“As Thomas Jefferson once famously said, ‘So-called global warming is just a giant wad of liberal crap.’”

So writes Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post’s Resident Imp, by way of advising the posse of prospective pontificaters who have applied to become “America’s Next Great Pundit.” (Rule #2: “It’s okay to lie a little.”)

Puntestants should also, Weingarten confides, be prepared to Play to the Crowd (Rule #1: “You need to give the public what it wants, not what it needs”); Keep the ‘Hype’ in ‘Hyperbole’; and, generally, crystallize a confusing world down to its existential essence—ideally, with the help of at least twelve Pieces of Flair.

And yet: pundits must also approach their work with the humility demanded of the responsibility they bear to shape and color our national discourse. Thus:

Wrong: “Barack Obama was not born in America but in Kenya, in the town of Hulubagala, in a sturdy hut made of mud, straw and giraffe bones.”

Right: “Barack Obama was not born in America but in Kenya, in the town of Hulubagala, in a sturdy hut made of mud, straw and giraffe bones, I reckon.”

Yes, indeed. And, with that, folks, the contest is over. America’s Next Great Pundit is…Gene Weingarten.


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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.