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Paul Krugman gives some free advice
December 25, 2003 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Paul Krugman gives some free advice to reporters covering the election.
posted by skallas (39 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The guy sure doesn't hate his contempt of Bush in that article. And it's very hypocritical considering that he advises journalists to focus on issues not personalities. Krugman, please don't break your own rule!
posted by gregb1007 at 10:58 PM on December 25, 2003


gregb1007 sure doesn't hate his contempt of grammar in that comment.
posted by quonsar at 11:12 PM on December 25, 2003


quonsar sure loves to change the subject.. and yes, contempt can be hated.
posted by gregb1007 at 2:03 AM on December 26, 2003


How is contempt of Bush focusing on a personality? Disregarding completely your ability to form a coherent sentence for a moment, I have a contempt for our President based entirely upon his policies and not at all on his personality. Ergo, your implication that contempt of Bush MUST be based on personality is entirely false, as I'm an exception. Furthermore I have spoken to many others who have indicated that they too have contempt for the President based upon what he does, rather than who he is.

While your failures of grammar may earn you greater mockery, please remember that they are the least of your problems!
posted by Ryvar at 3:41 AM on December 26, 2003


Back on topic...the majority of working journalists in the U.S. aren't worthy of the name. Rumor-mongerers, character assassins, gossips, ratings whores, purveyors of political agenda, masters of the old shell game working to keep the masses distracted—but hardly journalists.
posted by rushmc at 6:51 AM on December 26, 2003


The guy sure doesn't hate his contempt of Bush in that article.

Krugman might have been worse served by pretending no rancor in the column. His contempt for Bush is well known. The contempt for shallow coverage is the greater theme of the column – out of 6 points, only two include criticisms of Bush:
  1. Policies such as tax-exempt savings accounts as proposed by Bush will actually be counterproductive (and Krugman does something unusual here for a journalist, but very good: he cites)
  2. Bush's reputation as a "a bluff, honest, plain-spoken guy" is supported by anecdotes, but so could a reputation as "a phony, a silver-spoon baby who pretends to be a cowboy".
The former criticism is very concrete. The later assertion probably could have been better supported by Krugman, I'll grant (but then again, if he'd picked his anecdotes to support his case, he would have been breaking his own advice). And while there is another of the six points in which he mentions Bush (the "look at the candidates' records" point), but if that's a criticism, it's a relative one: less moderate conservatives would see it as praise ("moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue"), even while those of us who tend towards the left or the very middle would find it critical.

In the end, I think no matter who your candidate of choice is, we're better served if Krugman's advice was followed.

Unfortunately, I think it won't be.
posted by namespan at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2003


...the majority of working journalists in the U.S. aren't worthy of the name.

Maybe a useful discussion would be which ones are worthy of the name. Ones that are known for following Krugman's rules. Ones that may have visible biases and opinions, but haven't written off views/people from an opposing spectrum wholesale. Who creates journalism that you trust?
posted by namespan at 7:14 AM on December 26, 2003


Who creates journalism that you trust?

This guy comes to mind...
posted by vito90 at 7:21 AM on December 26, 2003


From the article I linked above, which is about Jon Stewart, who shares our frustrations with the media:

"If all else fails, "The Daily Show" can always pick on its second favorite target: the media. For all the talk about the show's political bite, it's downright vicious to reporters. From the "senior correspondents" who never really leave the studio, to interviewers who are too impressed with their questions to wait for an answer, it's kind of amazing that the show has become a media darling. And it never misses a real news faux pas. A segment last week that showed an MSNBC reporter climbing into a plywood box made to imitate Saddam Hussein's bunker—"So Saddam apparently got his spider hole from IKEA?" said Stewart—was beyond hilarious. "I'm actually far more interested in the media's responsibility than the politicians'," says Stewart. "To me, the most interesting shot in the documentary 'Journeys With George' is from behind the horde of reporters going to a staged event. You ever see 8-year-olds play soccer? It's just this weird clump of legs, and then all of a sudden the ball will fly out and with no strategy or game, they just go 'Ball!' That's what the media is."
posted by vito90 at 7:24 AM on December 26, 2003


