Chronicle of the Conspiracy
Friday, June 06, 2003
Right. And Times reporters and op-ed columnists need to plagiarize, make up sources, suck stringers, distort quotes and all the rest of it that got Jayson Blair and Howell Raines thrown out -- but are still standard operating procedure for the likes of Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, and the rest of the Times op-ed page chop-shop.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:06 PM | link
But Dr. A found Tom DeLay's entire statement in this June 4 story in USA Today. And just as was the case with Krugman's quote from Grover Norquist in today's column, the meaning is precisely the opposite of the impression that Krugman gives.
Dr. A: "Doesn't this exclusion of the second part of the quote completely change its meaning? Am I missing something here?" If you agree with Dr. A, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh... and by the way... this was no "last minute" "change in wording," as
Krugman asserts (in his previous column, he called it a "last-minute
switcheroo"). As Senate Finance Committee chair Charles Grassley
on May 29, before either column was written, "The
accelerated refundable child tax credit was not in the President’s original
proposal, and it was not in the bill passed by the House of Representatives."
The non-inclusion of this Senate provision in the House/Senate
conference bill puts it on equal footing with about a hundred of other faces
on the law-making room floor.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:17 PM | link
Here's Krugman, talking about Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform (whom Krugman identifies instead as "the right-wing ideologue who has become one of the most powerful men in Washington"):
So what do you come away thinking? First, that this quote is something that Norquist said. Second, that its implies his endorsement of coercive and abusive partisan legislative strategies. Hold those thoughts...
Here's the way that quote appeared in the original Denver Post on May 26:
This was picked up by Al Kamen in his Washington Post column on May 28:
Kamen, unlike Krugman, isn't ashamed to admit his mistakes. In his next column, on June 2, he wrote:
Okay, let's add up the score. Krugman repeats a two-week old quote from another newspaper which had already been picked up by another columnist -- and corrected by that columnist. The correction revealed that the quote was both not Norquist's, and that its meaning was not to call for coercive and abusive Republican partisanship, but to complain about coercive and abusive Democratic partisanship.
Now will the Times issue a correction? Probably not. But if you think they should, send an email to email@example.com.
Thanks to Jonathan Collegio, the director of communications for Americans for Tax Reform, for pointing this out.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:51 PM | link
The proximate cause of Raines' resignation -- and that of managing editor Gerald Boyd -- is the Jayson Blair scandal. But there are deeper reasons that had been developing under the surface ever since Raines took the helm 20 months ago, just waiting for an opportunity to break into the open. One is Raines' autocratic and divisive management style, which the Times itself admits in its own self-coverage of the event:
Bully for the Times in going beyond the superficial excuse of the Blair scandal. But of course there's something else at work here, something that the Times is not yet prepared to admit. Raines had to do because the Times' relentless and reckless ultra-left wing agenda was destroying the world's greatest newspaper franchise.
Raines was the instrument of the destruction, with his rogues gallery of radical liberal op-ed screedsters and his capricious and exploitive "flood the zone" campaigns against Enron, Augusta, the war in Iraq, the peace in Iraq, Bush's tax cuts, and all the rest. But Raines is not, ultimately, to blame. Raines is no more than the creature of publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the scion of the family dynasty that owns the Times who elevated Raines first to editorial page editor in 1992 and then to executive editor in 2001, specifically because of his sympathy with Sulzberger's leftist viewpoints (according to Ken Auletta's 2002 New Yorker portrait of Raines). Sulzberger's liberal views extended not just to editorial positioning, but to the very mission and managerial style of the New York Times Company itself, of which he is chairman.
Arthur Silber pointed out yesterday on his Light of Reason blog the "mission statement" that appears as the last sentence of the boilerplate paragraph at the bottom of every Times Company press release, including the one issued today announcing Raines' resignation. This statement has appeared on every press release since at least early 1999, long before Raines was named executive editor.
Consider all that is revealed in just 18 remarkable words. First, the "core purpose" to "enhance society." Perhaps such a thing would be a worthy goal for the Ford Foundation, but the shareholders of this for-profit corporation should be quite concerned by its seeming elevation of utopianism above earnings. It's especially ironic coming from a newspaper whose business columnist Gretchen Morgenson regularly lacerates "greedy" CEO's for not putting their shareholders first.
