The worst news report we saw last week!


Krugman explains where it came from: The worst news report we saw last week appeared in the New York Times.

We refer to the featured news report in Thursday’s National section. In the hard-copy New York Times, the news report appeared beneath these headlines:

Better News In New Study That Assesses U.S. Students
Majority Outperform International Average

Those headlines were strange on their own. It has been known since December that American students outperformed the international average on both tests in question. (The tests in Grade 8 science and math on the 2011 TIMSS.)

That said, the report which ran beneath those headlines was a jumbled, incompetent mess. It was written by Motoko Rich, a New York Times education reporter who graduated summa cum laude from Yale in the early 1990s.

Rich’s piece is such a mess that we’ll plan to examine it in detail next week. But how could a person with that pedigree compose such a jumbled mess?

Paul Krugman may have answered that question in Friday’s column! He was talking about Alan Greenspan’s bungled economic predictions when he did.

A group of ranking public figures keep predicting economic doom, Krugman noted. Their predictions keep turning out to be wrong, but journalists agree not to notice.

In the passage shown below, Krugman comments on a failed prediction by Greenspan. In the first passage we highlight, Krugman explains the way our current “journalistic” system works:
KRUGMAN (10/24/13): As I’ve already suggested, there are two remarkable things about this kind of doomsaying. One is that the doomsayers haven’t rethought their premises despite being wrong again and again—perhaps because the news media continue to treat them with immense respect...

It’s actually awesome, in a way, to realize how long cries of looming disaster have filled our airwaves and op-ed pages. For example, I just reread an op-ed article by Alan Greenspan in The Wall Street Journal, warning that our budget deficit will lead to soaring inflation and interest rates. What about the reality of low inflation and low rates? That, he declares in the article, is “regrettable, because it is fostering a sense of complacency.”

It’s curious how readily people who normally revere the wisdom of markets declare the markets all wrong when they fail to panic the way they’re supposed to. But the really striking thing at this point is the date: Mr. Greenspan’s article was published in June 2010, almost three and a half years ago—and both inflation and interest rates remain low.

So has the ex-Maestro reconsidered his views after having been so wrong for so long? Not a bit. His new (and pretty bad) book declares that “the bias toward unconstrained deficit spending is our top domestic economic problem.”
Greenspan’s gloomy prediction turned out to be wrong—but he just keeps making similar predictions! And then you see that highlighted statement, in which Krugman describes the way our “journalists” react to such events:

Despite the fact that Greenspan and the other doomsayers are “wrong again and again,” “the news media continue to treat them with immense respect.”

Krugman names other famous doomsayers who have made failed predictions. He doesn’t name any journalists.

That said, Krugman’s column explains the way our world actually works:
The way our “journalistic” world works
High-ranking establishment figures issue a set of Official Approved Ideas and Beliefs. No matter how many times their claims turn out to be wrong, the press corps agrees not to notice.

The elite figures advancing these claims are treated as sacred beings. Journalists refuse to note their endless mistakes and misstatements.
What’s described isn’t journalism, of course. But it is the way our “journalistic” world works.

As with economics, so with public schools! Doomsayers walk the land, issuing morbid proclamations. In the case of the public schools, their cries are often inaccurate.

But our nation’s “journalists” know they mustn’t notice that fact. The doomsayers are sacred beings! Their gloomy claims carry the force of law.

On Thursday, a summa cum laude Yale graduate wrote a puzzling, jumbled report. How did she produce such a mess?

We can’t really answer that question. Is it possible that Krugman’s column has given us part of our answer?

Still coming: Friedman in Shanghai


  1. I'm not even sure that the press gives doomsayers a pass when their predictions don't come true as much as they give a pass to anyone inside the Palace, whatever their problems, unless they happen to be throwing stones at other people in the Palace.

  2. Except that the second Krugman "quote" ("The way our 'journalistic world works') does appear in the formerly referenced Krugman column, and doesn't sound like Krugman at all.

    Source, please?

    1. oops. should read "does NOT appear in the formerly referenced Krugman column, and doesn't sound like Krugman at all.

    2. The source is Somerby. The second set of words, although offset like a quote is not preceeded with a "name/date" like the first quote. It is a paraphrase, not a quote.

