Speaking of orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and their relative rewards: I’ve had occasion to recall something Yglesias wrote about a year back, responding to one of my own posts about the popular charge that insufficiently strident conservatives must just be venal climbers hoping to curry favor with liberals:
I think this situation is rather more complicated than Julian Sanchez makes out. It’s true that on the whole career incentives point in the direction of ideological orthodoxy rather than trying to snag some slot as a token. Still, within that framework of overall orthodoxy, the incentives are still to be somewhat less orthodox and on-message than your colleagues — stand out as the “reasonable” one and get invited to do panels and stuff. But I’ve never been invited to a Georgetown cocktail party.
I don’t know, actually. I think this becomes true at a certain level, for people who are already well established as voices from one camp or another. Insofar as George Will is already a big-name conservative, it’s interesting that he sometimes breaks ranks and so forth. But for smaller fish, your best bet of getting media exposure is to hew to a strong polar position on some issue so you can represent “the” conservative or liberal viewpoint when some reporter or broadcaster is trying to set up maximal clash in a he-said-she-said story or segment. Folks who are trying to sell eyeballs want a fight a lot more often than they want a sort of measured “well, there are merits in both views” kind of take, unless you’re recognized as a super-expert in your field. But for that, the go-to will more often be someone without a strongly identifiable ideological valence.