To "enhance society," Sulzberger officiated over an aggressive affirmative action program that first elevated and then protected Jayson Blair -- a mistake that has forever tarnished the 152-year old newspaper's brand image. But the "enhance society" end justifies even Blair's fraudulent means. After all, the mission statement specifically calls for "creating" news. And isn't that exactly what Blair did?
"Enhancing society" is exactly the kind of thing that Paul Krugman thinks that "plutocrats" -- especially inheritors like Sulzberger -- should be doing. Krugman wrote last year,
It's chilling to imagine someone like Krugman sitting in judgment of what is required for people to "justify their existence" -- one immediately has visions of Robespierre and the guillotine. Yet this is exactly the judgment that Sulzberger submitted himself to. But he's wising up -- and just in time, before the dollars-and-cents judgment of the Sulzberger dynasty decides it's "off with his head."
Just three weeks ago Sulzberger said, "If Howell were to offer his resignation, I wouldn't accept." Oh well... a-tisket, a-tasket, a head in a basket. It can't answer the questions you ask it.
Other newspapers are getting the message, too. Two weeks ago John Carroll, the editor of the ultra-liberal Los Angeles Times, sent a memo to staff forcefully forbidding liberal bias in news stories. Carroll wrote with astonishing candor,
So Raines is out, and retired executive editor Joseph Lelyveld has come back on an interim basis to manage a transition to new leadership. What happens to Paul Krugman and the rest of Raines' menagerie?
My guess is: nothing immediately. And I suspect he'll get away with it for a while, as the Times will no doubt wish to focus its reform efforts where it will count the most -- in returning the paper's "core purpose" to reporting the news rather than "creating" it. The spin will be that the editorial pages are just opinion, so they're fine as they are. There will be change there -- a key "retirement" here, a new more moderate voice there, maybe some new source-citing and fact-checking guidelines. All to the good.
But at least for the near term, if I know Krugman, he'll turn up the volume on his ultra-liberal ranting and raving just to show he has nothing to apologize for and nothing to fear. But don't worry -- Raines or no Raines, we won't let any Krugman lies slip by unchallenged.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:45 AM | link
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Times Company shareholders will be distressed to learn that the company's mission is to "enhance society" rather than shareholder value. And readers will be concerned that the Company sees itself in the business of "creating" news.
It's really all so shockingly honest. And from the Times, yet.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:13 PM | link
RAINES AND BOYD RESIGN I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like victory.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:17 AM | link
Here's my non-rhetorical answer: Yes! Ja! Da! Oui! Si! Hai! I always knows exactly when Krugman is exaggerating (that's easy: Tuesdays and Fridays).
This time the exaggerations (and the lies and the distortions and the out-of-context quotes and the bogus statistics and all the rest) are in service of the Times' latest "flood the zone" attack on the President Bush -- trying to make it seem that Bush lied about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Krugman states,
James Taranto, on his blog Best of the Web Today, calls this Krugman op-ed "an unusually deranged column even by his standards." And he gets right to the heart of darkness in the Times' -- and the left's -- flood-the-zone strategies to discredit the president:
Musil read that statement deeply, and concludes that it's a remarkable confession -- an accidental confession, but a confession nevertheless -- that the New York Times is liberally biased:
Krugman continues to present the British press as exemplars of honest political analysis (that is, views that agree with his own). In his May 30 column he quoted a Financial Times Bush-bashing editorial as though it were especially authoritative -- and now he's quoting the Telegraph.
William Sjostrom notes on his AtlanticBlog, that the Telegraph article containing this quote was posted Monday on the web site of a Brad DeLong (an ultra-liberal UC Berkeley Professor and Krugman wannabe who briefly had a column in the Times several years ago -- Krugman and DeLong are a liberal, Bush-bashing folie a deux, with DeLong linking to Krugman frequently, and always adoringly, and Krugman returning the favor). DeLong introduces the Hastings column by saying it comes from the "genuinely conservative" Telegraph (much as last week Krugman positioned the FT as "normally staid") --
Cribbing? It's worse than that -- in DeLong's hands, positioning Hastings as "genuinely conservative" is a bit of a flim-flam -- but Krugman turns it into an outright lie: that Hastings "supported Britain's participation in the war." Musil warns of a "Krugman/DeLong rhetorical inflationary cycle" in which,
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:26 AM | link
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
New York Times headline: "Greenspan Is Upbeat on Economy..."
NOW YOU TELL US Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on Bush's tax cuts: they "will create a fairly marked increase in after-tax income in the third quarter and one must presume that a goodly part of that will filter into consumer markets" and lead to more hiring." And, ""Fortuitously, this particular cut in taxes is happening at the right time although I doubt if one could have planned that in advance."
