MAY LOOK LIKE LIBERAL BIAS: Krugman had a list of names!


Part 1—Candidate Carson's lie:
Instantly, they became points of pseudoliberal dogma:

Candidate Carson lied at last Wednesday's debate! And how do we know that Carson lied? Because PolitiFact said!

For ourselves, we wouldn't say that Carson lied, although that could still be demonstrated. We would say this:

The liberal world reacted in an unintelligent, childish way to last Wednesday night's debate. Having said that, we'd also say this:

The moderators from CNBC were unskilled, pitiful, unintelligent, not real serious, clueless. Their hap[less journalistic conduct was a gift to the GOP.

To people in the conservative world, those moderators' hapless performance will look like a famous old demon—media liberal bias. The reaction of pundits like the New York Times' Charles Blow actually is liberal bias.

We'll look at Blow's column tomorrow. Assuming even minimal competence, Blow and his editor agreed to deceive Times readers.

For today, let's consider a performance which was even worse, considering the high caliber of its source. We refer to Paul Krugman's column in last Friday's Times.

Krugman said that Candidate Carson lied, then called him something worse. Below, you see the start of one of the worst columns Krugman has ever written.

To conservatives, work like this looks like that famous old devil, liberal bias. In the case of Krugman's column, we'd say the charge is fair:
KRUGMAN (10/30/15): Springtime for Grifters

At one point during Wednesday’s Republican debate, Ben Carson was asked about his involvement with Mannatech, a nutritional supplements company
that makes outlandish claims about its products and has been forced to pay $7 million to settle a deceptive-practices lawsuit. The audience booed, and Mr. Carson denied being involved with the company. Both reactions tell you a lot about the driving forces behind modern American politics.

As it happens, Mr. Carson lied. He has indeed been deeply involved with Mannatech, and has done a lot to help promote its merchandise. PolitiFact quickly rated his claim false, without qualification. But the Republican base doesn’t want to hear about it, and the candidate apparently believes, probably correctly, that he can simply brazen it out. These days, in his party, being an obvious grifter isn’t a liability, and may even be an asset.
Was Krugman making deceptive claims in that passage? Consider one example:

From that account, a reader would think that the audience booed when Carson was asked about Mannatech—before Carson made his denial. That rather obvious suggestion is just flatly false.

In fact, the audience booed after the second follow-up question by Carl Quintanilla, one of CNBC's trio of hapless moderators. That third question concluded a journalistically hapless exchange which lasted roughly one minute and led to a shower of pleasing tribal claims.

Can we talk? The follow-up question which got booed was just utterly silly. Simply put, Quintanilla's question deserved to be booed.

To conservative voters, questions like Quintanilla's follow-up question will look like examples of liberal bias. For ourselves, we wouldn't make that assumption about the motives behind Quintanilla's question or his overall hapless performance. But then, we also wouldn't change the chronology of an exchange to heighten our case against that Republican audience. And we'd be happy to state the truth:

On a journalistic basis, Quintanilla's follow-up question was hapless. So was a great deal of CNBC's work this night.

Inevitably, performances like CNBC's will trigger cries of liberal bias. So will columns like Krugman's.

In the case of Krugman's column, we'd say the charge is accurate. Here's why:

In the passage shown above, Krugman accuses Candidate Carson of lying at the debate. As he continues, he accuses Carson of something else. He says that Carson's a grifter.

Regarding the claim that Carson lied, Krugman's standard of evidence is remarkably weak. "PolitiFact quickly rated his claim false," Krugman says, as it that "quick" assessment somehow settled this question.

We hate to be the killjoy here, but as the years have rolled along, PolitiFact has performed increasingly lazy work. In this case, PolitiFact's "ruling" (their term) was delivered by Lauren Carroll, who graduated from college in June 2014.

Corporate entities make such hires to keep labor costs down, making owners happy. The quality of the journalism may suffer in the process.

In the case of Carson's claims about Mannatech, Carroll called his statement "a stretch." In our view, she did a rather lazy job sorting out the facts in question. But so what?

Thee careless work of a college kid was good enough for Professor Krugman! Conservatives will call this "liberal bias." We'd say they have a strong point.

We'll examine the claim that Carson lied a bit more as the week rolls on. For today, let's consider Krugman's second claim, the claim that Carson is a "grifter."

