Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Lying, partisan hack: I haven't been beating up on New York Times columnist Paul Krugman lately because he hasn't been doing much original work. Twice a week he trots out the same old, tired claims with the words put in a slightly different order and the Times pays him all over again.
As the inestimable Don Luskin points out, Krugman has again trotted out a baseless claim, but this time he tweaked it so it's not accurate.
The election is getting nearer, and looking worse and worse for Kerry -- and a desperate Paul Krugman is getting a bit bolder. Now in today's Times column Krugman writes:
"Recently, when a reporter asked Mr. Bush about reports that North Korea has half a dozen bombs, he simply shrugged."
Compare this to what Krugman wrote in his 9/14/04 column:
"When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea's ongoing nuclear program, 'he opened his palms and shrugged.'"
The line from two weeks ago was sleazy but technically true. As I wrote then in Bush's August 27 Times interview, the reporter indeed wrote that "he opened his palms and shrugged." What Krugman leaves out is that Bush went on to talk to the reporter about his strategy for Korea. But Krugman only suggested that Bush did nothing but shrug –- he never actually came out and said that's all Bush did.
In today's column, though, it's different. This time Krugman states "he simply shrugged." He is no longer quoting a Times reporter -– he is himself reporting the event. By inserting the word "simply," he is affirmatively asserting that Bush did nothing but shrug. This is not true. According to the Times interview, after shrugging,
"He said he would continue diplomatic pressure -- using China to pressure the North and Europe to pressure Iran -- and gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action. "'I'm confident that over time this will work -- I certainly hope it does,' he said of the diplomatic approach."
It is an "error" (polite word for "lie") that Bush "simply shrugged." Such an error should be corrected. It is especially egregious because it misrepresents news covered in the Times itself. Will it be corrected? Are you kidding me? Not while Gail Collins is in control of the editorial page and Dan Okrent is asleep on the job.
Luskin has gotten his answer -- Okrent says there's nothing to see here. Move along.
This is little more than bad journalism, from what was supposed to be one of America's great newspapers. Krugman can make his point honestly by simply dismissing Bush's answer. (e.g. "When asked about North Korea, the president offered meaningless platitudes and naive theories.") The lie of omission is something that should be corrected -- no matter what Okrent says.