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|Dialing for demagogues" is what it's jokingly called at NBC news. At Newsweek, editors tell reporters to dig up "domes." Sometimes they're called demagogues, domes, or pundits, everyone in the Beltway knows who they are - they're the small group of experts whom Washington reporters repeatedly call upon for expert opinion.
Th pundits provide sound-bites for network newcasts, appear as analysts on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and National Public Radio, and are quoted by wire services, news magazines, and newspaper reporters. The most-frequently quoted "experts" come from a handful of private universities, Beltway tanks, and Wall Street firms.
Edward Luttwak, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank, typifies the oft-quoted pundit. The Romania-born Luttwak attended the London School of Economics as an undergraduate and received at Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, where he taught for five years. In 1978, Luttwak joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies as an expert on military strategy, but his publicly - distributed resume lists no military service.
In the thirty days following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, "military analyst" Luttwak logged three appearances on Nightline and penned commentaries that appeared in the the Boston Globe (August 3, 1990), The New York Times (August 9,1990) and the Los Angeles Times (August 12, 1990).
Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Steve Berg dubbled Luttwak a "Middle Eastern expert" and asked him about the Iraqi government. Iraq has "a highly efficient dictatorship. Bloodthirsty, but very efficient," Luttwak explained. Four days later, on August 16, 1990, a commentary by Luttwak appeared in the Star Tribune's pages.
As tensions in the gulf increased, so did Luttwak's appearances. His opinions popped up 78 times between September 1 and December 31, 1990 in the Los Angeles Time, Boston Globe, Rocky Mountain News, and 14 other newpapers with full texts in the Dialog computer database system. He wrote additional commentaries for the Los Angeles Times (September 2, 1990), the Washington Post (September 9 and November 11, 1990), and The New York Times (November 1, 1990). By the time the U.S. went to war on January 16, 1991, Luttwak was winning the race against Fouad Ajami, Geoffrey Kemp, Judith Kipper, William Odom, and William Quandt to become the media's most frequently cited Middle East expert.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour turned to Luttwak for analysis on January 15, the night of the U.N. deadline for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, and again on January 16, the night the war began. That night, Luttwak popped up as an analyst on two networks' extended newscasts. A Los Angeles Times news analysis (January 17, 1991) on the outbreak of war described Luttwak as "a …