Also, consider the ease with which Krugman extends this insulting claim to other Republican candidates. This is the way he continued in this unfortunate column:
KRUGMAN (continuing directly): And this doesn’t just go for outsider candidates like Mr. Carson and Donald Trump. Insider politicians like Marco Rubio are simply engaged in a different, classier kind of scam—and they are empowered in part by the way the grifters have defined respectability down.
That is a very strange paragraph. It provides the gateway to a column which recalls Joe McCarthy's work.

In the course of his column, Krugman says and suggests that he's naming the names of a long list of grifters. That said, please note the lazy bases on which he'll extend this charge.

Presumably, Candidate Carson is a grifter because he has somehow made money from a company's fraudulent claims. PolitiFact offers no evidence of such behavior, but the G-bomb gets dropped anyway.

That ascription is slippery enough. But in the passage posted above, Candidate Trump is quickly called a "grifter" too, with Krugman making no attempt to explain this unpleasant charge. Candidate Rubio is quickly thrown in the stew as well, although he is said to be engaged in a classier kind of scam.

We would agree with that assessment. But note the way this unfortunate column by Krugman proceeds.

As he proceeds, Krugman describes three levels of "grifters." He has already fingered Carson and Trump as grifters, in the latter case with no explanation at all. As he continues, he names the names of other alleged grifters, sometimes naming names and explaining the nature of his charges.

Krugman names names! He names the name of "former Congressman Ron Paul," who isn't an actual candidate.

He also names the name of Glenn Beck. Beck's not a candidate either.

In the course of naming these names, another person who is a candidate seems to get nailed as a grifter. Pulling a list from his inside pocket, Krugman names that additional name rather late in his column:
KRUGMAN: At a higher level still [of grifter scams] are operations that are in principle engaging in political activity, but mainly seem to be generating income for their organizers. Last week The Times published an investigative report on some political action committees raising money in the name of anti-establishment conservative causes. The report found that the bulk of the money these PACs raise ends up going to cover administrative costs and consultants’ fees, very little to their ostensible purpose. For example, only 14 percent of what the Tea Party Leadership Fund spends is “candidate focused.”

You might think that such revelations would be politically devastating. But the targets of such schemes know, just know, that the liberal mainstream media can’t be trusted, that when it reports negative stories about conservative heroes it’s just out to suppress people who are telling the real truth. It’s a closed information loop, and can’t be broken.

And a lot of people live inside that closed loop. Current estimates say that Mr. Carson, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz together have the support of around 60 percent of Republican voters.
Suddenly, Candidate Cruz seems to be maybe a grifter too, without any explanation of how he earned inclusion with previous grifters Carson and Trump. "Furthermore, the success of the grifters has a profound effect on the whole party," Krugman says as he continued. "As I said, it defines respectability down."

Did Krugman define journalistic respectability down with this unfortunate column? This column throws ugly charges around in much the way Tailgunner Joe once did. The whole thing starts with a pleasing passage in which Krugman reinvents a simple chronology to make his pleasing claims stick. He then turns to an underwhelming college kid to settle a serious charge.

Very, very late in his column, Krugman gets to the heart of the mess which surrounds the candidates who stood on that stage last Wednesday night. Only then does he start to explain the way Candidate Rubio's name got thrown into the "grifter stew" he ladled at the start of his column.

Conservative voters will see this column as an example of liberal bias. It's hard to say they're wrong.

The column's straight outta McCarthy! Krugman drops G-bombs on candidates' heads without a hint of explanation or justification. In the case of Candidate Carson, he links to the work of a college kid who doesn't allege that Carson took money on the basis of fake product claims.

Krugman rarely does this, but that column was McCarthyistic. It shows what can happen when Even Our Very Best let tribal feelings hold sway.

Yesterday morning, Krugman was back to a serious column about serious issues. On Friday, though, he performed very poorly.

Here's the worst part of Friday's column. As he rampaged about the grifters, Krugman largely failed to discuss the utterly crazy budget proposals those ten candidates have made. And he failed to do something else:

He failed to discuss the horrible work done by those hapless CNBC moderators.

Please understand the situation those moderators faced last Wednesday night. Before them stood a row of candidates with the craziest budget plans ever presented. Meanwhile, the moderators hailed from a major news org with a focus on business, finance, economics.

