Sunday morning political shows and talk radio programs often feature at least one guest referred to as a pundit. This is an informal title for a recognized expert in a particular arena such as sports, politics or entertainment, especially one who is not afraid to be very outspoken or opinionated. A pundit often acts as a biased but informed critic of a particular political party or sports team or entertainer. A commentator such as comedian Bill Maher or Chris Matthews may be called a political pundit, while a sportscaster such as Bob Costas would be considered a sports pundit.
The role of a pundit is to provide an expert assessment of a current issue or movement within his or her field of interest. Quite often, however, a pundit's opinion can be very politically biased, which may not be an admirable trait in journalism but generally works well in a round table discussion program. Pundit Bill Maher's notoriously liberal stance on many political issues may be seen as informative to some listeners and inflammatory to others. Likewise, an ultra-conservative pundit such as Ann Coulter would provide her own political critiques with a different slant.
Some pundits are hired specifically for their partisan opinions, while others try very hard to remain unbiased or unaffiliated with a specific political movement. A discussion panel on a political show, for example, may consist of known conservative, liberal and neutral pundits. The goal would be for each pundit to present his or her opinion on a mutual topic and then defend that opinion against the other panelists. A respected pundit, whether it be in the arena of sports, popular culture or politics, generally makes an effort to stay "in the loop" and research his or her facts and figures.
Although the title of "pundit" began as a reference to a revered teacher or expert, there are some who suggest that certain modern pundits have stopped being educators or social critics and have become media-fueled caricatures instead. While a pundit may deliver his or her opinions in a decidedly sarcastic or provocative manner, he or she is still speaking as an expert observer in the field. Some modern pundits, most notably talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken, have generated a significant amount of negative feedback based on their outspoken and arguably insensitive comments and opinions.
An effective pundit has the credentials and genuine interest in a particular field to render an informed opinion without resorting to shocking rhetoric or scare tactics.