November 4, 2003

#129: We didn't think he could sink any lower, but...

P. Krugman

In This Can't Go On (11/04/03) Paul Krugman quotes the great Herb Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Richard Nixon, for what is known as Stein's Law: "Things that can't go on forever, don't." We would make this addendum: "People who can't sink any lower ethically, do." This addendum applies to Krugman himself and he is in an ethical free fall.

He dredged up the Congressman George Nethercutt vs. the Seattle Post-Intelligencer set-to, a sad event in journalism, which has been blogged endlessly as an example of media bias and irresponsibility. Andrew Sullivan covered this best so we will quote him before turning to Krugman.

"DOWD AWARD NOMINEE: This one goes to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for deliberately mangling a quote from Congressman George Nethercutt. He'd just returned from a tour of Iraq and, like so many others, reported a much more optimistic scenario than many in the media have been reporting. He gave a talk in which he said, "So the story is better than we might be led to believe � I'm � just � indicting the news people � but it's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day which, which, heaven forbid, is awful."

The Seattle P-I chopped off the quote so that it said in its subhead: "It's a better ... story than losing a couple of soldiers every day." They added in their own words: "He added that he did not want any more soldiers to be killed." But that is not an accurate rendition of the full quote. It's a device to protect themselves in what is clearly a hit-job. Nethercutt complained, "I requested that the Post-Intelligencer correct the record. They refused. And they even refused to at least run my full quote. But the P-I didn't stop there. They then wrote an editorial condemning me, repeated the quote they had deliberately distorted, and put my 'quote' next to the name of one of our fallen soldiers. To do so was completely heartless."

So what does Krugman do, with full knowledge and malice of forethought? The same damn thing! Except he didn't even add the mollifying phrase used by the Seattle P-I to acknowledge that Nethercutt did not actually "want any more soldiers to be killed."
"Some Americans may share the views of the Republican congressman who said that progress in Iraq was "a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day." (Support the troops!)"
Krugman not only truncates the Nethercutt quote to further his partisan agenda, but adds the parenthetical "(Support out Troops!) which gives the impression that the thrust of Nethercutt's remark showed lack of support.

We think Andrew needs a new award category. We suggest the 'Krugman Mauling Award' based on some NLF penalty terminology. In this case Krugman made a late hit, out of bounds and with an intentional face-mask tacked on.

They say he's a prince of a guy once you get to know him.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at November 4, 2003 9:50 AM
Weblog by John Weidner