Before them stood ten crazy plans. But the moderators engaged in mountains of drivel and oceans of snark. Their utter lack of focus was their defining trait this night. Their pitiful journalistic conduct was a gift to the GOP.

The liberal world has refused to see or say these things. We prefer to rampage around saying that Candidate Carson lied. How do we know he lied? Because a college kid said!

Truly, we liberals are utterly hapless. It's true almost all the way down.

Tomorrow: Charles Blow's liberal bias


  1. The main problem seems to be that Krugman assumes some familiarity with the candidates and doesn't have enough column inches to provide support for his arguments. Liberals know what that support consists of. No amount of evidence will convince conservatives. I think Somerby is technically right abwhat Politifact said, but wrong in saying Carson is not a grifter. The way conservatives deal with money is one of the main divides between the parties. It is right for liberals to make it an issue.

  2. Howler is committing the cardinal sin of false equivalence. Amid right wing delusion and ruthlessness, he rails against press and liberals for not polishing their buttons or abiding by Marquis de Queensbury rules in a street fight. As Hitler's V-2 rockets rain down upon London, Howler scolds Churchill for mispronouncing "Nahzzz-ay."

  3. What can anyone expect from someone who graduated from college in 2014? Colleges that turn out these neurotics are little more than four-year psychotherapy sessions to indulge the psychic pain of feminist or feminized lefties raised as crippled victims.

    1. When did you graduate from college @ 11:56?

    2. I think 11:56 mistook the Howler comment box as a safe place where he would feel awash in a supportive womb like atmosphere.

  4. I hate medical fraud. Medicine is complex. It's too easy to hawk fake nostrums. IMHO a medical doctor who associates himself with medical fraud deserves criticism.

    However, this shouldn't be an important issue. It reflects only indirectly on Carson's being President. As Bob says, his policies are more important. For me, his lack of experience in government and management are his biggest problems.

    I see a parallel with Whitewater. Hillary didn't break the law, just as Carson didn't break any laws with Mannatech. Both of them got into a business relationship with people doing bad things, Hillary entered partnership with two crooks, who went to prison for what they did. She deserves to be criticized for bad judgment.

    Having said that, I don't see Whitewater as an important issue. It happened a long time ago, and Hillary herself didn't break the law.

    1. Carson isn't running for President, he's on a book tour.

    2. Barely 1% of kids raised in Detroit will ever interrupt a Presidential campaign to do a book tour.

      Ben Carson's Mama proves Somerby is right about what poor single illiterate black mothers can do to overcome the 30 Million Word Gap. And the press has never mentioned a word about what Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation is doing to promote this educational supplement.

    3. David, what did those guys go to prison for? Was it related to Whitewater?

    4. It reflects only indirectly on Carson's being President.

      Au contraire, it reflects directly on his character.

      What would you say his "honest and trustworthy" numbers should be if everyone understood what a grifter this guy is?

    5. Caesar -- Yes. There were four partners in Whitewater Development: Bill and Hillary Cllinton; Jim and Susan McDougal. Wikipedia says

      On April 14, 1997, James McDougal was convicted of eighteen felony counts of fraud and conspiracy charges. The counts had to do with bad loans made by Madison in the late 1980s. As his savings and loan was federally-insured, the $68 million was paid by taxpayers.

      Madison S&L was part of the Whitewater scandal.

      [Susan] McDougal was convicted of her role in Whitewater on May 28, 1996, and sentenced to spend time in prison for four counts of fraud and conspiracy relating to the Whitewater scandal... After the judge levied a sentence of two years in federal prison, but before she left the courtroom, Starr had Susan McDougal served with a subpoena for another Whitewater grand jury, to begin two weeks later.[7]...McDougal's grand jury testimony included her response, "Get another independent counsel and I'll answer every question."[10] She was publicly rebuked for refusing to answer "three questions"[11] about whether President Clinton had lied in his testimony during her Whitewater trial, particularly when he denied any knowledge of an illegal $300,000 loan. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright sentenced her for civil contempt of court.

      From September 9, 1996 until March 6, 1998, McDougal spent the maximum possible 18 months imprisonment for civil contempt,

    6. Madison S&L was part of the Whitewater scandal.

      You're full of shit as usual David.
      Madison S & L didn't even exist when the Clintons invested in the Whitewater property.

