With its emphasis on the empirical, conspiracism is uncomfortably similar to the technocratic mindset of mainstream political discourse. Technocratic pundits — typified by the likes of Ezra Klein, a journalist and blogger who runs the Washington Post's Wonkblog — are likewise driven almost exclusively by data sets and empirical studies. As Bhaskar Sunkara suggested in this piece for In These Times, such pundits operate under the assumption that the facts are so powerful that they might lead people of all ideologies to embrace a particular array of ideology-free policies.
When technocrats disagree, their debates are supposedly over strictly factual questions rather than ethical ones: Do restrictions on firearm sales actually decrease gun violence? Will running continued deficits destabilize the economy? Does raising the minimum wage increase unemployment? This is not so different from conspiracy theorists, who ask questions about the long-term effects of certain policies (e.g. water fluoridation), and whether historical accounts of past events are consistent with the available evidence, and what will happen if certain groups acquire political power.The New Republic: Ezra Klein: The Wise Boy
That Klein has achieved this kind of success by age 28 is a fact that thrills his fans and rankles his detractors. (Wonkette once referred to him as a “child typist.”) It also puts him in the pantheon of hungry young men who have moved to Washington and shape-shifted, whether consciously or not, into something that’s more palatable to the city’s establishment. The blogger who, in 2008, tweeted, “fuck tim russert. fuck him with a spiky acid-tipped dick,” now styles himself as the evenhanded, empirically driven adult in a room of squabbling, stubborn children. Even his critique of Washington, grounded in data and charts and graphs, is establishment to the core: This place, he says, is not like it used to be.Brad DeLong reacts: Julia Ioffe of the New Republic Takes 5000 Words and Turns Ezra Klein into a Mere Personality
Ezra, dude, all of journalism is not the op-ed page. Most of the people you cite above couldn't cover a one-car fatal on 128 on a Sunday night. Somebody has to do the grunt work that involves calling the cops or the coroner, or the drunk high-school baseball coach, and not whoever is on call at the Center For American Progress that day.Naked Capitalism: Blinder Leading The Blind - "Joe Scarborough, Ezra Klein and the Washington Post editorial board are among those springing into action on behalf of deficit worry, and against the dangerous movement of calmness and sobriety breaking out all over."
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