Who is an expert?

Juan Cole offers this rhetorical question in his derision of Jonah Goldberg, who speaks confidently on TV about Iraq every week:

If you saw an hour-long piece on al-Jazeerah about the reality of the United States, with English subtitles, and the reporter speaking on the U.S. had never been to America, had never read a book about America, did not know a word of English, and moreover said all kinds of things that were complete fantasy and altogether wrong, would that man be someone you would recommend to others as having an important opinion on the matter that millions of people should be exposed to on NPR and CNN every other day?

TV news is careless with whom it describes as experts.

Note further that even having visited the U.S., speaking English, or having read one or more books on America doesn't, of course, make one an expert on America.

Even having written a book on America doesn't make one an expert.

Expertise depends on the depth of knowledge, its accuracy, and the ability to translate knowledge into useful analysis. That's a much harder assessment to make, especially for TV news producers looking to make a deadline that day.

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