Etymology: Hindi pandit, from Sanskrit pandita, from pandita learned
1 : PANDIT
2 : a learned man : TEACHER
3 : a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media : CRITIC
- pun·dit·ry /-d&-trE/ noun
Quick, name the most powerful American pundits you can think of. Bill Maher? Bill O'Reilly? Jon Stewart? According to an article on Forbes, who analyzed data from E-Poll, the most powerful pundit in America is film critic Roger Ebert, who's been reviewing movies for 32 years. Ebert scored top marks for being "intelligent, experienced and articulate," he appealed to 70% of those polled, and he's recognized by well over half the population. Also making the top ten was another critic, Entertainment Tonight's Leonard Maltin, ranked seventh on the list, thanks in part to his Movie and Video Guide. Maltin ranked pretty close to Ebert in terms of appeal (67 out of 100), with an "awareness" level of 24.7%.
Who else made the top ten? You'll find Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly there, but not Howard Stern or Jon Stewart -- Forbes decided that Stern and Stewart, although they offer opinions, serve the primary purpose of entertaining. Forbes also finds it "troubling" how many young adults get their news from Stewart's The Daily Show (what, but Fox counts as "news" in their book? Please.) Just because it's entertaining doesn't mean it's not informative, Forbes -- Stewart's merciless cutting through the crap and political spin is what draws so many of the younger demographic to trust him over mainstream news media. You will find Fox's Greta Von Susteren on the Forbes list, along with Rosie O'Donnell and Geraldo Rivera (!). Check out the full top ten in pictures or read the full story here.
It's pretty darn impressive for two guys who write and talk about movies to hold two slots on the Top Ten Pundits list, especially at a time when critics are getting canned and consolidated by places like The Village Voice, and the field of film criticism is constantly questioned as to its relevance. The proliferation of individual bloggers writing their thoughts on movies may make it harder for readers to suss out whose opinions to listen to, but at least Ebert and Maltin are still up there. It's interesting to note as well that both Ebert and Maltin are on television; I wonder how print and online critics would rate overall in a poll strictly about the movie biz. Would we see print and online personalities like David Poland, Anne Thompson, Nikki Finke, Mahnola Dargis, and indieWIRE editor Eugune Hernandez on such a list? Who are your favorite film pundits?