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May 22, 2005

Daniel Okrent Leaves the New York Times.

Daniel Okrent leaves his job as the Public Editor of the New York Times. One great part of his valedictory piece is this:

2. Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

I didn't give Krugman, Dowd or Safire the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.

I have to admit I’m in two minds about Krugman’s pieces. Of course the world would be a better place if he returned to explaining economics to the multitudes rather than his current highly partisan take. But that would also deprive me of my lucrative little sideline in correcting the selectivity of his facts and statistics (something which seems likely to go when the NYT starts charging for access to the OpEd pages anyway). Maybe Don Luskin is similarly conflicted (although he does seem to be angry with Okrent).

May 22, 2005 in Media | Permalink


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