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Friday, May 28, 2004

Shorter Paul Krugman
I told you so.

Krugman actually maintains his dignity while being forced to admit that the majority (55%) of American mainstream journalists are admitting that the vast majority of mainstream American journalists were not as good at their main job as Paul Krugman is at his hobby.

The story is familiar, for one thing Krugman has indeed been writing it for years. I was interested in an economists view of the first of Krugman's explanations for the press being too soft on Bush

"So why did the press credit Mr. Bush with virtues that reporters knew he didn't possess? One answer is misplaced patriotism. After 9/11 much of the press seemed to reach a collective decision that it was necessary, in the interests of national unity, to suppress criticism of the commander in chief."

I see this as reporters deciding that, given the emergency, it was necessary for them to suppress their combative inclinations and their desire to gain fame by scoring points against the administration. That is, reporters typically balance the fun and advantages of aggressive reporting and their sense of guilt for undermining national unity.

If so, what we see, except from 9/11 till about now, is the action of the invisible hand. Each individual reporter aims to gain fame, score points and scare people with real power by aggressive reporting. That is each acts from nasty or selfish motives. However, theinvisible hand of the marketplace of ideas fashions truth and rational debate from the struggle between spin and hostile reporting. When reporters decide that the nation's interest requires them to act according to their better natures, ignorance, confusion and an unnecessary war result.

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