Quite a bit of power, actually: Washington tends to be an echo chamber, so the varied op-ed and pundit folk talk to... each other, and watch... each other, and read... each other. They have little contact with an outside world, and have become a clique-y group which has developed its own language and shibboleths. This wouldn't be such a problem if they didn't have the singular ability to determine what news was reported, what was considered newsworthy, and what politicians thought were the pressing issues of the day.
This anti-democratic situation is covered well by the always- awesome Eric Alterman in his book "Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy", a great read to see in detail how the media has in the past 20 years come to not only dominate how discourse occurs, but in many cases actually make policy decisions through their unexceeded bully pulpit.posted by hincandenza at 12:29 PM on July 23, 2001
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