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May 28, 2005

Krugman on Okrent.

TigerHawk was at a speech that Paul Krugman gave at Princeton and took extensive notes. Interesting stuff Mr. K came out with while talking to a supportive (ie no conservative said anything) crowd. Specifically he responded to the criticism by Daniel Okrent thusly:

One of Krugman's "acolytes" asked him in sympathetic terms if he had anything to say about Okrent's charge. Many of the people in the audience did not understand the reference to Okrent, so Krugman explained that "the public editor" of the Times -- Krugman never once used Okrent's name himself -- "took a very peculiar blast" at him about the misuse of numbers without supplying any evidence. Krugman said that he had exchanged emails with "the public editor" in the last few days in response to the article, and that Okrent had not supplied any instance of Krugman misrepresenting numbers. He attributed Okrent's criticism to pressure from conservatives, and said that Okrent had questioned him about his columns via email since Okrent had come to the paper a year and a half ago, but that he (Krugman) "always had an answer." Okrent, who was "under constant pressure" from conservatives, finally gave up asking Krugman about the columns and "built up a list of grievances in his mind" which he uncorked in his final column.

Basically, Krugman believed that Okrent had a psychological need borne of pressure from conservatives to find misrepresentations in Krugman's work. According to Krugman, there are no such misrepresentations.

Similar stuff came up at Brad DeLong’s yesterday where they were discussing Andrew Sullivan’s swipe at Krugman, and the subsequent email he received. What rather depressed me was a couple of commenters asking for proof that Krugman had been, er, selective with his facts, and when offered two pieces which proved precisely that simply refused to read them.

My own take on it is that columnists are not only allowed but are supposed to pick and choose their facts to get across their point. That’s what they’re for, as opposed to the news pages which should be a great deal more even handed. They should also be  open to people checking which facts they do use and the opinions which they express can and should be challenged. One might want factual errors to be corrected or at least acknowledged but that is rather different from insisting that a columnist include all the facts or appear to be unbiased in his presentation of what evidence he does use.

Anyway, I recommend the rest of TigerHawk’s piece, a nice piece of reportage (with its own inbuilt biases of course).

May 28, 2005 in Media | Permalink

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Comments

There's a mention on the Times' Public Editor page that Krugman and Okrent are going to have it out on that page sometime later this week. Can't wait to see Pablo get kicked around some more!

Posted by: Brainster | May 31, 2005 12:47:01 AM