School of Talk

From the New York Times’ Styles section yesterday (next to the article explaining that “fashionistas” are now to be called “recessionistas”):

Journalists once had to achieve a certain gravitas before appearing on television as a political expert, but not anymore.

No. But it might help, the Times reports, to get some media training at a “pundit school” such as:

the Leadership Institute, a conservative policy group in Arlington, Va., that has given courses in punditry to nearly 600 people this year, up from 461 in 2005. The institute offers various courses, from a $75 basic lecture to a $1,500 three-hour one-on-one session.

What does a pundit-in-training get for that money? Some sort of B.S. in b.s.? He learns how “to avoid questions he doesn’t like,” “to steer a conversation in his direction (by interrupting)” and is counseled to use “more slogans and short phrases (‘flip-flop’ is one that works well).” The Times reports that the students at these Schools of Talk are often young-ish, whereas “the conventional stereotype of a TV pundit is a middle-aged white guy with years of experience (John McLaughlin or Pat Buchanan might come to mind)…”

They might. (75 is the new 45?)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.