Monday, May 30, 2005



Gee, really? Do you think? Do you think “it's inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper's writers without providing any supporting evidence?” Krugman’s statement is true, but it’s much too limiting; surely it’s inappropriate for any writer to offer nasty condemnation of the kind Okrent penned without offering any examples or evidence. In fact, it’s the sort of thing a public editor should criticize, from any member of a newspaper’s staff. But Daniel Okrent is king of the pimps. So he typed his cheap shot. Then he ran.

But how big a fraud is the great Daniel Okrent? Try to believe what you see if you actually dare to click here; try to believe the pile of letters at the bottom of which Krugman’s letter appears. That’s right, rubes! Before the mighty New York Times let readers see what Krugman had written, they presented a fair-and-balanced set of twelve different letters, all of which praise Darling Okrent for the brilliant way he conducted his mission. The sheer stupidity of these writers is matched by the balls-out pandering of the paper itself. Stalin himself wouldn’t play it so bold. But this insulting pile of propaganda perfectly captures the essence of Okrent. And it tells you things about the people who run the Times—things we all need to understand.


Omigod! Entertainment for days! Anyone who has read both Krugman and Okrent will emit low, mordant chuckles—in advance—at the thought of that promised exchange. Okrent is going to debate Paul Krugman? Good God! From his hapless “liberal newspaper” column right to the end, Okrent repeatedly wrote like an idiot—like a man too lazy and too self-consumed to waste his time with the simplest research. Repeatedly, he performed like the man he seems to be—like a foppish clown prince of Manhattan society, the great inventor of rotisserie baseball. He repeated fever dreams from kooky-con swamps, failing to check them in any way. And then, in parting, he let the world know that Krugman has been gaming the evidence!

For ourselves, we whet our lips as we imagine Okrent offering “substantive assault” against Krugman. (Of course, Krugman, almost surely, does make mistakes. See below.) But let’s make sure we fully understand the nature of the Times’ presentation this Sunday. That pile of letters the paper heaped up is an open insult to its readers’ intelligence. Before they let you read Krugman’s reply, they made you wade through twelve(!) different letters telling you that Okrent’s a genius. And be sure you understand what that means—it means that the New York Times’ management hates Krugman, too. Krugman has dared to challenge power—power, to which these weaklings conform. Throughout history, millionaire quislings have always knuckled under to power. And they’ve always attacked others who don’t.

The last point is of course critical for understanding the real dynamic at play.

(...holy crap, Okrent really did invent rotisserie baseball. Thought it was a joke...)