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Are There No Standards for Punditry? | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Are There No Standards for Punditry?

Editor's Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel's column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read all of Katrina's column here.

Last Sunday, ABC’S This Week turned to none other than Donald Rumsfeld, the former Bush administration defense secretary, to get his informed judgment of the mission in Libya. Last month, the journal International Finance featured former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan commenting on what is “hampering” the economic recovery.

Fox News trumped even that, trotting out retired Marine Col. Oliver North, the former Reagan security staffer who orchestrated the secret war in Nicaragua, to indict President Obama for—you can’t make this stuff up—failing to get a Congressional resolution in support of the mission in Libya.

Next we’ll see a cable talk show inviting the former head of BP to tell us what it takes to do offshore drilling safely.

Are there no standards whatsoever for punditry? Do high government or corporate officials suffer no consequence for leading us into calamity? Public officials who have failed spectacularly in office should have the common decency to retire in disgrace. But even if modern-day officials know no shame, why in the world would opinion pages, network talk shows and reputable journals give them a forum to offer their opinions, when they have shown that their advice isn’t worth the air it disturbs?

On ABC, Rumsfeld criticized Obama for “confusion” in the Libyan mission, noting that the coalition "is the smallest in modern history."

Editor's Note: Read all of Katrina's column here.

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