    3. It is an extrapolation of the comments about the financial world to the journalistic world. I think it should have been clarified that he was not continuing to quote Krugman. On the other hand, sometimes the online versions of columns are different than the print versions, so perhaps this appeared under Krugman's name (or something similar not available at the link given for the first quote).

    4. Really, guys? It's now acceptable now to suggest that your own words are someone's else, and that (in this case) you're quoting Paul Krugman?

      We learned recently that Fox has paid employees posing as commenters on its own sites and no doubt elsewhere -- which explains David in Cal, among others here -- but bloggers quoting themselves and pretending the words come from elsewhere is an even more perverse approach.

      What next? Somerby using his own words to have Krugman denounce Gail Collins?

    5. Holy mother of Jesus! Methinks you're making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    6. He doesn't actually attribute his paragraph to Krugman.

    7. holy shit did some of you honestly think that the "way our journalistic world works" was a Krugman quote?

    8. And of course the "quote" Bob indented and said it was the crux of Krugman's column wasn't that at all -- unless, or course, Simpson, Bowles and Greenspan are members of the "mainstream media."

      Krugman's column wasn't about the same bullroar that was the "War on Gore" that left Somerby sleepless lo these 13+ years.

      It was about economics -- and people who should know better ignoring reality.

      Ignoring empirical evidence is a much different proposition than making up some quotes and stories to define a candidate that is not particularly well liked.

      And this, rather than the propensity of one side trying to define the other during a political campaign, is at the heart of the breakdown of our "american discourse".

      Facts and truth just don't matter. Thus we get the climate change deniers, the economy Chicken Littles, and the "health care is Socialism" crackpots.

  3. perhaps not completely anonymousOctober 26, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Seems to me that Krugman himself has made "mistakes" although since I believe that Krugman KNOWS (or should know, considering his education) that what he wrote was wrong - Krugman has told lies. Lies to support the Obama administration's policies.

    The pseudo-liberal pundit world either does not understand or has agreed not to notice. Once again, I stand on my tiny internet soapbox and call him out (somewhat angrily)

    1. As I recall, Krugman has been critical of Obama's economy policies, especially with respect to the need for stimulus, but also over Obama's call to modify social security.

    2. As we recall, Krugman perpetrated a major league false claim about a fact (not the same as making a wrong prediction). His correction of that error was misleading, and the NYT failed to note the error every possible place the Krugman piece appeared tro perpetrate said false fact.

      Therfore much as BOB wants us to believe Krugman is correctly explaining things in this column, we no longer trust Krugman, who is also often silent and fails to name names, or at least the the correct names.

      Kruman explains nothing for us anyomore since Krugman crossed the line.

      Zarkon (Emperor Daizabaal from Doom)

    3. Don't you think you'd have better luck scolding Krugman by reaching out to him, or at least commenting on blogs he reads?

      The Democratic Underground claims about ATRA are unsourced, fyi.

    4. Apparently, good Emperor Zarkon, our Bobinistas are not only humor-challenged, they are well trained as JoshSN demonstrates.

      Like every good Bobinista, he has no problem believing in Krugman when Bob tells him it is OK, and disbelieving in Krugman when Bob tells him Krugman is full of it.

      It's easier than thinking for oneself.

    5. For God's sake, just go away, all of you.

    6. Anonymous@1:39. I tend to give Krugman the benefit of the doubt, unlike Anonymous Cowards. If someone says he's wrong, I'll need an argument. An argument is a premise and some supporting evidence. "PNCA" provided a premise, but no supporting evidence. You provide nothing at all, but I suspect that's your typical mode.

    7. Josh

      Not that you, or anybody else, is ever likely to read this.

      First of all, do I REALLY need a source for the claim that "ATRA cuts taxes relative to the expiration of the (expletive deleted) Bush tax cuts".

      That was the key difference between what Krugman claimed - that ATRA reduced inequality and what I claimed, that ATRA increased inequality.

      Krugman looked at inequality compared to the continuation of the Bush tax cuts. However, since the Busht tax cuts were expiring, no legislation was needed to STOP them from continuing. ATRA, instead of letting them expire, made most of the Bush tax cuts permanent.

      Compared to even more disgusting legislation - making them all permanent, this does reduce inequality. But compared to a much better outcome - letting them all expire, ATRA increases inequality.

      As for a source on the numbers $1.3 trillion and $370 billion. That might be one trouble right there.