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:31 PM | link
Paul Krugman's New York Times column, January 29, 2002:
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:49 AM | link
But the best single paragraph is about Bush's tax cuts. It says, in part:
Krugman thus joins another Howell Raines "flood-the-zone" attack (in the fine Times tradition of its coverage of Enron and the non-admission of women members to Augusta). In under a week Times readers have already had inflicted upon them to this May 29 story by David Firestone, this May 30 editorial, this June 1 follow-up by Firestone, these five June 1 letters (4 supporting the Times' position), and this June 2 op-ed by Bob Herbert.
But in none of that coverage is there any mention of the strongly worded refutation by Senate Finance Committee chair Charles Grassley of the Times lie that Krugman repeats here -- that there was a "last-minute switcheroo." As Grassley puts it,
And how about some sources... there are none. It's just "you've heard about." Krugman now expects us to source his claims about taxes from the "impeccable statistical work" of the liberal think tanks he mentioned on his personal website last week. I checked those web sites, and I couldn't find anything about "eight million children denied any tax break." In fact I couldn't find anything about eight million children who even pay taxes in the first place.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:16 AM | link
Monday, June 02, 2003
Recent events? Maybe it's just me, but Wag the Dog evokes nothing but memories of the time in August 1998 when Bill Clinton deployed cruise missiles against what turned out to be a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, on the same day that Monica Lewinsky delivered her most damning grand jury testimony.
Krugman's column itself evokes another movie altogether -- the parallels are truly eerie. Remember the most horrifying scene in A Beautiful Mind when John Nash -- an economist, and Princeton-based no less! -- is descending into madness? His long-suffering wife throws open the doors of Nash's isolated workshop and discovers a room papered floor to ceiling with layer upon layer of clippings from magazines and newspapers with seemingly random passages highlighted, connected together with push-pins and tangled bits of yarn -- the encoded evidence in Nash's disturbed brain of a vast plot to destroy America. If you don't think Krugman's latest column is that room, you're in denial.
Let's trace the yarn in Krugman's column, from clipping to clipping, to see the evidence assembled in Krugman's not-so-beautiful mind that the war in Iraq was a Wag the Dog fake staged by the Bush administration.
First there's the completely unsubstantiated accusation that the war's "Kodak moments — the toppling of the Saddam statue, the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch — seem to have been improved by editing." TimesWatch conjectures that
Follow the yarn to the next push-pin -- this one attached to a clipping from the Financial Times. As I've pointed out (here and here), the FT has been on an anti-Bush shooting spree, and Krugman now loves to quote it. This time he says,
Why is anyone surprised? President Bush himself had already declared his military resolve way back in September, in his address to the United Nations -- but that doesn't mean, and the May 26 FT story that Krugman cites does not contend -- that subsequent diplomatic efforts were fraudulent, as Krugman suggests.
But Krugman suggests more than that, when he pulls that particular quote from the FT story -- "''A tin-pot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger inside the White House.'" Krugman is trying to make it seem as though Bush just plain old lost his Texas temper, and that the commitment to war was nothing more than personal pique. But go read the whole story, and you'll see that Krugman's pulling that quote out of context is as vicious a fraud as his colleague Maureen Dowd's infamous May 14 New York Times column in which she elided a Bush quote to make it seem that the President was boasting that Al Qaeda had been completely eliminated.
In the FT story the quote is directly preceded by this paragraph:
The "mocking," then, is Saddam Hussein's abrogation of the diplomatic process -- and the White House's "anger" is because Saddam left it no choice but to pursue costly and hazardous military options.
The next clipping we find pinned to the wall of Krugman's demented workshop is from an as-yet unpublished issue of Vanity Fair, containing a seemingly damning quote that suggests the Bush administration was insincere about its belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction:
Apparently Vanity Fair published a press release last week announcing an interview with Paul Wolfowitz by reporter Sam Tannenhaus. I haven't been able to obtain the actual press release, but it seems the Wolfowitz quote was presented just that way -- ellipsis and all -- at least that's how it was picked up on Wednesday in USA Today, which may be where Krugman found it. But he should have checked his sources, instead of just reporting on the media reporting on the media. By Thursday, the day before Krugman's column was published, the Pentagon had posted the entire 9,999-word Wolfowitz interview, and -- surprise, surprise, surprise! -- that quote was both inaccurately transcribed and taken entirely out of context, and it completely reversed Wolfowitz's intent.
