James Joyner:

My declaration in Thursday's "NPR Shouldn't Exist But I'm Glad It Does" that one of my objections to public broadcasting was that it is an example "where money is taken from the masses to subsidize the elites" sparked quite a discussion in the comment thread over what constitutes an elite.

As almost always seems to happen, "elite" and "elitist" got conflated.

NPR is aimed at an elite audience, although obviously there are people who wouldn't consider themselves "elites" who enjoy the programming.   And the notion that highbrow news presentation that couldn't survive in the marketplace because the great unwashed masses are too stupid to select the "right" kind of show must therefore be subsidized is elitist.   But the two don't have to go hand in hand.

I was using "elite" in the dictionary sense of "A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status."  NPR's news programming is aimed at a small strata of the overall population that's relatively affluent and well educated.    I'd consider myself as part of that strata, based on education and income.

Now, of course, there are gradations of elite status.  A PhD from the University of Alabama isn't a PhD from Harvard and membership in the lower strata of the upper middle class isn't the same as being truly wealthy.   I am by no means a mover and shaker in society at large.  But I recognize that, while I by no means started out as privileged, I'm there now.

"Elitism," on the other hand, is different:  "The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources."

Read the rest here.