A few months back, there was a legal “expert” column in the Wall Street Journal about Twitter suing Elon Musk for trying to bail on their deal. I can you that I know nothing about securities law or mergers and acquisitions law, but multiple attorneys online said that this article got just about everything wrong. Those people were lawyers in the industry who have dealt with similar cases before who outlines why the WSJ article was likely wrong.

Now maybe that author is really an expert and maybe he’s right on this one. Or maybe he usually gets things right, but got this one wrong. I’m not sure, but I can tell you that just because someone is in the paper or on TV, don’t assume they know what they are talking about.

I know this from personal experience. I was recently contacted and asked to appear on a morning news show to discuss a class action lawsuit versus Uber. I was called by some producer the night before the segment was to air. What was my main qualification? I think it’s that I was available and they saw an article I had written about suing Uber. Of course the article I wrote had nothing to do with the case they wanted me to speak about, but that didn’t seem to bother them. I declined to participate.

I have on other occasions given “expert” quotes to newspapers.  Many of those were fake it until you make it situations where they asked me questions about a case and I googled that case while we were talking in order to form an opinion based on what seemed correct to me. I think I was right, but who knows?

Since then, I’ve noticed many other lawyers offering their opinions on matters they really know nothing about beyond understanding general legal principles. It’s just like guys who predict what’s going to happen to the stock market or in politics. If you act like you know what you are talking about, people believe you. And if you end up predicting things that are totally wrong, nobody is going to go back and call you out on it.

I don’t believe in the concept of “fake news.” I generally think that most papers and TV stations try to get it right beyond the ones that are so obviously partisan. But I do believe that news reporters are lazy and careless and with cuts to budgets as well as a desire to be first, not necessarily right, mistakes happen. This includes giving platforms to people who have no idea what they are talking about which is sometime me.