When I hear all this class warfare I just think "Can't we all just let the rich live in peace?". The truth is hard to swallow but lies are delicious.
posted by srboisvert at 7:47 AM on December 26, 2003


srboisvert, you forgot to close your <troll> tag.
posted by goethean at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2003


At this point it may be up to those on the far right to get the word out. Bush and his minions are liars and need to be called on it.
posted by specialk420 at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2003


Is it cynical of me to wish that these principles he mentions should be applied to all journalistic media stories, not just the big ones?
posted by infowar at 8:29 AM on December 26, 2003


This is very good , and points a way forward, from NYU's PressThink. If it's true the press plays a vetting role in the campaign, then it must be true that the press is a player. Or to put it another way, political journalists have come to understand themselves as supplier of a service--vetting the field--that the body politic cannot handle itself, because of high information costs and low motivation to bear them. "Too many choices, too much information to present."
But what happens when these costs shift, and new motivations spring up? Suddenly the supplier may be supplying something that people can make for themselves, or no longer want from that source-- like, say, political proctology via the pens of Washington journalists. We know this show is still running because Ted Koppel decided to administer the exam in a recent candidate's debate in New Hampshire.

posted by amberglow at 9:26 AM on December 26, 2003


the majority of working journalists in the U.S. aren't worthy of the name. Rumor-mongerers, character assassins, gossips, ratings whores, purveyors of political agenda, masters of the old shell game working to keep the masses distracted—but hardly journalists.

This description fits Krugman to a tee.
posted by Mick at 9:27 AM on December 26, 2003


I must agree that discussing the candidate's wardrobe is almost as big a waste of ink and paper as the horoscope. A bigger waste, since more people probably care about the horoscope. I mean please, it isn't like anybody is wearing a bright yellow suit with a lime green shirt and a flourescent purple tie. That would be worth printing.
posted by ilsa at 9:27 AM on December 26, 2003


yo mick.

This description fits Krugman to a tee.

first, krugman isn't a "journalist" - he writes an opinion column for the times...

second, were krugman a journalist, care to back up even one of your snarky assertions?
posted by specialk420 at 9:43 AM on December 26, 2003


...the majority of working journalists in the U.S. aren't worthy of the name. Rumor-mongerers, character assassins, gossips, ratings whores, purveyors of political agenda, masters of the old shell game working to keep the masses distracted—but hardly journalists.

You forgot to mention "lazy" and "alcoholics..."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:47 AM on December 26, 2003


So you're telling me that "The Daily Show" has replaced "The Onion" as "America's Finest News Source".

Yep, we're doomed.
posted by wendell at 11:33 AM on December 26, 2003


Meaning, Mick, that we should focus less on your comments and more on your clothes?
posted by kgasmart at 12:19 PM on December 26, 2003


Krugman is an economist, not a journalist, and yet he writes:

I don't really expect my journalistic colleagues to follow these rules.

Krugman is more interested in selling 10 cent ideas than speaking about real atrocities that the administration committed. Frankly, I think his ego just needed a couple of "Krugman, you da man" comments, which is probably why he chose to write these columns instead of focusing on what he does best, intelligent economic theory.

And his latest book reminds me of the fluff piece that Friedman calls a novel, the Lexus and the Olive Tree. Both books are great introductions to the subject, but aren't done justice because both writers are more interested in being heard than making intelligent commentary.

Don't parade a Krugman column as "intelligent". Inciteful, argumentative, and without depth is more accurate. The fact that you could sum up his entire article in one sentence without losing any of its value is telling. The sentence?

"The media should focus on real issues instead of making the election into a "Prom King" contest."

Half the people on MetaFilter could have written this drivel, with more flavor, passion, and rhetoric.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:51 PM on December 26, 2003


I eagerly await the publication in the New York Times of the political/media analyses of MiguelCardoso, StanChin, quonsar and thomcatspike.

And I've already started writing mine.
posted by wendell at 1:06 PM on December 26, 2003


"The media should focus on real issues instead of making the election into a "Prom King" contest."


BlueStone, while you could definitely summarize the article that way, it's not fair to say that's all Krugman said. He gave a good point-by-point description of some problems with political coverage commonly spotted in the wild.
posted by namespan at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2003


And I'm still waiting for my "good list" of journalists...
posted by namespan at 1:39 PM on December 26, 2003


BlueTrain apparently doesn't like Krugman's clothes. Also, I have yet to find anybody who'd call "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" a novel.

