Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A mendoza line for the MSM

The Wapo’s Richard Cohen fesses up to being wrong in his initial support for both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. But after his initial error (someone else’s fault), he tells how he heroically realized that he would not want to fight in either one because his life was too valuable to be thrown away in a stupid, counterproductive war.

I guess that compared to other prominent columnists we should give him credit for admitting his mistakes, but why the fuck doesn’t he just shut up when he has been so horribly wrong about so many of the great issues of his time? Vanity and weakness, I guess, but someone needs to shut him up before he’s horribly wrong again. He’s no doubt already thinking about what a good idea it would be to bomb Iran. And he’s far from being the only one.

Just so there’s no misconception, I’m saying it's management’s job to shut these people up, or at least keep them off the editorial pages of the country’s most influential news outlets.

Why don’t major media such as the Washington Post and New York Times hold their columnists to any kind of standards regarding the quality of their opinions? If they were playing baseball, most of the highly paid pundits in the Post and the Times, as well as the vast television wasteland, would be batting well under .200. They have struck out on just about every major issue for the past twenty years, and then some.

Why is there no quality control beyond hair, makeup, and writing technique? Why no metrics, as we say in the corporate world, to track whether the opinions these people express turn out to be right or wrong?

The media need to hire an employee to chart the columnists’ analyses of issues and then when reality proves them right or wrong, compute their average. Then there would be something like baseball’s Mendoza line. The Mendoza line is a batting average so low that it gets you cut from the team. It means failure.

Perhaps they could call it Kagan or the Krauthammer line? No, only firing those who are wrong about everything all the time would be setting the bar too low. The Cohen line would work though. Anyone who is wrong as often as Cohen, or more, should not be playing in the major leagues.