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Posted by on Jul 1, 2011 in Media, Politics | 3 comments

The (Flawed) Certainty of Talking Heads on TV

At the outset let me say it: I have long been a big fan of Mark Halperin as talking head, blogger and writer. Even so, his indefinite suspension is dredging up all kinds of partisan reactions. Some Dems wrongly suggest he was put on suspension because he offended Barack Obama. Some Repubs wrongly suggest that MSNBC allows that kind of language on its broadcasts all along and allowed it to be used on Bush. WRONG. And I repeat: he is a big boy, has a status far above a reporter and hurt his credibility and the image of the corporations that give him checks by his choice of language. He knows what newspaper and broadcast standards are. And, if it was a joke, theoretically he is of a higher status than to act like a junior high school student playing around with a closed-circuit TV feed.

But to me the bigger issue remains the concept of the conventional wisdom, how it emerges and takes hold and is then quietly swept under the rug when it’s wrong. Or how pundits on TV state with such absolute certainty that things are going to happen which prove to be wrong. Is it because of flawed analysis? Do personal political prisms cloud judgment? If you watch these shows you see a parade of daily and weekly certainty but when certain events doesn’t materialize you never hear about it. It’s on to the next certainty.

Here’s one involving Halperin via TPM. Just note the certainty with which the talking heads and Halperin in particular speak:

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