FAIR probably deserves a link in this discussion.
posted by muckster at 2:48 PM on December 26, 2003


namespan: here you go
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on December 26, 2003


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posted by Blue Stone at 4:15 PM on December 26, 2003


Well I think the biggest problem I have with Krugman is that, in 1999, he accepted $50,000 from Enron, than wrote a puff piece about them and completly failed to disclose the fact that he was bought and paid for.
posted by Mick at 4:38 PM on December 26, 2003


Looks like mick is our new resident talking points recycler.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:13 PM on December 26, 2003


I should know better to respond to the attempts at ad hominem distraction, but just for the record: The facts about Krugman and Enron, from Krugman's site. The so-called "puff piece", which clearly states that "I [Krugman] joined the advisory board at Enron". As Krugman states in the first link, the article "looks a bit naive now, but it's a love letter to markets, not to Enron."

And getting back to the actual point, it remains the case, as Krugman has noted, that if Bush were to say that the Earth is flat, the media would report the story as "Shape of Earth: Views Differ."
posted by Zonker at 5:28 PM on December 26, 2003


this is good too- the Media Carta
posted by amberglow at 10:27 PM on December 26, 2003


After 2000, why isn't there some collective media guilt on completely dropping the ball? I knew more about Al Gore's clothes than his issues and platforms when I watched TV "journalists" and pundits do their thing.

Nader took and ran with the dropped ball and his "there are no differences between the two major parties" resonated quite well as the mainstream media was selling that message anyway.

The so-called-liberal-media failed us again.
posted by skallas at 2:28 AM on December 27, 2003


amberglow, thanks. I'm a little wary of the mediawhores lists... the "naughty" list seems to be mostly right wing pundits; the "nice" list seems to be mostly left. That's a generalization (there are exceptions on both lists), and furthermore "conservative" punditry is among the most disingenuous to me, so I can't complain too much. Still, I wish there were less reason for me to suspect this list has a political bent.

But I will read up a bit on the nice list. :)
posted by namespan at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2003


Well, some of the folks listed are throwbacks to a more objective era of journalism (showing both sides of a story, and not just regurgitating what an administration says), and not especially "left" or "right."
I wouldn't call Helen Thomas "left" at all, but someone who tries to get past the spin, whether it's from Clinton, Bush, or any of the other presidents she's covered.
posted by amberglow at 12:02 PM on December 27, 2003


I'd say he's on the right track to make the statment that the media should be more on the ball for this election. I think part of the Daily show and sites like MeFi and fark (well, for breaking news....sorta) popularity is do to the fact that all of the background information is soo difficult to find in modern journalism that people might as well find it for themselves (add to that that the internet has made finding out this information much easier). If anything this gives me hope that people may start doing their own independent research before deciding to vote based on talking heads. I honestly don't care if someone decides to vote against what i chose, so long as they actually know what and who they're voting for.

and amberglow, thanks for the link!
posted by NGnerd at 6:53 PM on December 27, 2003


Amberglow -- thanks . . . many on that list are among my most trusted media sources.

If you read Krugman regularly you will find important information that you won't easily find anywhere else. An example here.
posted by ahimsakid at 10:24 AM on December 28, 2003


It's an old list--I'm surprised people haven't seen it before (that mediawhores site is good, but too intermittently updated)
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on December 28, 2003


ahimsakid, I agree, and I'm a 'mild' fan of Krugman, as well as Friedman. The problem I find is that NYTimes Op-Eds' intended audience is usually the LCD, and their rhetoric only solidifies my claim. And to further state that these op-eds are somehow intelligent is ludicrous.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:09 PM on December 28, 2003


Well I think the biggest problem I have with Krugman is that, in 1999, he accepted $50,000 from Enron, than wrote a puff piece about them and completly failed to disclose the fact that he was bought and paid for.

Well, recycled bitter, drunk, pasty skinned, large headed, potato eating mick gets same smack down: that is spelled L-O-S-E-R.

0 for 2, mick. You're on a roll.
posted by y2karl at 2:10 AM on December 30, 2003


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