How I Became a Rich, Famous, and Powerful Pundit

Legendary CBS News Radio Correspondent and Television Commentator Eric Sevareid, “The Voice of Reason.”

Legendary CBS News Radio Correspondent and Television Commentator Eric Sevareid, “The Voice of Reason.”

A question I am often asked is how do I become a pundit like you?

First of all, I explain there are no openings in the field. Already there are far too many pundits. It is my humble considered opinion pundits should be licensed like poets.

If the petitioner persists, I explain it is very hard to become a pundit. You have to study your Hegel and Kant. Read all Henry Kissinger’s books, who we call “Hank.” Eat lots of fresh vegetables, and go to bed early at night.

I guess I wasn’t too encouraging.

In the old days anybody could grow up to be a Walter Lippmann, James (Scotty) Reston, Westbrook Pegler. Whatever.

I chose as the medium for my work as a serious pundit, not newspapers, which all the other pundits were predicting was on its last legs, but The Internet.

The Internet is the perfect venue for punditing today. True, there are approximately 2,687,905 practicing the art of punditry without a license. It seems that everybody is a pundit today.

But I digress. I myself reached the pinnacle of journalistic achievement by watching the TV news. My hero growing up was Eric Sevareid, the pundit-in-residence at CBS News, circa 1970.

He was the apostle of dealing even-handedly on any controversial subject. He was so balanced, we called him Eric Severalsides. He would give both sides of an issue, even when there were three or more, and end with a “You decide.”

Some day I hope to be as respected as Eric Severalsides.

The ideal basic training for my later role as one of the nation‘s leading pundits (2,687,905 at last count) was serving as a TV critic. For 35 years at Newsday, I stuck my neck out making judgments on the nation’s most important issues. What did I think of “Laverne & Shirley” or news shows like “ Jerry Springer?”

I still remember getting a letter from a fan of my work.

Dear Mister Know It All:

How dare you say “Laverne & Shirley” was the worst thing to happen on TV since the invention of commercials? It’s only your opinion, you rat fink Jew commie kike bastard.”

Anon.

Dear Sir or Madam, I would patiently explain, if I didn’t have an opinion as a critic I would be fired.

Yours, Rat Fink Jew Commie Kike Bastard.

Still it pained. You need to develop the skin of a rhinoceros to survive in this line of work.

There was more to it than calling them as you see them in TV criticism. And they didn’t call me Four Eyes for nothing!

You needed to come up with original concepts that said something more meaningful than just thumbs up or down.

My most important contribution was Kitman’s Law: On the TV screen, pure drivel tends to drive off ordinary drivel.

I also was the first to predict that cable prices will always rise.

So it was only natural after stepping down from the seat of power as an arbiter of taste – as I explained to my readers in 2005, “Newsday gave me an audition in 1969 and after 35 years we mutually decided it wasn’t working out”—that I should turn to a life of crime as a pundit pundit! No longer could I hide behind a medium like television, which as pundit Fred Allen once said years ahead of his time (1950),“TV is called a medium because nothing is well done.”

What’s great about The Internet: there are no fact-checkers. Everything carries equal weight: facts, true facts, alternative facts, and no facts, the president’s favorite kind.

Should you be challenged as a pundit, your defense can be: the facts are accurate. I made them up myself.

Of course, you have no idea who actually hears you as you cast your pearls of wisdom at the swine, I mean, Internet news junkies.

Still it’s a lot better than going up to the roof of your high-rise and yelling at the wind. Or becoming one of those bores at dinner or cocktail parties who wouldn’t shut up about Trump or Bernie.

Enough of giving away my trade secrets. It’s bad enough I’m not getting paid here for spilling the beans about my craft.

Should anyone want to know more, you could always enroll in my Famous Pundits School of Westport, Conn. Our school motto is: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

In the meanwhile, you can learn more about modern punditry in action at marvinkitman.com.

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Marvin Kitman,
Oct. 15, 2018
 

Portions of this transmission previously appeared in the Silurian News.

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Making of the Preƒident 1789.” “George Washington’s Expense Account” by Gen. George Washington and Marvin Kitman PFC (Ret.) was the best-selling expense account in publishing history.