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Thursday, June 13, 2002

The Krugman Watch Never Sleeps

Even if our reader's eyes are getting droopy. HEY, don't read this while driving! OK, let's get to work. I started a blog so that I wouldn't have to write "Letters to the Editor" to the NY Times. But old habits die hard, and I expect the thrill of seeing your name in the Times letters would exceed even a cite from Instapundit. Idle speculation, neither has happened.

Bur why wait for them to not publish it? I am empowered. So here we go:

June 12, 2002

Dear Sir;

In his Tuesday column titled "The Rove Doctrine", Professor Krugman writes:

"One of Bill Clinton's underappreciated virtues was his considerable idealism when it came to economic policy. The Berkeley economist Brad DeLong lauded Mr. Clinton's "record of being willing to take major political risks in order to do what he thinks is right for the country as far as international economic policy is concerned." What he had in mind was the way Mr. Clinton went out on a limb, defying the polls and reaching across party lines, to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and the even bigger risks he took to rescue Mexico from its financial crisis in 1995. Like Mr. DeLong, I know some of the key players in both of those decisions, and I'm sure that they were taken on the merits: the Clintonites really, truly believed they were doing the right thing."

The impact of Mr. Krugman's piece might have been slightly diminished if Prof. DeLong had been further identified as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury for Economic Policy, from 1993 to 1995, and as an expert witness who testified on behalf of the Gore campaign in the Florida 2000 election.

Prof. Krugman asserts that, like Prof. DeLong, he knew some of the key players. Perhaps he should have mentioned that the players included Prof. DeLong.


Name witheld due to a near total absence of guts
(OK, I told them, but only because they asked.)

Links: Hey, they are right up above. But I wrote them out in my note to the Times.

So where are we now? Well, we are still admiring the Brothers Judd for spotting this. And we have sent a copy of this note straight to Prof. Krugman, adding only the thought that this non-disclosure strikes me as a serious breach of journalistic ethics. If a source is introduced to reinforce a point being made, disclose the source's full background so that readers can assess the possibility of an otherwise hidden agenda at work. I am sure that there is an explanation for Krugman's approach; I'm just stumped as to what it might be.

Now, an alert reader has pointed out that DeLong's role in the Florida vote trial was a bit more nuanced. The Gore campaign did not formally support the suit to throw out ballots based on statistical modeling in Seminole County. However, I believe it is fair to say that both Democrats and Republicans knew which side of the suit they were on, and DeLong certainly knew which side he was testifying for. So I will wriggle around my comment by saying that DeLong spoke for the broader effort (i.e., campaign) to elect Gore, although he presumably wasn't paid by Gore-Lieberman 2000. Sort of like the way I am working on the campaign to restore journalistic standards to the NY Times. And since the possible concealment of a possible partisan tilt by DeLong is at issue here, the subtleties just are not that relevant. Tell the readers, let the readers decide. Simple.

Well, I'm excited now. Because I'm pretty darn sure that Blogger will publish this.

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