Punditry gone awry
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - May 31, 2020 - 12:00am

Punditry, of course, has its legitimate value and purpose in our life. It facilitates our knowledge of things in areas unfamiliar to us, since they aren’t our fields of specialization and yet they also are relevant to us. It clarifies things for us, and helps us in forming our own opinions, decisions, and choices. It’s actually a great service to society.

In politics, for example, which is important to our collective life and where developments can occur in warp speed, punditry can be very helpful since we can avail of expert opinions from those closely following and studying its twists and turns. I appreciate those who are into this business, since they’re actually doing a very complicated job, sorting out complex issues for us.

We just have to be careful in distinguishing between a good and enlightening punditry, on the one hand, and a rotten one, on the other, that’s full of rigid biases and prejudices. Especially in the most delicate field of politics, we should be able to keenly distinguish between the two, since every pundit will always try his best to be very attractive, to sound very objective and fair, when in fact they’re the opposite.

During these stay-home days, I had the chance to go through the opinions of several talking head and opinion-makers in the American political scene. As a priest, I don’t indulge in partisan politics, but that doesn’t prevent me from following the political developments, since this field of human endeavor, just like any other, also needs to be evangelized, humanized, and Christianized.

In fact, politics’ need for evangelization, humanization, and Christianization should be more keenly felt since it involves the whole society in a very direct way. Even if politics only has a temporal purpose, it definitely has spiritual and moral dimensions that need to be taken care of. It’s for this latter reason that I follow and study the political developments here and everywhere else.

What I can say about the punditry in the American political scene is that it has really gone awry. The pundits are sharply divided and polarized to such an extent that, to my mind, each party thinks he exclusively holds what is objective and fair for everyone and the other side has none whatsoever.

They’re quick to find fault with the other. Bashing, sowing intrigues, resorting to all sorts of fallacies and red herrings now seem to be the main focus of their work. They can even go so low as to get into insults, mockeries and all kinds of “ad hominem” arguments. And all this is being supported by big and powerful communication outfits!

Even pundits whose views I find more reasonable, aren’t exempt from some irregular practices. Of course, they can always rationalize that if those in the opposite side resort to below-the-belt tactics, why shouldn’t they? All is fair in love and war.

But that shouldn’t be the case. Difficult, if not impossible, as it seems, we just have to make political punditry human and Christian. It shouldn’t be field for a free-for-all approach. It’s true that in this life, we’re told to learn how to be wise, shrewd, and clever like serpents. But such traits should always be accompanied if not inspired by the simplicity and innocence of doves. (cfr. Mt 10,16)

Pundits should realize more deeply that to do their job well they have to have a strong spiritual life, a life of close relationship with God. Only then can they do their punditry in truth and charity. It’s when they rely only on some ideologies that they actually downgrade the quality of their job and mission in society.

To be truly good pundits, not only should they be good technically. More important is that they be truly good persons and children of God!

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