David Frum

10.08.12

What Can Punditry Do?

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Ta-Nehisi Coates gives some well-deserved kudos to his colleague James Fallows, whose lengthy piece on Romney's debating prowess looks really good after Wednesday's debate. (Fallows' article reminded me of the Babe calling his shot). TNC then zooms out, describing this as something punditry does well.

Pundits take a lot of (well-deserved) heat for holding forth on television with poorly conceived predictions. Very few of these people are in the business of gathering information, of reporting, of researching, of listening at least much as they talk. I think it's worth pointing out that our house debate pundit (if Jim doesn't bristle at the term) built his piece by watching hours of tape of Romney and Obama, then talking to people who knew them both, and then balancing that with his own personal experience.

The result was a piece that wasn't just prescient about the danger that Romney posed, but was prescient about that danger at a point when very few people were saying that Romney was dangerous, and was prescient on the specifics of what made the debate perilous for Obama. Frankly even if Jim had been totally wrong, I still think the piece would have worth it. The job of the pundit shouldn't be simply to get it right, but have to produce an honest and informed opinion.