Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Krugman peddles the draft myth: New York Times Bush-hating columnist Paul Krugman's latest column is chock-full of conjecture that President Bush is going to bring back the draft.
It's not worth anyone's time to go through Krugman's manure point-by-point, but there was something I wanted to consider. It will take four more years to disprove Krugman's lie, but at the end of President Bush's second term and no draft has occurred, will the New York Times issue a correction?
There's precedent for running a correction years later -- after it's been proven you're wrong. As evidence, we have Robert Goddard -- the father of rocketry -- who was attacked by the Times editorial page on Jan. 13, 1920, for his belief that space travel was possible.
Goddard meant his moon musings to be innocent enough, but when the Times saw them, it pounced. As anyone knew, the paper explained with an editorial eye roll, space travel was impossible, since without atmosphere to push against, a rocket could not move so much as an inch. Professor Goddard, it was clear, lacked "the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
Goddard seethed. It wasn't just that the editors got the science all wrong. It wasn't just that they didn't care for his work. It was that they had made him out a fool.
Then, in 1969, decades after Goddard's death, the Times ran a correction.
After Apollo 11 lifted off en route to humanity's first moon landing, The New York Times took a bemused backward glance at a tart little editorial it had published 49 years before. "Further investigation and experimentation," said the paper in 1969, "have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."
So, can we expect a Krugman correction four years from now? Don't hold your breath.