The biggest privilege that columnists have? The right to get away with being stupid

"We're not stupid," they say, polishing their golden dunce's hats


Who gets to be stupid? That’s a big question in media, but not one that any columnist will ask or give you the answer to. 

This is going to be a short issue. Here’s the answer:

White people who have columns get to be stupid and get away with it. White people with columns who came up in the 80s/90s especially get to be stupid. White people with columns who came in the 80s/90s and worked on Melody Maker or the NME before somehow becoming politics columnists REALLY get to be stupid. 

Who doesn’t get to ever say anything foolish? -- and when you’re commenting every day on practically everything, you’re going to say something stupid -- BAME people, LBGT+ people, young leftist people don’t get to say anything stupid. 

Three examples -- Owen Jones (Guardian columnist), Ash Sarkar (lecturer and Novara Media correspondent) and Aaron Bastani (Novara Media co-founder, and author). These people don’t get to say anything dumb.

When they say something dumb, when they get it wrong, the mistake is set in stone and thrown back at them every single day. Ash Sarkar can’t even post a tweet about learning to ride a bike without receiving a torrent of abuse. 

But, for example, David Aaronovitch, a man who was notoriously wrong on the Iraq War and has, in recent times, admitted online that he got scammed into buying a jacket for a hugely inflated price -- literally wallet inspected -- is considered an old wise man of British media. 

The only people offering any real critique of the established columnists and the stupid things they say are extremely online leftists on Twitter, Twitch, podcasts, and YouTube. They don’t get taken seriously even as they frequently get the predictions right on what’s going to happen in a given political story. 

Who has the privilege to be dumb today without consequence? That’s the question you should be asking as you consume media today.