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How Much Are Political Pundits Paid For TV Appearances? The Political Pundits


How Much Are Political Pundits Paid For Tv Appearances

Television political pundits are among the rare and quite fortunate groups of people. They share their opinions and influence the thinking of the people. Many campaigns and political professionals who want to share their opinions and influence people go for the punditry job.

However, it is quite competitive. Those eyeing a regular spot on major media houses have to be exceptional. Right now, there are so many successful political pundits.

CNN has about 100 pundits on its payroll. The two other big TV stations MSNBC and fox, declined to provide the number of pundits on their payroll.

Answering the question, how much are political pundits paid for TV appearances?

Political pundits are paid an average salary of about $141,000 and range from as low as $31,336 to a high of $569,423.

Across all TV stations, the salaries paid to pundits remain shrouded in mystery. It depends on the television station and the market demand for pundits’ expertise.

Well Known Political Commentators

For ones who have managed to rise in the ranks of political pundits, salaries can reach seven to eight figures. By checking out the net worth of some famous political pundits, you can get a sense of what they amass during their punditry career.

1. Sean Patrick Hannity

He is a conservative political pundit. He also hosts ‘the Sean Hannity show, nationally syndicated talk radios show. Plus ‘Hannity’ a commentary program on FOX news. He has an estimated net worth of $80 million.

2.Rachel Anne Maddow

She is a liberal political pundit for MSBN, an author, and hosts her on a political show, Maddow’s show. Her estimated net worth is $20 million.

3. Tucker Carlson

He is a conservative television host and a political pundit. Since 2016, he has hosted the ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight on FOX news. His estimated net worth is $16 million.

How Pundits’ Salary Is Determined

Many media houses do not comment on how they come up with the pundits’ salaries. But by looking at how various TV stations carry out the recruitment process. One can explain how salaries are calculated.

The non-famous pundits start with a per-appearance fee agreement that offers them a small guaranteed retainer to accept being exclusive for the TV station.

Suppose the person resonates with the TV station’s audience and delivers as agreed in the contract. The TV station offers him/her an annual, flat-fee contract. This uplifts the person’s status to punditry.

The Taxonomy Of Punditry

Pundits can be contributors, analysts, commentators, or strategists.

A contributor is that exclusive media hireling who gets paid for his or her sound bite. They are paid for each appearance or for being on a call on live television.

The amount ranges from $150 per session to the mid-six- figures for household names.

An analyst is a fully salaried or a contract employee. They analyze the day’s political topic and give facts, unlike a contributor.

A strategist usually works as a part-timer. They are always hired to give insights because of their experience in the political field.

Then there are the “guests,” temporary employees. Guests are not paid for their appearances. They are always free to give their opinion in any media house they want. Today he/she can appear on a show on CNN and MSNBC next.

People refer to them as the talking head since all they do is talk across the media houses.

How To Become A TV Political Pundit

Political pundits use their extensive knowledge of governance and political systems to offer insightful analysis on political issues.

To be a good pundit, you should be able to acquire and analyze political information accurately. This career is more suitable for a person with great communication skills and a passion for politics.

1. Obtain professional knowledge

To be a pundit, you should at least pursue a bachelor’s degree in any field related to politics. It can be journalism and mass communication, political science, or the law.

Although a degree in political science will enhance your understanding of various facts in politics and governance. Such as; race, modern politics, the American government, ethnicity, and foreign policy.

Upon completion of your studies, you can opt to search for a job and gain useful experience. Or you might as well proceed to a graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in the relevant fields.

This will help broaden your political knowledge.

2. Write a book

Some are not for this idea, and they question the relation between authoring a book to punditry. This is because writing a book needs time and commitment. Nothing great was created in a day.

For many pundits, writing a book has been their gate opener to the world of punditry. They insist that authoring a book is the best decision one can make. That is if you want to establish your career as a political pundit.

The book should not necessarily be among the best selling or win a prize. The key thing is getting a book published. The subject that you will write about should be related to politics or current events.

After publishing, it acts as an added advantage to your future career as a political commentator. People will see you as an expert. They will believe you did extensive research on the subject and that you understand it.

3. Promote your book

After writing, there is publishing which is always quite tiresome. When done with publishing, the writer has to promote or publicize the book. Promoting the book is the most daunting task of all. As a writer, you will need extra levels of patience and hard work during this period.

Getting a chance in the media house to talk about your book is not easy. Before approaching the media houses, you should know your target audience and the media outlets that cater to your audience.

When you get a chance to talk about your book in any media house, focus on quantity over quality, this is because the more you feature on TV, the better you will give political commentary.

You will also gain popularity amongst the producers and the audience. Practice indeed makes perfect.

4. Be the expert

This is where authoring a book becomes handy. Many media outlets are looking for experts. The experts give their opinions, insights, and context to breaking or tending political stories.

The first bold step you took by writing a book starts to pay here. Having a published book will have you considered an expert.

Besides the books, your professional background matters too. It should lend you government or political expertise. Having worked in or with the government will be a plus.

Maybe you were an assistant district attorney, former judge, chief of staff at the governor’s office, or even a clerk. These are roles that have given you knowledge on how the systems of the government work.

By having an inner understanding of the government workings that most people do not. Automatically makes you an expert.

5. Be opinionated

It doesn’t sound polite, but you must be opinionated if you want to be a political pundit. Always comment on current political events. But be ready to support your comments with facts and stats.

Again be ready for rebuttal, and don’t take things personally. Some people will be aligned with your opinion, while others will be against it.

In an event where you are invited to a media outlet for a panel discussion, the TV station will inform you about those included in your panel.

After knowing their specific research, by visiting their Twitter handles, checking out their LinkedIn profiles and even their websites. This will help you in knowing how to handle them.

It would be best if you did extensive research on the topic to be discussed. The more prepared you are, the better you will appear on TV.

Every time you are on television, your first goal should be to entertain than educate second. Media outlets love pundits with interesting stances on political events. This make captures the interests of the audience and makes the session interactive.

6. Promote yourself

Check out the most successful TV pundits. I mean those who have already established their name on major media houses. You will realize that to be a successful TV pundit. You have to sell yourself as a brand.

You have to market and promote your services constantly. In the case of punditry, you have to promote yourself and your opinions.

Getting a chance in TV stations is hard, and a one-time invite to the TV station is not a guarantee for a successful career.

Therefore you should focus on promoting yourself.  This way, you will be noticed by other media houses. It would be best if you were comfortable with self-promotion.


Getting a steady gig as a political pundit is quite difficult.  But by being exceptional, you can carve out a niche and get regular appearances on talk shows and news. Being employed as a pundit can help you earn quite a bit of money.

Most political pundits have advanced degrees in politics, such as law, journalism, and political science. However, it isn’t easy to get a job as a pundit immediately after college.

It takes time, and one has to build his/her reputation by holding a political position in the government or an NGO.

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