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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

What Did You Do on Your Vacation?

I hope for his vacation Paul Krugman didn’t go visiting the forests out West with a book of matches, because he sure started a fire with his column on July 2 about Bush’s stock sale while at Harken Energy. Is this simply the power of an idea whose time has come? A bored press corps on a slow news week? Or, a successful bit of news promotion by the DNC? Let’s check this Times story, also dated July 2.

"Just today, Mr. Bush was asked about his sale of stock 12 years ago in the Harken Energy Corporation, a company whose board he had joined after selling it another company he had run. …
The transaction was examined at the time by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which took no action against him. The issue came up again today after Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times, recounted the transaction and noted that the commission's decision not to pursue the case came while Mr. Bush's father was president.

But Democrats sense in the corporate scandals an issue that might finally dent Mr. Bush's approval ratings….
"Perhaps the reason the Bush administration took so long to take action on this issue is because they want to avoid having fingers pointed at the president and vice president who engaged in the behavior they are now attempting to reform," the Democratic National Committee said today in documents it distributed to reporters."

Well, good for them for having their “oppo research” ready. That's major league baseball, folks, so no whining on the other side. And corporate malfeasance is in the news, with hearings this week and legislation moving, so the forest was dry. Lucky for the DNC that someone finally threw a match.

UPDATE: A reader thinks that The Times opens up to us on their sources.

UPDATE 2: Byron York of NRO digs in to this. Summary: American Family Voices, a left wing group, pushed the story until Krugman picked it up and ran.

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