Monday, August 09, 2004
O'Reilly vs. Krugman: I watched the rhetorical slugfest on Tim Russert's show this past weekend. It wasn't exactly title fightlike, it was more of a "Toughman" competition. Not a lot of skill was on display, but it was bloody. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, with a decided advantage on reach, height and weight, it was really no contest as he pummeled Paul Krugman throughout.
I must say that after several years of critiquing and criticizing Krugman on this blog, it was refreshing and satisfying to see someone who was unwilling to feign respect for the New York Times' partisan hack.
Could O'Reilly have done a better job? Certainly. I've complained quite a bit recently that O'Reilly often hasn't done enough research preparing for certain guests on his television show.
If you're interested in the transcript of the show, along with plenty of links and analysis, check out Don Luskin's site.
One exchange that really stood out to me was a bit of name-calling:
Prof. KRUGMAN: Yeah, the bait and switch. What we're talking about--what I was talking about was rolling back the high-end tax cuts, and all of a sudden you're talking about those terrible tax burden on middle-class families who can 't afford a house. Look, the basic fact is the tax cuts we've had, which is the stuff that I want to roll back--I mean, I don't even want to roll back the middle-class tax cuts, which are small change. But the Bush tax cuts--the total amount of tax cuts for people earning more than a million a year, that's 0.13 percent of the population, are larger than the total tax cut for the bottom 60 percent of families, basically everybody earning less than $50,000 a year. So these people that you're saying are suffering under the burden of taxes got nothing from Bush. And it's people like you or me, if I sell more books than I have so far, who are the prime beneficiaries. So, you know, this is the bait and switch. This is not the real story.
And you take a look at anything I've written about economics, and I'm not a socialist. You know, that's a slander.
Mr. O'REILLY: I said quasi.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Well, that's a wonderful--then you're a quasi-murderer. I mean, why--what...
I must confess, I've not read any of Krugman's books. I have read just about every one of Krugman's columns, though, and I can see how someone could come to the conclusion that Krugman has socialistic tendencies.
But that's not why this exchange caused my jaw to drop. How does one go from being offended at being called a socialist to calling your opponent a "murderer"? Normally the lefty slur that this attack calls for in response is "fascist."
Why would you call your opponent a "murderer?" Quasi or otherwise?
*UPDATE* O'Reilly's replaying portions of the Tim Russert show on Fox News and while taking a second look I've confirmed what many other Krugman critics have noticed -- Krugman's hands are shaking like leaves in a hurricane.