By Ben Cohen
(Cross posted in the Huff Post)
Journalists have to make a living. I understand that. I get paid to
interview athletes and write opinion pieces on mixed martial arts and
boxing. It is something I love in part because it is not too serious.
Occasionally, I write about issues pertaining to the exploitation of
athletes and corruption within the sports, but the truth is, the market
does not really cater for it and I usually focus on analysis of the
actual sport. And that's fine. I don't have problems sleeping at night.
But when it comes to serious issues like politics, the market
becomes less important to me. Corruption and exploitation on a mass
scale by our politicians and institutions is not something I can
trivialize, and I am not willing to sell out and follow mainstream
hacks to get a paycheck.
Every time I switch on the TV, I get upset when political hacks beat
irrelevant issues to death, and generally discredit the profession they
are supposed to be a part of. There are some I can tolerate (Chuck Todd
for example is a hack, but very good at his job), and a few that really
irritate me for a variety of reasons. It seems to me that the worst
journalists are the ones who clearly know better, who have the
intelligence to see through the insanity of corporate news, but
continue to do it anyway. And that brings me to the ubiquitous but
inconspicuous A.B Stoddard.
Who is A.B Stoddard, you might ask?
A regular on the now canceled Tucker Carlson Show, Stoddard
was a former congressional reporter for The Hill, and has appeared as a
pundit on all the major news networks. She writes a column for The Hill
and takes herself very, very seriously. And this irritates me beyond
Stoddard puts on an air of authority whenever on television,
scrutinizing political issues in minute detail and offering expert
analysis of every phrase, gaffe and speech. Stoddard has an impressive
resume and certainly looks the part. But when you look at her work,
there is nothing resembling critical thought, serious analysis or
insight. Stoddard has essentially made a living analyzing superficial
An example of her insights into Hillary Clinton from last year:
"OK, so now she's getting rapped for not tipping a waitress
when she said she really did, and so today I feel sorry for Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But how did the gender card play with
you? It has been a whole 48 hours since the week-long story of Clinton
as victim of the big boys, getting eaten up at a debate by those big
mean boys.....I agree with what Tucker Carlson said on his MSNBC show
this week, that Clinton's strength is her strength."
"Clinton's strength is her strength" ?? -- regurgitating Tucker
Carlson phraseology really does take punditry to a new low. Stoddard
also has a series of Q and A videos on
The Hill, pontificating on issues important to only the most ardent
political junkies. I tried to find anything resembling real journalism,
like coming out against the war, or interesting opinion pieces on
economic issues, but could find nothing - just a long record of opinion
journalism on meaningless campaign issues and politicking. If anyone
can find anything, please email me and I'll happily link to it.
The point is not to pick on Stoddard, but to make a larger reference
to media punditry. mainstream journalists and pundits helped sell two
illegal wars, ignored economic issues until it became a crisis, and are
saying nothing about saber rattling against Iran. They get paid well to
do it, and continue to regard themselves as real journalists.
They are not.
Real journalists stand up to power rather than cozy up to it. Real
journalists focus on issues that matter to regular people rather than
political junkies. Real journalists don't say things like "Clinton's
strength is her strength."
Relentless analysis of meaningless campaign strategies and political
ploys cannot be regarded as real journalism. It is pure and
unadulterated hackery, and only serves to foster rating wars between
media conglomerates. If Stoddard was the only pundit of her kind, her
analysis might actually be interesting. But she only does what EVERY
other 'political analyst' in the mainstream media does, and not
I have a suggestion for Stoddard. She is clearly an intelligent
woman with some analytical capability, and could probably find another
subject to ply her trade in. It could be sports, cultural issues or
lifestyle, anything that doesn't have an effect on meaningful issues.
Otherwise, all she is doing is aiding political apathy, trivializing debate and making a mockery of serious journalism.