But the New York Times offers no fact-check: This morning, in his New York Times column, Paul Krugman outlines a major misstatement by Mitt Romney at Wednesday night’s debate.
What do you call a misstatement like this? As his column begins, Krugman samples various names:
KRUGMAN (10/5/12): Romney's Sick JokeKrugman flirted with several names for Romney’s misstatement—a totally absent-minded mistake his campaign has corrected before.
“No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t—as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.
Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this election.
Krugman suggested that Romney may have been “lying.” He flatly said that Romney had made an “attempt to deceive voters on this issue.”
He said that Romney made many claims in the course of the evening which were “misleading and/or dishonest claims.”
A “misleading” claim may be unintentional. A “dishonest” claim is not.
The claim in question involves health care—a matter of life and death. According to Krugman, tens of millions of people are involved in the sweep of Romney’s false statement.
For the full discussion, you should read Krugman’s column. Regarding the question of what to call it, this is where Krugman ends up:
KRUGMAN: One could wish that Mr. Obama had made this point effectively in the debate. He had every right to jump up and say, “There you go again”: Not only was Mr. Romney’s claim fundamentally dishonest, it has already been extensively debunked, and the Romney campaign itself has admitted that it’s false.What did Krugman end up calling it? Romney’s claim was “fundamentally dishonest,” he said. Romney “tried to mislead the public.”
For whatever reason, the president didn’t do that, on health care or on anything else. But, as I said, never mind the theater criticism. The fact is that Mr. Romney tried to mislead the public, and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.
Excitable children like to throw the L-bomb—“lie”—all around. In most cases, this represents an excellent way to lose a political argument. That said, Romney is one of the great dissemblers in modern American political history.
The example Krugman cites involves life and death—and Romney’s campaign has corrected this absent-minded “mistake” before. This leads us to Krugman’s question:
Will Romney be allowed to get away with it? What will the press corps do?
Incredibly, there is no fact-check feature today in our hard-copy Times! But then, there was also no fact-check feature yesterday in our hard-copy Times.
Looking on-line, we see there was a fact-check feature in yesterday’s later hard-copy editions (click here). The Times seems a bit cavalier about getting this feature to us rubes who receive the "Washington Edition."
In the old days, such basic features were published in early editions one day late.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s fact-check didn’t discuss the inaccurate statement Krugman discusses. This isn't Krugman’s fault, of course. But might we rewrite his last paragraph?
The fact is that Mr. Romney tried to mislead the public. The New York Times fact-check feature didn't do diddly about it.
This isn't Krugman's fault, of course. But for oodles of New York Times readers, Candidate Romney was allowed to get away with this!