Discussion Expectations:

  • Divide your answers into their parts. Use bold headlines to separate the unique parts of each answer and complete the answer under the headline.
  • Include references to your text. These references must include APA citations.
  • Include personal observations, experiences, thoughts, examples and/or opinions related to the cited information.



Pundit “Debates”: The Lost Art of Listening and the Future of Civil Democratic Discourse in America During their August 2009 recess, members of the U.S. Congress returned to their home states amidst partisan wrangling over health care reform. Many of them held town hall meetings, allowing citizens to debate the government’s proposed changes to the health care system. They were shocked to encounter citizens shouting at one another and at their elected representatives, refusing to listen to explanations and differing points of view. But could this situation have been predicted given the steady diet of what now passes for “debate” on televised news and opinion programs? Today, the uncivil discourse spouted by television’s self-proclaimed pundits is so widespread that comedian Stephen Colbert created a TV show, The Colbert Report, devoted entirely to satirizing them. Mimicking real cable TV hosts, Colbert frequently interrupts his guests, manipulates data, and has the unshakeable faith that his opinions are always right. One of the first and most popular of these pundits is Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly’s aggressive pundit style has been widely copied by others such as Lou Dobbs on CNN, Nancy Grace on Headline News, and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Taken as a group, these TV talk show hosts are influencing a generation of Americans, whose only exposure to the concept of democratic debate is informed by these programs. But news programming that features in-depth interviews and discussion about policy issues is not new. In 1945, Meet the Press debuted as a radio show, providing discussion and debate among public officials and other policy experts about the issues of the day. The program migrated to the NBC television network in 1947 and has been broadcast continuously ever since. In its original format, Meet the Press was considered part of NBC’s public information programming, featuring a government official or a prominent expert who was quizzed by a panel of well-known journalists. These discussions were moderated by the host of the show, also a respected journalist. This format changed in the early 1990s, when journalist and lawyer Tim Russert began hosting the show. Under the new format, Russert interviewed the guests alone, and a panel of people with opposing viewpoints discussed the interview. Russert was known for ambushing his guests on air, confronting them with statements they’d made in the past that differed from their current views and asking them to reconcile the differing positions. In addition, the show’s panels are often populated by the same combative pundits who appear on other TV news and opinion talk shows. As a result, Meet the Press often succumbs to uncivil discourse characterized by interruptions, talk-overs, and the demeaning of those who hold opposing views. There are two reasons why public information programs meant to educate us about important issues have become “gotcha” scream-fests. First, such shows are profitable for TV networks because the costs to produce them are relatively low—they don’t require writers or elaborate sets, and guests receive no compensation for sharing their opinions. Second, viewers like edginess. Professor Dale Harrison of Auburn University explains, “Rants add passion to news events and inspire people to take sides on issues”. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. As journalist James Maguire points out, as far back as 80 B.C., Roman philosopher Cicero speculated that people are more convinced by pathos (emotion) than by logos (logic). Professor Harrison acknowledges the effectiveness of pathos, saying, “That’s not all bad, as long as viewers are skeptical about the facts presented on TV rants and balance their media diet with more reliable sources of facts and information”. But with newspaper circulation dropping precipitously, more Americans are getting their news from TV sources, often choosing those whose ideological bent mirrors their own. As a result, they are less likely to be exposed to valid arguments made by people with opposing views. Furthermore, as explored in a presentation by Diana Mutz, Byron Reeves, and Kevin Wise at an annual meeting of the International Communication Association, experiments show that although viewers are more likely to remember the main emphasis of the arguments in less civil debates, they are also less likely to remember the actual arguments underlying the positions. Compared to more civil debate, viewers are also less likely to remember the arguments that are opposed to their own opinion. Sources: Colapinto, J. (2006, August 11). Mad dog. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/6417561/mad_dog; Farhi, P. (2009, February 19). Political pundits, overpopulating the news networks. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/02/18/AR2008021802267.html; Hau, L. (2008, April 28). Timber! Newspaper circulation falls again. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/28/newspapers-circulation-advertising-biz-mediacx_lh_0428newspapers.html; Johnson, P. (2006, September 24). Cable rantings boost ratings. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/life/columnist/mediamix/2006-09-24-media-mix_x.htm; Maguire, J. (2007, February 22). Cicero’s rules of rhetoric and our own shout-fest. Maguire Online. Retrieved from http://www.maguireonline.com/2007/02/ciceros_rules_of_rhetoric_and.php; Mutz, D., Reeves, B., & Wise, K. (2003, May 27). Exposure to mediated political conflict: Effects of civility of interaction on arousal and memory. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Diego, CA. Retrieved from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p111574_index.html
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