Matt Bai doesn’t get that. In the NY Times Magazine, Bai writes (italics mine):
The emergence of the Internet age has been accompanied, in general, by a steady devaluing of expertise. A generation ago, you went to the doctor to find out about the pain in your knee; now you go to WebMD, diagnose it yourself and tell him what medicines you want. People used to trust stockbrokers and insurance agents; now they buy and sell at E*Trade and compare policies online. American voters who once looked to newspaper columnists for guidance on politics now blog their own idle punditry. Suddenly, experience is downright suspect — it’s the barrier that so-called professionals use to wall themselves off from everyone else.
There is a tremendous between a trained medical professional and, let’s say, pundit David Broder. The medical professional knows a lot more about medicine than most–and has experience using that knowledge (or part of it, anyway). A newspaper columnist typically isn’t an expert in anything. When is the last time any newspaper pundit actually went out and did the nitty-gritty observation to truly understand the legislative process for a particular bill? The two pundits even remotely close to that standard are Norm Ornstein and Robert Novak (yes, that Robert Novak). Hell, I probably follow certain aspects of healthcare legislation more closely than the pundits who write about it. By “follow”, I mean I know who’s lobbying and pushing for particular wording, and why.
Part of expertise is possessing a particular body of knowledge and experience. Yet many pundits claim an aura of expertise that is unwarranted. They have no more expertise than you or I do, so why should they be granted any extra authority? They’re just another bunch of guys with a blog, just like the Mad Biologist.
And Matt Bai.