From radio host Derek Hunter at Townhall:
You may not know this, but the people you see on cable news shows who are listed as “contributors” or “talk show hosts” or “strategists” have no more knowledge on the topic they’re discussing in authoritative tones than your dog does most of the time. It’s a problem because when average people watch these shows, they expect to get legitimate news. What they get is nothing of the sort.
Here’s how it works: The people you see on TV who aren’t newsmakers or members of Congress sometimes are booked well in advance, sometimes as much as a week. This is especially true in “debate” segments, when they have someone from the right and left discussing a topic. They don’t actually find out the topic they are “debating” until the morning of their scheduled appearance, and it can change until the moment they’re on the air if something happens in the world.
Here’s another bit of information you won’t get from watching these shows: When someone who appears regularly on a network is listed as a “columnist” or “contributor” for a news site, unless they write for them on a regular basis, they are likely paid by that outlet for the specific purpose of having that organization’s name promoted on the network. It’s product placement, same as a car or prominently featured bag of chips in a movie. You can tell by the way they’re booked to talk on TV because they write, never about anything they’ve written. They’re a warm body who can string a sentence together. More.
Reality check: All that the internet really changed is this: The entry costs for a job just about any fluent person can do are now minimal. We can see much more easily than before what the Bigs were doing when they produced fake news. No wonder these traditional high-end vendors are upset.
See also: Part I: What isfake news? Do we believe it?