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Press Man: The Prisoner of Zandi – Andrew Ferguson

09/26/2011

I’ve spent much of my summer trying to dodge Mark Zandi. I pick up my newspaper, I turn on the TV, I tap-tap my iPad, and there he is: explaining the past, divining the future, teasing insights from the tumultuous present. It’s his job. Zandi is not a pundit, exactly. He’s an economist by trade. What he really is, is a go-to guy, one of the most successful go-to guys in journalism history. The need for go-to guys is never less than acute, but this summer, with the failing economy and the debt-ceiling debate, demand has been particularly brisk.

Here’s how the go-to guy works. Let’s say you’re a reporter on a deadline and you need a quote right this minute about how Republicans have rendered Congress dysfunctional. Well then, your go-to guy is Norman Ornstein​, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Perhaps you want to give readers a little historical perspective, something eggheady about, say, how smoothly leaders of both parties used to work together before the lunatics (you know who they are) started running the asylum on Capitol Hill? Quick: get “presidential historian” Douglas Brinkley on the phone before he goes live on the NewsHour! He’ll be sure to tell you, with a wistful air, that Tip O’Neill and President Reagan were always friends after five o’clock.  […]

Continue reading at Commentary Magazine.

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