Offenders mustn't be named: We’re often surprised by the work of the youngsters. So it was when Steve Benen and Alex “Kid” Pareene wrote about Krugman’s new column.
It does seem that Krugman was criticizing Thomas L. Friedman in today’s piece. But he doesn’t do so by name. Benen, a reliable sycophant, compliments Krugman for the good solid fun to be had from this no-name technique:
BENEN (11/18/11): There’s a great deal to enjoy in Paul Krugman’s work, but one of the lesser-appreciated aspects of his pieces is his willingness to take not-so-subtle shots at his own colleagues.Benen goes on to help us see that Krugman must be discussing Friedman. He prasies Krugman's "willingness" to engage in this sort of tthing. In Benen’s view, Krugman is taking a “not-so-subtle shot” at the pompous pundit.
A few weeks ago, it was sly mockery of David Brooks. In Krugman’s print column today, it was someone else. See if you can read between the lines.
Maybe it all depends on what the meaning of “not-so-subtle” is! Let’s put it this way: Krugman’s shot is subtle enough so that most readers today had no idea who the heck he was talking about. It’s subtle enough so that he didn’t name his target by name!
In context, this failure-to-name was slightly odd, since Krugman had just finished criticizing other journalists for being less than forthright: htt
KRUGMAN (11/18/11): So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?Granted, it isn't quite the same thing. But in that passage, Krugman criticizes “the news media” for failing “to point out who is really refusing to compromise.” But dag! In the very next paragraph, he criticizes a bunch of pundits—while failing to point out who he's talking about!
Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of fear that there would be a political price for seeming intransigent. But this could only happen if the news media were willing to point out who is really refusing to compromise. And they aren’t. If and when the supercommittee fails, virtually all news reports will be he-said, she-said, quoting Democrats who blame Republicans and vice versa without ever explaining the truth.
Pareene says Krugman is following a protocol according to which you aren’t allowed to criticize colleagues by name. We agree that this may be the case. That said, neither Benen nor Pareene says how peculiar this practice is. In point of fact, this is a very strange way to conduct a national discourse. We’re talking about important journalistic errors—and Krugman isn’t allowed to name the folk who create this dreck!
Funny, ain’t it? At Penn State, you couldn’t tattle on Jerry Sandusky. Within our press corps, Thomas L. Friedman gets treated the same darn way!