The Difference Between Analysis and Commentary

On Election Night, CNN went with its now standard procedure of sending multitudes of reporters into the field. While usually when networks talk about reporters on the Election Night assignment they mean at campaign headquarters, CNN sends reporters into poll sites and report the votes as they are tabulated. They have been doing this since the 2012 election and it has led to moments like in the Iowa caucus where Wolf Blitzer was on the phone with Edith and Carolyn, two Republican operatives in the state.

However for whatever reason, the coverage did not seem as acclaimed as 2012. While I enjoyed just as much as usual, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun disagreed. Zurawik wrote, “And yet for all those foot soldiers and some superb analysis by Jake Tapper on the set, CNN’s coverage was debased to the point of being unwatchable at times by the featured presence of such hardcore former Obama operatives as Van Jones, Jay Carney and Stephanie Cutter in the guise of analysts.” Zurawik is incorrect in his analysis, though. First off, he bases his criticism on the foundation that Jones, Carney, and Cutter are analysts. However, they are not, they are commentators. There is a key difference. Analysts are there to break down the news and say what it means, commentators are there to add their own opinion and spin. The bar is significantly lower for commentators. Later, Zurawik writes, “Not that it was limited to CNN where Carney and Jones constantly tried to deny the reality of the Republican victory and the repudiation of the policies of their former White House boss despite the mountains of evidence.” Again, Zurawik is wrong. Once one realizes that Jones and Carney are commentators and not analysts, their commentary makes sense, As Democratic commentators, it is understandable and even expected that they will tow the Democratic line.

At first read, it seemed like Zurawik was criticizing Jones and Carney for being Democrats and defending their party. However, it is later understood that Jones and Carney were not wrong, Zurawik was.

Tyler is an employee at, helping to run @TKNNPolJungle. The views expressed are not held by his employer.

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