      If I wrote that California has 156,000 square miles and Delaware has 2,000 would you demand a source for that?

      Why aren't the distributional numbers for ATRA as easy to look up? Why did Congress just pass $6 trillion in tax cuts and nobody even TALKED about - who gets the money? Doesn't anybody in America even care who gets how much of that $6 trillion?

      No, they don't.

      Because nobody on TV bothered to talk about it (not even Krugman) and nobody in the papers bothered to talk about it (not even Krugman).

      So the only voice screaming about it in anger was just me, some crank on a park bench (or obscure blog) speaking to an audience of a few dozen.

      Well, Citizens for Tax Justice too (another Bob, LOL) is where I got those numbers.

      But he did not include the AMT patch.

      The truth is out there, Scully, the truth is out there.

      Don't just say "your numbers are no good, because they are unsourced". If you doubt those numbers, then do some digging and refudiate them with your own source.

  4. the doomsayers haven’t rethought their premises despite being wrong again and again—perhaps because the news media continue to treat them with immense respect

    I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I can't help noting how well this comment applies to the IPCC and other climate change doomsayers.

    1. David, when climate change scientists are wrong, they say so. In general, it has been climate change models that have been wrong, about things like the rate of change and local effects. For example, the ice sheets have been melting faster than predicted. The paleolithic record has not changed and it clearly shows warming. It isn't clear what exactly you think should be changed about climate change theory. Do you think the current droughts, wildfires, storms, and shifting of ecological boundaries among plants and animals are not problematic for our world economies?

      Underlying the problems in Syria are droughts that have caused huge population shifts as people have moved from rural areas to cities, unable to sustain themselves. The influx of people seeking housing and jobs created turmoil and unrest arising from poverty. This was directed toward the government, which was unable to cope with the problems of its people. THAT is why there is civil war in Syria. At heart is climate change affecting crops, herds and subsistence farming. Tell me global warming doesn't matter and that the "climate change doomsayers" are wrong about impacts on people.

    2. I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I can't help noting how well this comment applies to the IPCC and other climate change doomsayers.

      [ That is because you are a rotten liar, but you know that and just play the crazy lying game. ]


      "The IPCC lead authors are experts in their field, instructed to fairly represent the full range of the up-to-date, peer-reviewed literature. Consequently, the IPCC reports tend to be cautious in their conclusions. Comparisons to the most recent data consistently finds that climate change is occurring more rapidly and intensely than indicated by IPCC predictions."

      So, slowly, so as not to hurt yourself, pull your head out of your ass.

  5. When people have a strong ideological carapace it appears they can only adjust their opinions by a few degrees at a time.

    In this article, by Motoko Rich (which I agree is a disaster) two, or perhaps three, new bits of information have gotten through the chinks.

    The first is that there are and have been several kinds of international tests, or at least one, other than PISA, namely the TIMSS.

    The second is that US students do not score all that badly on the TIMSS, a huge admission (concession) on the part of the crisis mongers.

    The third is that some people (such as Diane Ravitch and Bob Somerby, to name two) have been relatively effective in pointing this out to the public at large. Such headway has this new information been making that it is becoming impossible to suppress it or to marginalize those who point it out any longer.

    The rest of Motoko Rich's article represents a desperate flailing about to rationalize this novel information to fit her blinkered outlook. -E

  6. Amanda Ripley has also let a fact out of the bag that contradicts a bit of entrenched "elite" corporate ideology.

    I saw her on Education Nation a week or so ago gently contradicting a self-important captain of industry who was loudly and forcefully asserting that the big reason, in his opinion, why foreign countries outscore US students by a big margin [sic], was that they separate the more intelligent ones out very early and provide them with an accelerated curriculum (this appears to be an elitist dogma).

    Ms Ripley, to her credit, countered that, no, the countries which had made the greatest and most rapid improvements were those that had postponed tracking to the most advanced ages. (This is her story of Poland and Finland and i gather that it is one that even the very conservative "edu-economist" concurs with).

    I don't know if the CEO even heard, much less processed what Ms Ripley was saying. He gave no sign that he did. But at least this tidbit of factual information is reaching a fairly broad, and presumably new, audience.

