The Atlantic Monthly has put together a list of the top 50 commentators in the US. I like that they used data to form the list (see their methodology here) based on some measure of influence, reach and web engagement. I am familiar with many of the names and actively follow some of them. I am trying with all of my might to refrain from boring you with my opinions on many of them. That would be a long post that none of us have time for anyway.
- Ta-Nehesi Coates notes that it’s Kanye’s fault after a David Brooks column from last week. He takes on Brooks noting that he has selective memory in his description of American modesty during the past. In short, regarding modesty, things are not so different in the US today than they used to be. Yes, we have Joe Wilson and Kanye now, but we had George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and a host of other prominent people in the past. People have always been self-promoters and I, personally, don’t think this really applies only to the US. We are talking human nature here.
- Several people go after Thomas Friedman for, in my opinion, going off the deep end a bit. He praises authoritarian government’s ability to get things done and notes how this is helping them get ahead on issues such as climate change. I’m sure he is right about their ability to make hard decisions, but he glosses over the huge gaps in freedom and liberty that come with this. This is the quickest way to get labeled a socialist and perhaps that is okay with him. As a former Friedman disciple, it still makes me sad. I did not link to another blogger refuting him because I felt I could handle this one myself.
My point here is not that a less prominent blogger is definitively smarter or more deserving of notoriety. It is that these 50 voices may indeed carry the most influence right now, but that in no way makes them superior to the thousands of other commentators out there. It’s worth it to go looking beyond the prominent columnists in the NYT, WaPo, et al.