Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Atlantic's Prize Pundit Playlist Puzzling

What do Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, and Charles Krauthammer have in common?

True, they are all annoying, but that's not what "TUOL" meant.  These print and/or broadcast pundits, along with The New York Times' columnists Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, and Thomas Friedman, The Washington Post's George Will, and The Atlantic's hometown favorite Andrew Sullivan comprise the top 10 members of "The Atlantic 50"--the nation's most influential commentators who shape national debate, in the lofty estimation of the magazine (

To arrive at the list, the magazine surveyed 250 Washington "insiders," compiled and analyzed data gauging each commentator's audience, and partnered with Postrank, a company that filters social media data. There's political balance on the list. What's troubling, however, is the expanded view toward what constitutes a journalist/commentator/pundit.  Karl Rove, who occasionally seeks sanctuary in the editorial pages of  The Wall St. Journal when not dodging Grand Jury subpoenas? Glenn Beck, the weepy, self-professed "rodeo clown" who besmirches the good name of rodeo jesters everywhere?

When did the "best and the brightest" get supplanted by the "loudest and the dumbest"?

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