      Second, no matter how many times you try to mischaracterize Ken Starr's torturing of Susan McDougal, the only reason she went to jail was because she refused to LIE for Ken Starr and Ken Starr was a vindictive sadistic prick.

    7. Oh, David. Whitewater Development Corporation was incorporated in 1979, and Madison S&L was formed, by Jim McDougal, in 1982. The fraudulently obtained loan was in 1986. Susan McDougal refused to testify in 1996.

      You're accusing Hillary of bad judgement for things her partners did years after she went into business with them.

      So I agree with your bottom line, " ... I don't see Whitewater as an important issue. It happened a long time ago, and Hillary herself didn't break the law."

  5. I am glad Blogger Somerby is defending Candidate Cruz against the McCarthyistic attack of Professor Krugman.

    Trust us: People all over the red-state world will end up learning what Krugman has done in this latest episode.

    You, the liberals, will never find out. The loud noise from your dueling banjos drowns out the fact your own side's debate was between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Those of us in red-state world know.
    Candidate Cruz told us so. Right after he put the unskilled, pitiful, unintelligent, not real serious, clueless moderators in their place.

  6. Here's the worst part of Friday's post. As he rampaged about the pundits, Somerby largely failed to discuss the utterly crazy budget proposals those ten candidates have made. And he failed to do something else:

    He failed to discuss the lies on other topics with which those hapless candidates responded to the CNBC questions.

  7. The fake liberal comes to the rescue of the grifter.

    1. Our guess? Some of his regular commenters are Somerby's biggest trolls. Alas nobody has called you out on that yet.

    2. Correct, 1:55. Nobody has called me a troll.
      Alas, probably because I'm not one.

  8. Let's carry Bob's excellent arguments to their more sophisticated conclusion, DinC. Do you think liberals would rather jump off bridges than discuss how much progress black adults have made? Or would they rather overdose on drugs? We can safely guess they won't commit suicide with handguns.

  9. BEN CARSON: I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them.

    BOB SOMERBY: For ourselves, we wouldn't say that Carson lied....

    BILL-BEN CLINSON: I did not have sex with that supplement.

  10. Why do Krugman and Somerby ignore Trump?

  11. Carroll , in Somerby's view, "did a rather lazy job sorting out the facts in question."

    Since she identified several examples in a column of customary publication space of Carson having "a relationship" or "involvement," each of which, on its own, much less in sum, appears to directly contradict the blanket denial (except for "a couple of speeches"), this analysis of Carroll's "laziness" is going to be rich.

    1. urban legend;

      Utterly hapless liberal stands up for the say so of a college kid.

      You give comfort to all of those conspiring to discredit the great Bob Somerby.

  12. A very poor post, it's garbled to the extent it's hard not to believe Somerby, in his thirst for false equivalence, isn't being deliberately deceptive himself.
    In any event, he can barely stick to the subject. Did Carson attempt to disassociate himself from the company in such a self serving and obviously dishonest extent that you could call what he did lying?

    The answer would seem to be yes.

    Krugman's sin would seem to be getting where the audience booed wrong, or maybe created the wrong impression as to where they viewed. The rest is puffed up nothing.

    But, as we know, Bob just tends to wet his pants when the liberals are just so darn right. "A conservative might not see it that way!" Yeah, we get it, that's why we live in a dumb Country. If only a liberal Bob went to College with could always be in power.

    1. Gore was a DLC centrist in 1998-2000 to illustrate how the goalposts have moved over the years.

    2. Yeah. Now thew only DLC centrists we have left are the President, the Vice President. the Governors of New York and Virginia, a Senator from New Jersey, the Mayor of Chicago, and the next in line for President from Team Clinton.

  13. Carson, Cruz and Rubio don't get a free pass to be idiots just because they are minorities. Same goes for Fiorina (the newest Palin).

  14. SOMERBY: "For ourselves we wouldn't say Carson lied."

    But Professor Krugman earns three Joe McCarthy's and one Tailgunner Joe! Bob hasn't gone this far in pinning the late Senator from Wisconsin on somebody since he lambasted Joan Walsh for attending college in McCarthy's home state before she went on to supervise the "Salonistas and Maoists" at Salon.

  15. @8:56

    Same goes for minorities who happen to be POTUS. Oh wait.....Libs do give a free pass to idiots when the idiots share the same ideology.

    Fiorina is Palin? The harpies on The View would give you an argument. They do not believe Carly is attractive at all.