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NY Times Admits Jon Gruber Problem, Fails To Mention Paul Krugman Problem

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Capers Donating Member (115 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:52 AM
Original message
NY Times Admits Jon Gruber Problem, Fails To Mention Paul Krugman Problem
NY Times Admits Gruber Problem, Fails To Mention Krugman Problem
By: bmaz Saturday January 16, 2010 8:26 pm

In a full throated mea culpa by the New York Times Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, appearing in the Sunday edition, the Times officially describes the critical and material implications that arise when readers are misled by undisclosed interests of sources and authors in their paper of record.

(snip)

...Hoyt fails to address the baseless attack his paper, via Paul Krugman, wrongfully made on Marcy Wheeler and Firedoglake.

What Hoyt does make crystal clear though, and provides robust documentation of, is that Jonathan Grubers disclosure failings were no fake scandal, nor were they in any way analogous to the spurious antics of right wingers as Paul Krugman callously alleged. After all, it is right there in the paper of record.

I guess avoidance means never having to say you are sorry; but it is a pretty unsavory tact for the New York Times, paper of record and home of all the news fit to print. All the news maybe, but certainly not all the truth, honesty and chivalry.

http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/01/16/ny-times-a... /
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/opinion/17pubed.html


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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:02 AM
Response to Original message
1. Imagine my SHOCK at bias in editorializing!
The real tragedy is how the NYT blows it off, and Krugman being such a dick.

Journalistic integrity and full disclosure is not a "fake scandal" jackass.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:02 AM
Response to Original message
2. There is no Paul Krugman problem ...
Ergo, there is no problem to be admitted.

It typical fashion, those who have blown this matter out of all proportion are again resorting to hyperbole. Far from being a "full throated mea culpa," the Times editor merely stated the issue as it relates to Gruber.

Gruber, the health care economist, wrote an Op-Ed column in July supporting an excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans. Not long before, he had signed a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to analyze the economic impact of various health care proposals in Congress. He did not tell Op-Ed editors, nor was the contract mentioned on at least 12 other occasions when he was quoted in The Times after he was consulting for the administration. After a blogger reported on Grubers government contract on the Daily Kos Web site, Gruber did volunteer it to Steven Greenhouse, a Times reporter interviewing him for an article on the excise tax. Greenhouse said he included the fact in a draft but struck it because the article was too long. Greenhouse said that Grubers views on the tax were so well-known that he did not think they would be influenced by a consulting contract. But had he realized how large the contract was, Greenhouse said, I would have stood up and paid lots more attention.

Gruber said, I guess it never occurred to me that the fact that I was doing technical modeling would matter. He said he has long supported the tax and that the administration opposed it when he wrote his column, so he was hardly bending his views to a government paymaster.


The "lesson" learned was that reporters need to ask.

And seriously ... "chivalry"? Someone either pulled out a thesaurus and went a little crazy or just came back from a rollicking good time at the Medieval Fair without having come down yet.
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:13 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Paul Krugman shouldn't have been obnoxious towards Marcy Wheeler.
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 02:13 AM by Eric J in MN
Jon Gruber write idiotic op-eds, and didn't reveal his conflict-of-interest.

Jon Gruber is the person who should be criticized.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:49 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I'm not sure how he was obnoxious ...
Ms. Wheeler put her rhetorical foot into a minefield traversed by academics on a regular basis, and the criticism she received was far less terse than some I've seen academics sling back and forth at each other over even lesser issues. Moreover, she doesn't seem to have realized the history of the ground on which she was treading, but this of course didn't stop her from offering her own condemnations. Given this, Krugman showed restraint.

Maybe Gruber should have preemptively revealed where his funding originated, but I disagree that his funding ipso facto constituted a conflict of interest. If you read the article, you will note that the other instances of controversy often involved individuals being paid to support a specific position. That was not what Gruber was paid to do, and in fact the position he took in the op-ed ran counter to the administration's position at the time he published. If anything, he influenced the government, not the other way around. Does a conflict of interest exist when officials base policy initiatives in part on the recommendations of people they paid to make recommendations? That's not merely rhetorical. I can imagine circumstances that would result in both "yes" and "no" answers.

The differences in all that are the substance of the debate among academics and specialists, those who fund them, and those who use the results in some way regarding when preemptive disclosure is necessary.

Oddly enough, just before this dust-up happened, I was following a rollicking debate among linguists regarding when revealing sources of funding was necessary and when a failure to do so generates suspicion. One linguist, for example, had attended a conference in which one of the controversial issues among the linguistic community was being debated. He had published widely with his view, and everyone knew it. He had once been paid, however, by a journal commissioning an article that was intended to present the specific argument he was known for having. After the conference, he was criticized by those opposed to that position for not having revealed this information, as though the fact of his being paid to provide an opinion had somehow influenced him. Should he have revealed this arrangement at the conference prior to giving his presentation? He later reflected that were he to do it all over again, he would have, simply so he could define the context in which the controversy that would inevitably be fueled by his opponents would begin. But, as everyone who was interested in the issue already knew, the controversy would have remained regardless, just in a different form.

The fact remained that his opinion was arrived at by careful attention to the rules of his profession, not because he was paid to arrive at them. The same is true of Gruber. The controversy is an attempt to discount the opinion without directly addressing it, as though being paid to do work in and of itself lessens the validity of that work.

I am not, btw, using that example as a direct comparison to Gruber's case, rather as an illustration that the issue of funding and revealing sources of it is a running concern among academics in areas where one would not intuitively think it's a big deal. Linguists? Who cares?

In short, I would agree with the criticism if Gruber had been paid to find evidence to fit a position or if he had not revealed his source of funding (or lied about it) when asked, and if evidence is found at some point supporting this, I will reverse myself. I believe Krugman would as well.

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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. "the position he took in the op-ed ran counter to the administration's position at the time..."
"...he published."

Which position? Where is your evidence that it wasn't what the administration wanted?
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alcibiades_mystery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:59 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Ms. Wheeler and her fanboys and girls
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 10:59 AM by alcibiades_mystery
don't like to have to defend their positions in public, especially when their interlocutor is clearly more learned and measured on the matter.

And yes, "chivalry" = :rofl:
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Capers Donating Member (115 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Even the New York Times agrees with Ms. Wheeler and her fanboys.
The exact opposite of what you're saying has been proven.

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geek tragedy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
7. Dear Marcy: Mr. Krugman just isn't in to you (or any other Firebagger). nt
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 11:05 AM
Response to Original message
8. Hm, Opening Poster just kind of disappeared.
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