Predictions. Prognostications. Fortune-telling. Prophecy. Whatever you want to call it, a significant number of people from commentators to commoners and bartenders to bookies want to know what the future holds. Nobody wants this more than the pundit class.
Some pundits are better at making predictions than others. In fact, a pundit that gets it right, just once in their career, will be named a TruthSayer. That is a word I just made up. It means every article written by them will contain nothing but facts. Those facts will be unassailable. The authority of this media saint will be beyond reproach. It is why myths like global warming and the wage gap get perpetuated, unquestioned, in many modern media venues.
It explains why Jim Cramer is still on television.
Only leftist journalists can become TruthSayers. That is one reason why the “true conservative” journalists are so comical in their attempts to achieve the title. The New York Times bestows it. If Bill Kristol and David Brooks can’t earn it, what chance does anyone else have? Not that they’ve been right about anything.
So just how does a newly-minted freshman pundit grow a healthy, juicy, prognostication gland? I’m glad you asked.
Some take the easy path and go straight for the ouija board. You can tell who they are. They start out vibrant, witty, and capable of prose the likes of which William Randolph Hearst would delight. Slowly but surely the soul-sucking price that comes from dabbling with unknown supernatural entities leaves them drained. Some heed the warning and spend the rest of their lives repenting daily at The Blaze. Those that persist end up at Buzzfeed.
What? If you have a better explanation for Buzzfeed articles, I’d love to hear it. Comments are available below.
Other journalists learn to write and interpret their work in a “flexible” manner. For example, I covered the results of Super Bowl 50 between the Broncos and the Panthers by making the following prediction: “The team that scores the most points will win.” So accurate was this prediction that nobody would accept my bet.
Journalists obviously hide these sorts of predictions in a lot of verbiage and technical jargon which most readers won’t understand. On business channels, you’ll hear a lot of stock pickers do this. Listen carefully. The most successful ones will say something like: “I like AAPL here with a limited entry of 95. Our price target is 135. If it drops below 90 you’ll want to exercise a stop loss.” Oooh! Technical! In English, this translates to: Apple stock is currently at 94. Buy it before it hits 95. It might go up to 135. It also might go down, in which case you should sell. No matter what the stock does, he’ll be right.
Of course, television stock gurus will never ever tell you to sell, so this example is for illustrative purposes only.
Journalists have another trick that goes along with flexible interpretation that I call herd coverage. Lets say a journalist, Brent Shaper for lack of a better name, writes an election prediction along the lines of “Donald Trump has no chance at winning the nomination for Road Kill Scraper, let alone President.” This seems like a simple and straightforward prediction. Until, of course, Donald Trump secures the nomination. Whoopsie! Thank goodness Ben runs with a herd of journalists!
Another hypothetical journalist, Mishel Bates, then writes an article praising Brent Shaper’s genius in his prediction that Donald Trump would take the Presidential nomination. In fact, Brent Shaper is the only journalist who predicted it, everyone knows that. If you think otherwise, you obviously get your news from disreputable news sources like Breitbart.
Brent Shaper will, of course, return the favor. Pretty soon, any journalist who ever put the name “Trump” into an article is a super-genius, and isn’t it great that they are all part of the super-smart pundit class that knows more about elections and government and gender than all the peasants in the kingdom. Besides, peasants can’t read. Isn’t it also great that there’s no way Trump will ever be President?
There is one final trick that journalists utilize. They make up the news. A small percentage of them write articles from whole cloth and very rarely get caught. When you are making everything up, you’d better get the predictions right. Most of the time they produce The Poll. A shockingly large percentage of polls, like 100%, can be manipulated to say whatever the journalist wants them to say, within a margin of error of 4% or so. The margin of error is the most important part of any poll.
Polls can say anything, and journalists can always be right when talking about them. Should it turn out they were wrong, it wasn’t their fault! They got blindsided by the margin of error. It is like the green spaces on the roulette wheel that gives the casino a huge advantage over the
sucker gambler. That is why, when asked poll questions, you should give answers that get the pollster to hang up the fastest. They know what the people paying for the poll want it to say, and they’ll coax you all night for those answers until you give them.
In part 2, coming Thursday, I’ll make actual predictions about events in the upcoming months. I’ll cover the election results, brexit, Hillary’s indictment, and more. In the meantime, practice observing the punditry and spot these tricks yourself.
The Spork Speaks — Tempest in a Teardrop — tempestinateardrop.wordpress.com