    The other information that Ripley is popularizing to an audience that presumably agrees with her premises, is that Korea's system might not be so great.- E

  7. OMB (Mumble in the Jumble)

    So in a post subtitled Krugman explains where it came from, we lead immediately into a claim about the worst news report. Several paragraphs down we learn the NYT piece that is given an Olbermannesque "worst" rating is not written by NYT columnist Krugman, but one of their reporters.

    Before we find that fact out, in this piece with a subheaded about Krugman, we are told the NYT headline is strange. the headline is strange. Then we are told the piece is a jumbled incompetent mess, but we won't be told why until or if the blogger fells like it later.

    Finally we segue to Krugman. Who names names but not the right ones, so BOB skips most of the ones Krugman does name in his Piece Which Explains.

    So, after a post Headed the Worst News and subheaded Krugman Explain Where It Came From, we get a Krugman rehash about economic gloom and journalistic coverage therof. In this section we have a paragraph indented which appears to be a Krugman quote in format but reads like a BOBism stylistically and which does not appear in the online version of the Krugman Explains Where Something or other Worst came from.

    BOBus H. CRYst, a jumbled incompetent post like this couldn't have been by someone with not just an Ivy pedigree, but a high Ivy Harvard degree could it?


    1. funny i didn't have any trouble following Bob's post

    2. k(ray)Z - what purpose or you supposed to be serving???

    3. I would ask you the same thing AC MA, concerning that particular bit of wisdom. Since I can't figure out your purpose, I'll simply say you don't have one.

      Seems to me to be just another Bobette saying, "If you don't love Bob, please leave this blog."

    4. I, too, had no problem following this post.

    5. Anon 8:24, I just asked what his or her purpose was, which I don't get. So TDH isn't infallible and there are flaws, real or debatable, in his point of view, it seems KZ veers into sophism in his criticism. And why, given TDH's weak points, is so much sour sarcasm from his critics called for?

    6. AC/MA, the one thing that KZ does quite effectively is mimick the style of Somerby in his criticism of Somerby.

      Somerby's blog utterly drips with "sour sarcasm" so if you find that so distasteful, one must wonder why criticism of it is reserved for Somerby's critics, not for Somerby himself.

      One might call Somerby's affliction a case of deep-seated projection. Not being a shrink, I simply call it seeing the specks in the eyes of others, and not the beam in your own, which of course, is hardly original.

    7. Anon1:30, the talking point for criticizing Somerby seems to be to paint him as a hypocrite. No one here buys that. We don't care whether Somerby is as sour or human or flawed as those he criticizes. They have a different role in society than Somerby does. They have different responsibilities, different influence on public discourse, different expectations for their performance than Somerby does as a citizen blogger. You are wasting your time, as are your various sockpuppets.

    8. "No one here buys that."

      Love it when a Bobinista reads everybody's mind and knows what everyone does and doesn't buy. Come to think of it, doesn't he talk about mind-reading? A lot?

    9. KZ pulls another yet another turd out of his ample ass, and a few KZinistas run to praise the glistening "criticism" of Somerby. Hilarious! KZ FTW!

    10. Ah, I see the Bobinistas have drawn the tribal lines quite clearly. Let the war continue.

    11. Wow. Glad to see we still have 'em typing.

      Just to respond to the first Anon and JoshSN, I had no trouble following BOB or Matoko Rich.


  8. Education economist Eric Hanushek, I meant to write above. He is the source of her dodgy statistics. -E

  9. Bob refers to the well-know fact that reporters tend to repeat each other, and to accept the opinions of "very serious people" without ever checking out the truth.

    Krugman also refers to these phenomena.


    This is a tiny fraction of what Krugman says about journalists and this repetition of "scripted news".

    Krugman is even credited with the term!

    Now, take note the first SENTENCE:

    "A message to my fellow journalists: Check out media watch sites like, and"

    Paul Krugman: Reading from the same script

    As any fool can plainly see, both Somerby and Krugman have been describing this behavior of our media for at LEAST nine years.

    That's a horse of another color.

  10. اننا نقدم ارخص اسعار نقل العفش الى مصر من الرياض

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    ونتميز ايضا باننا نقوم بتغليف و تركيب العفش
    شركة نقل عفش من الرياض الى مصر
    افضل شركة شحن عفش

    ان نقل اثاث بالاحساء يحتاج الى مهارات خاصة ولابد ان تتم على اكمل زجهة حتى لا يتعرض العفش الى التكسير

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