Blurring the Line of Historian and Political Pundit

American political news and commentary have ushered in a new territory when compared to the last administration. Trump has spent his short presidency being confronted daily by a hostile media. It is clear that the media is not only skeptical of Trump, they are still very confused about how he was able to find himself in The White House. As always, the American public simply wants the facts about what decisions are being made and why.

Some news organizations are turning to historians in order to make sense of Trump and his administration. The current contentious feelings between news organizations and the Trump administration has catalyzed an interest in historians to provide their insight and judgment.

In a recent Op-Ed piece published in the New York Times called, “Historians Shouldn’t Be Pundits,” Moshik Temkin, points out the dangers in historians being asked to appear in very short news segments, playing the role of a political pundit. The reality is, that while historians can provide us with valuable information about our political history and how we have evolved, there is a danger in them making ruthless comparisons and analogies.

While many citizens who were not pleased with the election results would enjoy hearing their bias confirmed through a historian comparing Trump to Nixon, or some other evil foreign dictator, these types of correlations are misleading at best. Temkin welcomes the interest in history by news organizations who are inviting historians to make an appearance, and this should be embraced. However, he is cautioning all of us to separate historical facts from our modern-day, volatile political banter that is more reserved for pundit personalities.