Toby Miller’s “Intellectuals” is prescient in interrogating the collapse of the fourth estate, the diminished role of the public intellectual in contemporary media and political environments, and the superficial agenda-setting and muck-raking so prevalent in the news media today. Written in 2005, this article could (and perhaps should) be interpreted as a meta-commentary on the academic’s responsibilities and limitations in the public sphere. For the academic to be a viable commentator and contributor, she must de-contextualize and de-historicize the event of the day, churning complex developments into simple narrative snippets ready-made for mass consumption. With the current 24 hour election “news” cycle recently focused on the missteps of public academics within democratic campaigns (from Harvard Professor Samantha Power’s now infamous comments re: Hillary Clinton to University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee and Harvard Professors Jeffrey Liebman and David Cutler embroiled in a Canadian NAFTA snafu), it appears only a matter of time before the public academic is stripped of its “public” moniker, relegated to the policy sidelines as the cycle churns out another “breaking news” story of sexual perversion, corruption, and hypocrisy
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