I came across this stuff on Facebook. The guy in the Cato/Koch stuff who thought highly of President G.W. Bush responded to Krugman’s recent criticism, and pointed to this very interesting Luskin post from early 2005:
It’s a catfight on West 43rd Street! Former New York Times “public editor” Daniel Okrent is clawing out the eyes of America’s most dangerous liberal pundit, Paul Krugman. The fur is flying as Okrent cites case after case of Krugman’s inaccuracy and partisan bias in all manner of economic statistics. Check it out on the New York Times website, unless you have a particular aversion to cruelty to animals.
In this fight, you, dear reader, can be the winner — by participating in the Krugman Truth Squad’s first-ever Jayson Awards — named after Jayson Blair, the Times reporter who admitted to a pattern of fraudulent and plagiarized stories — established to recognize Paul Krugman’s most outrageous statements in six categories. More on that in a moment. But first, about that catfight . . .
It all started ten days ago. As I reported Tuesday, Okrent wrote in his farewell column that “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers.” Next, in a lecture in Princeton last Friday, Krugman called Okrent’s comment a “peculiar blast,” saying he had caved to “constant pressure” from conservatives that had “built up a list of grievances in his mind.” Then on Sunday, the Times published a letter from Krugman lashing Okrent for not citing specific examples and proclaiming, “I played entirely fair with my readers, using the standard data in the standard way.”
Now, in postings Tuesday to the Times’ web-log for new “public editor” Barney Calame, Okrent unloaded on Krugman with both barrels. Krugman wanted examples? Okrent has examples. Lots of examples. Employment statistics. Social Security benefits. Federal deficits. Taxes. To readers of the Krugman Truth Squad column, none of Okrent’s examples of Krugman’s sleaze economics will be new. They aren’t even close to the most damning ones he could have used, and Okrent’s a little over his head on some of the technical details. But trust me, you’ll still take delight in the fact that Okrent is up off his knees at last — finally acting like a real “public editor,” and very aggressively calling Krugman’s spade a spade.
And you’ll also take delight in watching Krugman squirm to defend himself. Okrent charges that Krugman misused employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to make the economy under George W. Bush look worse, ignoring BLS research cautioning about difficulties in comparing those figures across time. Apparently this Princeton economics professor can’t be bothered to know the things that an expert like him is supposed to know. He lamely harumphed,
I don’t go hunting for research papers suggesting possible problems with the numbers unless the BLS says there’s reason to be concerned otherwise, it would be impossible to get any work done.
I took particular delight in Okrent’s candid portrayal of how difficult it has been to get Krugman to ever admit error. After 18 months and 40,000 words of e-mail correspondence with Okrent, in which I pointed out dozens upon dozens of substantive factual errors and distortions, only one published correction resulted — and that one wasn’t even labeled a correction (Krugman now claims, “I forgot”). Here’s Okrent:
I learned early on in this job that Prof. Krugman would likely be more willing to contribute to the Frist for President campaign than to acknowledge the possibility of error. When he says he agreed ‘reluctantly’ to one correction, he gives new meaning to the word ‘reluctantly’; I can’t come up with an adverb sufficient to encompass his general attitude toward substantive criticism.
That last part made me chuckle, because I’ve been waiting to get the time to mention a perfect (and very recent) example of this. On Feb. 28 Krugman had a post entitled, “Four Fiscal Phonies” where he wrote posted a chart showing that Obama’s policies would yield about a 76% debt-to-GDP ratio by 2021, while Ron Paul’s would be about 85%, and the other Republicans would be even worse. Krugman then commented:
Yep: as Republicans yell about Obama’s deficits and cry that we’re turning into Greece, Greece I tell you, all of them, all of them, propose making the deficit bigger.
And for what? For reverse Robin-Hoodism, taking from the poor and the middle class to lavish huge tax cuts on the rich.
And I believe that all of them know this, too. It’s pure hypocrisy – and it’s all in the service of class warfare waged on behalf of the top 0.1 or 0.01 percent of the income distribution.
So those are pretty strong words, eh? Then, the next day (and a mere three posts later), Krugman had a new post entitled, “Four Phonies Update” where he wrote:
There were some technical problems with my earlier post on GOP deficit phoniness, although not in any way that changes the message. So, here’s an update. I use the intermediate-cost estimate from CRFB (pdf) for the four Republican plans, and for consistency, I use CRFB’s own estimate (pdf) for Obama. And here’s what we get:
The new chart shows Obama still with about a 76% ratio, but now Ron Paul has dropped to about 74% or 75%. (I’m just eyeballing the chart.) Krugman then comments:
So it remains true that all of the proposals, except maybe Ron Paul’s (which contains huge and probably impossible spending cuts) would lead to higher deficits than Obama, based on a common assessment.
After that, Krugman goes on to mock supply-side economics.
No explanation of what the “technical problems” were; we get the idea that an intern faxed him the numbers and he misread Ron Paul’s percentage. No update to a “Three Phonies” charge; no retraction of accusing Ron Paul of hypocrisy. In fact, now that the numbers go (slightly) against Krugman’s whole point, he pivots and says “maybe” the numbers mean what they say, and then starts quibbling about the plausibility of the policies. (Since Krugman himself has often referred to President Palin’s administration, I guess he will agree that Obama’s tax hikes on the rich won’t last, and hence the deficit projections are also phony? Nah, of course not.)
Anyway, that’s what a Krugman apology looks like, soak it up while you can.