You, Too, Can Be a TV Pundit!
Slate‘s Jack Shafer offers tips for those aspiring to be television pundits. Particularly useful:
The toughest part of the job is developing the ability to reduce everything in the news to the party’s latest talking points. Make sure to get yourself on your party’s e-mail lists or otherwise learn the correct line. The booker will test your skills at assembling a one-sentence, easily digested sound-bite in the pre-interview. Treat the pre-interview as an audition for a part in a continuing TV drama, because it is. “Clinton was worse on this than Bush” or its opposite is a perfectly acceptable answer to almost any question. Don’t try expressing an original thought on TV or otherwise upstaging the host, or he’ll never invite you back. Remember, it’s his show and you’re just the replaceable talent.
And no matter what you do, don’t answer pre-interview questions with the preface, “It’s very complicated.” TV isn’t the place for complicated discussions of politics. Save your learned dissertation for that 500-word newspaper op-ed you’re hoping to place in USA Today.
Quite right. Sadly, I’ve yet to master this skill.