“That said” has become one of my favorite expressions lately. That said…
The other night, I was having a conversation with a professional political analyst whose judgment I value highly, and one of the subjects that happened to be fit for this family-friendly blog—it was a Friday dinner fueled with cocktails and wine—was the noticeable difference between op-eds and even reporting in mainstream journalism on one hand and analysis on the other. Our first conclusion was that the former dug up facts that suited conclusions dictated by ideology and conventional wisdom while the latter tried to let the facts dictate the conclusion.
Confession: We were being unkind and judgmental; we both know many a journalist or talking head who is more than a match for the better-than-average political analyst. (on fact, some of our best friends are…) And you know how badly financial analysts failed their clients during every economic bubble. Perhaps, then, the takeaway is this: The facts, ma’am, just the facts.
But no, the analyst had a further insight: It’s the context created by the analysis that matters, since the consequences of any investment accrue to the investor and the investor alone. At the end of the day, the call is almost trivial,, since it is the responsibility of the investor and the investor alone. The analyst can only provide the context.
Is that a copout? I don’t know. You make the call.
A collateral point that I noticed later is that it’s much easier to agree on the context than on the conclusion. And that, my friends, is the fundamental basis of a civil discourse. JM, with whom I so often have to agree to disagree, will agree to that.