Answer: Other pundits.
There was a perfect example of it this morning on Meet the Press when host David Gregory praised a think tank speech that New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie gave last week:
According to Gregory, not only did Christie's speech earn "rave reviews" (from whom, we're not told), but the governor's rhetoric represents "the kind of plain talk that people are responding to."
But are they "responding"? And who are these "people"? I'd suggest most of the "people" supposedly responding to Christie's "plain talk" are other media players like Gregory who have been showering the first-term governor with often comically positive coverage for the last year. (i.e. OMG, he yells at voters on YouTube!)
For instance, if you look at the polling, a small sliver of potential Republican primary voters are responding to Christie in that they pick him as their first choice for a 2012 candidate. But that sliver hardly represents any sort of national response from the "people" to Christie's partisan rhetoric. Meanwhile, in his home state Christie enjoys decent support, with an approval rating of about 50 percent. Although if you only listened to the Christie media chatter from inside Beltway you'd assume his poll numbers were in the sky-high, 60 or 70 percent range.
Perhaps more telling though, is the recent poll that showed if Christie ran against Obama in 2012, the governor would lose his home state by nearly 20 points. That's right, Christie would get trounced by Obama in N.J.
I realize much of the D.C. press corps is crushing on Christie. But before they announce that "people" are responding to the governor's "plain talk," pundits might want to find out if that response extends beyond their professonal class.