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Pick Me! I'll Call Bush A Nazi!

(AP / CBS)
Want to be a cable news pundit? You might want to "become the master of the confrontational sound bite." Don't say things like "[o]n the one hand, on the other hand"; instead, repeat the same partisan phrases over and over, even in your online writing.

This morning the Wall Street Journal introduces readers to the striving pundit class. The view ain't pretty. "Some try to break out of the blogs by repeating particular phrases in their written rants, designed to pop their sites up when TV bookers search for keywords online. Others are buying air time on AM and Internet radio stations to practice their punditry. And many are turning to media advisers or partisan training programs, where they learn new rules of engagement, such as how to use food to bribe producers."

Why go to the trouble? "Most pundits are unpaid, but they're enticed by the potentially rewarding byproducts -- book deals, big-dollar speeches, new consulting clients and congratulatory calls from their mothers and friends." It's easier to get on television and radio shows if you are willing to take an extreme position and say some pretty outlandish things, so those who really want some air time gravitate towards the extremes. Is this shocking news? Not to anyone who watches the cable news networks. But the story is worth reading, if only to better understand how we've reached a point in our media cultural where someone can go on a show "to talk about a children's book and [end] up being branded a terrorist."

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