How Our Black Punditry Has Failed Us

How Our Black Punditry Has Failed Us


The number of Black American commenters we see on cable television and in social media appear to have mushroomed over the past four years. Reminds me of the surging interest in golf when Tiger Woods hit the greens as a professional well over a decade ago. The punditry has seen increases in the mouth pieces that represent the left and the right of the political spectrum. Cable “news” organizations have built their following along the lines of the Great Political Divide and Black commentators have been adding to the fuel.

The problem is that Black folk have been hurt in the process.

Notice I put the word “news” in parentheses. Pundits don’t present neutral, fact-based information. Admittedly that is the job of journalists. We should expect punditry commentary to be spun left or right. The individuals you see on CNN, FOX, CNBC, or MSNBC are issue advocates and present their version of the good society; the best political world. That’s all well and good. We are not a monolithic people and in a pluralistic society we should appreciate diverse voices and variant views. What we should also expect is that our Black commentators do a better job defining the concepts presented in their issues.

For example, when was the last time your favorite talking head took thirty seconds to define the term “economy”? Granted economics is viewed as a complex issue, but does a discussion on the economy marinated in the “us against them” narrative educate a media consumer who is interested in learning more about their economic environment versus a rehash of whether President Bush was really to blame for the last downturn?

Or when was the last time a commentator took a minute to really explain why gas prices are falling at the pump and why that is not necessarily a good thing? Instead we get either the spin from the left (falling prices show the President’s policies are working) or the spin from the right (the economy is improving in spite of the person sitting in the Oval Office). Would be nice for a change to see our commentators take an informed, centrist approach to these issues rather than choose the path of the most entertainment value.

Should we expect a change in approach should Governor Mitt Romney succeed President Obama next January? Probably not. If anything the positioning may be just as intense and the need for Black press just as important as Black Americans assess the impact a Romney Administration may have on the economy and the social justice gains of the community.

Just hope the pundits are prepared to explain it all.


  1. You of all people should know there's no such thing as having a "neutral" opinion.

    Then again, judging by your writings, maybe not.

    Commercial news in the U.S. has been overtaken by op-eds and embedded press releases that just barely qualify as journalism; being one example of this trend. But partisanship, bias, and prejudice have always been accepted components of punditry, and punditry has long been accepted as a legitimate form of journalism. Within that context, there are opinions informed by genuine research by their authors and, unfortunately, opinions seemingly created from wholecloth. The fact that we're discussing commercial news shouldn't go unrecognized, because these media outlets are intended for making profits for their investors and owners. The bottom line is really what counts at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc., not public service.

    For you to paint all pundits with a broadstroke as "failing" African-Americans is hyperbolic and irresponsible. There are those who do their homework well enough to speak knowledgeably on a given subject, perhaps as a political insider. media's integrity