Credentialed, not competent

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 20, 2011

Two bits of stupidity from the mainstream media today. First MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer:

Two things.

First, many of you are familiar with the rule commonly stated by lawyers that Brewer violated here: Never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to. But there’s another rule that I’ve told every aspiring journalist I’ve ever met: Yes, there are such things as stupid questions. Brewer violated both.

Second, as many have noted, Brewer doesn’t have an economics degree either. Should this fact bar her from expressing an opinion on the subject? (Maybe that too is a stupid question.) If Rep. Mo Brooks had lacked an economics degree, would that’ve made his opinion less valid? Does the fact that he does have one make his opinion more unassailable?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m reading Tim Groseclose’s “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind” and Groseclose has a term for Brewer and her ilk: alpha intellectual. An alpha intellectual is someone who is well-informed and well-read but only within the bounds of their socio-political cocoon. Brewer had obviously never encountered someone like Brooks because he and his views are outside her realm of experience. Greater ideological diversity within newsrooms would save the likes of Brewer from similar mistakes in the future. But don’t expect to see it happen.

The second item is this (unintentionally) hilarious piece over at the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Newspaper that Said “No” to Murdoch

Thirty years ago, the Buffalo Courier-Express took a stand

Murdoch demanded substantial staff cuts in the newsroom, and wanted the power to decide who would go and who would stay. Giving Murdoch that kind of leverage seemed wrong to the vast majority of the 250 guild members who crowded into the Statler Hotel that night to vote on Murdoch’s final offer. The guild wanted the rule of “last hired, first fired” to prevail.

Read the whole thing (and the comments). Thirty years later they’re patting themselves on the backs and Buffalo has only one newspaper. More than a 1,000 people lost their jobs, but they stood up to someone they disagree with politically (or do they?).

I often end these sorts of posts with a little 3-word closing statement. Never before has it been more appropriate.

Journalism. Wound. Self-inflicted.

3 comments on “Credentialed, not competent”

  1. Brewer's world "what if": Economics credentialled Rep. Brooks opines one way and a second similarly degreed guest another. Would opposing conclusions constitute an editorial tie, a neutralizing of each opinion, or a hands-down win by any person disagreeing with a Republican?

    1. That's really irrelevant to the point I was making, but the answer is: It's debatable. Brewer wasn't really interested in the congressman's opinion at that point, she wanted to score a cheap debating point. That would be fine if she was a commentator or economist, but she's supposed to be a journalist.


SEN. LANKFORD: "Can you help me get a good definition of 'birthing people?'"

BECERRA: "We're trying to be precise in the language that's used."

SEN. LANKFORD: "Mom is a pretty good word. That's worked for a while."

Ummm...who elected her? Is there something wrong with the guy we did elect? What do we pay the FLOTUS? A "United States government official"?

Jill Biden@FLOTUS

Prepping for the G7.

One of the most frightening articles I've ever read.

So, @SLOTribune columnist and local Democratic party apparatchik Tom Fulks was on local radio last night and told listeners that the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties is that the Democratic Party wants to help people and the GOP wants to hurt people 1/

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July 2011



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