It’s to self-described “establishment” journalist Evan Thomas’ credit that he calls attention (Newsweek, 4/6/09) to economist Paul Krugman’s progressive criticism of the Obama administration’s financial bailout plan; corporate media generally pay much more attention to critics from the right.
But the same shallowness that renders most media policy discussions virtually useless infects Thomas’ article, which seems more interested in analyzing Krugman’s personality than his economics. “A lot of what he says is wrong and not considered,” asserts George Mason economist Daniel Klein. Such as? Thomas doesn’t say (nor does he allude to Klein’s right-wing politics). “In areas outside his expertise he sometimes gets his facts wrong,” Thomas asserts–without offering examples.
In a rare glimpse of substance, Thomas cites some unnamed administration officials’ specific criticisms of Krugman’s bank-nationalization proposals. Thomas’ summary of the economist’s counter-argument: “Krugman swats away these arguments, though he acknowledges he’s not a ‘detail’ man.”
One suspects that Krugman had more to say than that, and including his response might have helped readers determine whose policies might better address the economic crisis. But Thomas needed to save room to describe his subject’s “lovely custom-built wood, stone and glass house by a brook in bucolic Princeton.”