A new definition of ‘expert’

Updated
When Rupert Murdoch was poised to add the Wall Street Journal to his media empire, there were a few concerns about the future of one of the nation’s most powerful news organizations. Little did we know at the time just how far the newspaper would go.
 
The WSJ now has an online feature called “The Experts,” in which the paper features commentary from specialists and authorities in their given fields. Yesterday, as Jon Chait discovered, this meant giving ’70s-era actress Suzanne Somers a forum to attack the Affordable Care Act as a “socialist Ponzi scheme.”
 
The piece is a bizarre, 543-word screed, filled with strange errors of fact and judgment, culminating in Somers’s attempt to draw a historical parallel: “It’s the dark underbelly of the Affordable Care Act reminiscent of what Lenin and Churchill both said. Lenin: ‘Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state.’ Churchill: ‘Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens.’”
 
As the paper’s editors later conceded, the quotes Somers relied on aren’t real.
An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin (“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state”) that has been widely disputed. And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill (“Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens”) that the Journal has been unable to confirm.
What’s more, as Chait noted, the argument doesn’t make any sense anyway, since Churchill was a strong proponent of a national health care system.
 
But even putting that aside, can the **Wall Street Journal** explain why, exactly, it’s presenting Suzanne Somers to its readers as an “expert”?
 
Indeed, it’s possible the right has grown confused over what “expertise” even means. Fox News and House Republicans consider John McAfee to be a credible expert; the Republican National Committee considers David Horowitz to be an equally reliable authority; and now the **WSJ** is publishing strange pieces from Suzanne Somers on health care policy she doesn’t understand.
 
The wonk gap between the left and right is getting worse.
 

Wonk Gap

A new definition of 'expert'

Updated