The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi has a new piece out highly critical of cable news shows using what he calls celebrity “experts” as pundits. And one of the individuals targeted by Farhi is Montel Willaims:

Here’s the section on Montel:

Former TV talk-show host Montel Williams was on CNN the other day discussing the Senate torture report and . . .

Wait. What? Montel Williams, ubiquitous pitchman for payday loans,compression sleeves and blenders, was on a national news program discussing the CIA’s controversial “enhanced interrogation” program?

Actually, yes. CNN sought out Williams for comment after the report’s release, thereby according him equal time with senators, foreign-policy experts and human rights activists. By way of credentials, CNN host Brooke Baldwin noted that Williams, a former naval officer, “minored in international security studies” in college.

Why Williams, of all people? CNN never explained the choice, but, well, why not? Cable news has copious hours of airtime to fill, and it sometimes fills them with expert analysts who not only aren’t experts but also really aren’t even analysts. They just play them on cable TV news shows.

So Farhi is questioning why Williams, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who graduated from Annapolis and spent his career in intelligence doesn’t have enough experience to qualify as an “expert” for a cable news appearance? Really?

Montel, as you might imagine, was none to pleased with the insinuation that he wasn’t qualified to speak on the Senate interrogation report:

And zing:

Montel and Farhi then had a little back and forth, with Montel schooling Farhi on his qualifications:

That’s a very good question. Why doesn’t Mr. Farhi explain to us how the Washington Post determines who is and who is not an expert.

For example, what background does George Clooney have on Sudan that makes him expert enough to write an op-ed for the Washington Post?

We’ll be waiting for an answer.



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