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Why do cable news shows use so many celebrity ‘experts’?

Former TV talk-show host Montel Williams was on CNN the other day discussing the Senate torture report and . . .

 Wait. What? Montel Williams, ubiquitous pitchman for payday loans, compression sleeves and blenders, was on a national news program discussing the CIA’s controversial “enhanced interrogation” program?

 Actually, yes. CNN sought out Williams for comment after the report’s release, thereby according him equal time with senators, foreign-policy experts and human rights activists. By way of credentials, CNN host Brooke Baldwin noted that Williams, a former naval officer, “minored in international security studies” in college.

 Why Williams, of all people? CNN never explained the choice, but, well, why not? Cable news has copious hours of airtime to fill, and it sometimes fills them with expert analysts who not only aren’t experts but also really aren’t even analysts. They just play them on cable TV news shows.

 Fox News, for example, called on Gene Simmons the other day to dissect President Obama’s announcement that he was relaxing decades-old restrictions on trade with Cuba. You may remember Simmons as the long-tongued, face-painted co-lead singer of the ’70s glam-rock band Kiss. Among other things, Simmons knows a few things about the music business, having spent a good deal of his adult life in it. As the author of a coffee-table book about the history of prostitution, he’s also something of an expert on hookers.

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