… we do not always reject the authority of an expert simply because he has been inconsistent on this or that occasion. But there are limits. It cannot fail to undermine public trust when government officials, media sources, etc. repeatedly and shamelessly say inconsistent things. (Some recent examples: Right-wing mass demonstrations during the Covid-19 pandemic were dangerous super-spreader events, but left-wing mass demonstrations were not. Questioning the integrity of the 2016 election upholds democracy, but questioning the integrity of the 2020 election undermines democracy. The left-wing riots that occurred throughout the summer of 2020 were “mostly peaceful protests,” but the right-wing riot that occurred on January 6 of 2021 was an “insurrection” and “worse than 9/11.” Skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines is reasonable when Trump is president, but irrational when Biden is president. To fail to wear a mask in public is to put grandma’s life at risk, except when Democratic politicians or journalists fail to do so. Preventing a woman from killing her unborn child violates her right over her own body, but forcing her to take a vaccine injection does not violate her right over her own body. Etc.)
I think worth noting that Emerson was referring to a foolish consistency and that Whitman wax making psychological statement, not a philosophical one.