A guide to political punditry

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Politics can sometimes seem complicated. There’s so much noise out there, and it’s often hard to know what’s real and what’s spin. Who can we trust? Who’s lying and who’s telling the truth? What does it all mean? And what will happen next?

That’s why we will always need our political pundits and commentators. Experts who can explain for us what’s going on, and what to make of polls and politicians.

With the rise of the internet and social media, nowadays literally anyone can be a pundit. But you’ll have to do some work if you want to rise to the top in this field. Despite what you may think, they don’t give those TV and radio gigs to just anyone. Not everyone has what it takes to be a talking head. Take it from me, as someone who’s been there, done that.

It takes effort to excel in any field of endeavour, and punditry is no exception. But effort not properly focused is effort wasted. Don’t think it’s just a matter of opening your mouth and blathering the first thing that comes to mind (though it’s a good start!)

I want to make life easier for you wannabe pundits. So allow me to share with you some top punditry tips. Try some of these out with your friends or online. You’ll be astonished at how quickly people start taking you seriously.

  • Pretend to be the bearer of inside knowledge. Act as if people in the political camps tell you their secrets. They don’t. Why would they? You’re an idiot who shoots his/her mouth off in public.
  • State the obvious, but make it sound as if you’re telling us something we don’t already know.
  • Never let the facts get in the way of your half-baked opinion. There are no real facts anyway.
  • Tell us what the voters want. You have obviously talked to all of us.
  • Talk about the numbers. Just the numbers that suit your badly thought-out arguments. Ignore the numbers that don’t work for you.
  • Go on and on about the horse race. Who won this, who looked good in that. Avoid talking about anything substantive.
  • Always be wrong. You’re supplying a defective product, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not like you’re giving us anything useful. If you were selling food this bad, you’d have been shut down long ago by council health inspectors. Or convicted on multiple counts of manslaughter.
  • And when you’re proven wrong, don’t worry. No-one can keep track of anything you say, thanks to your hurricane-like levels of hot air.
  • Don’t bother to learn how MMP or our constitutional arrangements work. This is just wasted effort.
  • Disclosure of your numerous conflicts of interest is unnecessary. Don’t fret it. We already worked out that you’re hopelessly compromised.
  • Get to know the other pundits, especially the enemy ones. Eventually you’ll be appearing opposite them on TV and radio. They may be as full of it as you, but you’re all in this together. You can’t have Tweedledee without Tweedledum. There is no left versus right when the microphone’s switched off. Solidarity!
  • When asked a question you don’t know the answer to, just waffle. Make it sound as if you have something to contribute, even though you don’t.
  • Micro-analyse everything, unless it’s something actually important. You can probably find something to say about a politician’s choice of tie or hairdo, or how they delivered their speech (rather than what they said).
  • Sobriety is entirely optional. We will all assume you’re roaring drunk when you write your newspaper columns or blogposts.

I look forward to reading your first New Zealand Herald article!

One thought on “A guide to political punditry

  1. Yes, in our MMP system, the media (and the pundits embedded therin) ignored yet again the fact that we do not have two major parties and a scattering of minor ones, but that we have a number of parties that WILL get over our arbitrarily set 5% party hurdle, and should have the opportunity to join the debate on an equal footing.

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