Tannenhaus admitted in the interview that "...I type as we speak, which is one reason I'll want to see the transcript just so I don't make errors. I'm reliable, but I'm not a letter-perfect typist." He must not have bothered to follow through, or perhaps he liked his version better -- but here's that same sentence, according to the Pentagon's transcribed recording:
In the true version it's no longer Wolfowitz confessing that the hunt for WMDs was just an institutional expedient -- he's talking about the process of complex institutional decision-making. But more important is this sentence's context. The conversation both before and after it concerns several other reasons for action against Iraq, including links to terrorism, the cruelty of Saddam's regime, and the desirability of being able to withdraw US troops from Saudi Arabia. Wolfowitz is hardly "playing down the whole W.M.D. issue" -- he's saying it's the key issue about which everyone could agree! And elsewhere in the interview Wolfowitz makes it clear that he fully believes that Saddam had WMDs -- to Wolfowitz, the only mystery is why Saddam didn't use them in the war.
But for Krugman, it's simply an established fact now that "No evidence of the Qaeda link has ever surfaced, and no W.M.D.'s that could have posed any threat to the U.S. or its allies have been found." David Hogberg refutes that on his blog Cornfield Commentary:
Wolfowitz -- in a part of the interview naturally not seen as fit to print by Krugman -- adds, "...we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around." Back to Hogberg:
Or we could just follow the yarn back to a Krugman column published just two weeks ago, in which he blamed the Bush administration for "...an orgy of looting — including looting of nuclear waste dumps that, incredibly, we failed to secure. Dirty bombs, anyone?" Now is it just me, or does a dirty bomb sound like something that could pose a "threat to the U.S. or its allies"?
And, inevitably, the tangled yarn finally leads to a clipping from Krugman's favorite source for war news -- the BBC.
But it turns out that Krugman's version of the BBC story is what's uncorroborated -- by the actual content of the BBC story, that is. Hogberg found John H. Hinderaker of the Power Line blog has tracked down the BBC story, "Iraq Weapons Dossier 'Rewritten'". Hinderaker writes,
Why does Krugman go on like this, clipping his clippings and linking them together and searching endlessly for the key to the secret code that will reveal the truth about the Bushie plot to hijack America? Is he just plain nuts -- or does he think if he follows in John Nash's footsteps that someday he, too, will get the Nobel Prize in economics? If that's his plan he's going to learn that there are a couple of very real differences between himself and Nash. First, Nash made a fundamental contribution to the science of economics. And second, Nash lived out his paranoid delusions in private -- not every Tuesday and Friday on the pages of the New York Times.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:45 AM | link
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Here's an example that is, admittedly, incredibly trivial. Yet its very triviality reveals the extent to which the Times' political agenda has completely permeated every nook and cranny of the paper. In today's Book Review section, there is a round-up of gardening books by Jamaica Kincaid, identified as "a novelist and the garden editor of Architectural Digest." At the end of the round-up, following descriptions of books such as Tree Bark: A Color Guide and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, Kincaid concludes with:
Note that Kincaid says utterly nothing about what the book is about, merely that it is "important," that the author "writes so well" (get me rewrite! -- writes so well that... what??), and that the book contains "advice on how to do all sorts of things" (presumably having to do with gardening). What gets all the ink is the book's introduction, which just so happens to be by someone "who writes editorials for The New York Times," and which just so happens to tell the story of how a gardener who was a radical conservative became a gardener who was a radical liberal. And we learn that, according to Kincaid's lights, a gardener who becomes a radical liberal is, presumably by virtue of his political beliefs (because no other reason is given), "exactly the kind of gardening friend I would like to be with in my garden."
And then, remarkably, this closing sentence: "But that he comes at this time, only in a book, is enough happiness." What exactly does Kincaid mean by "at this time"? At this time when we all need more gardening advice than ever? I doubt it. She means at this time when we need a good dose of "the radical left" more than ever in this country.
Now if it turned out that Kincaid plagiarized any of that (not that anyone else but the Times would ever publish such a stupid thing), then you can be sure that Howell Raines would convene a staff meeting and pull out his little stuffed moose and Kincaid would be banished back to the pages of Architectural Digest. But overt politicization -- extending all the way to the Sunday Book Review section, and all the way to a review of a book on gardening for crying out loud -- is of no interest to the minions who read the emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:52 PM | link