New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has issued two corrections to his August 19 and August 22 columns. The first correction concerns his false claim that turnout in Ohio’s Miami County last fall was an unbelievable 98.5 percent. Krugman admits he relied on figures from tinfoil hat-wearer Rep. John Conyers rather than Ohio’s Secretary of State, who reports 72.2 percent turnout. Brainster’s Blog pointed out this error seven days ago.
The second correction addresses Krugman’s characterization of the findings of a media consortium led by The Miami Herald:
[T]he public editor says, rightly, that I should acknowledge initially misstating the results of the 2000 Florida election study by a media consortium led by The Miami Herald. Unlike a more definitive study by a larger consortium that included The New York Times, an analysis that showed Al Gore winning all statewide manual recounts, the earlier study showed him winning two out of three.
Well, OK. But take a look at what Krugman wrote in his earlier column:
About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of “undervotes,” which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore.
Confused? You’re not the only one. Here’s Patterico:
Krugman initially said “Gore won two out of three” — and corrected that statement today to “Gore won two out of three.” Call me crazy, but this appears to be the same exact claim.
I’m really starting to wonder whether Paul Krugman is looking at a different 2001 study of undervotes by a consortium including the Miami Herald than I am. Every time I look at my link to the USA Today article on the study, it says Bush won 3 out of 4 times. Let me quote it again, just to make sure I’m not hallucinating:
“The newspapers then applied the accounting firm’s findings to four standards [yup, four, not three — hear that, Paul?] used in Florida and elsewhere to determine when an undervote ballot becomes a legal vote. By three of the standards, Bush holds the lead. The fourth standard gives Gore a razor-thin win.”
Let me translate that for you, Paul. When it says that four standards were applied, and Bush held the lead in three, I think that means Bush won three of four. I mean, I’m not the New York Times columnist; you are. But that’s pretty much how it reads to this humble blogger….
Someone help me. I’m just utterly flummoxed. Is a New York Times columnist just repeatedly lying to his readers about an easily checkable fact, even after getting called on it by his public editor? Or is this guy living in a parallel universe where what he is saying is true? Please, someone help me. What is going on here?
It’s possible Krugman was referring to this USA Today article, which apparently came out about a month after the article that Patterico cites. As Donald Luskin notes, however, the second article also cites four recount standards, not three. And the winner was “Bush, under the 2 most widely used standards; Gore, under the 2 least used.”
Ironically, Krugman’s underlying point–that Gore would have won Florida if a statewide recount had proceeded–seems to be correct. As Mickey Kaus has pointed out many times, the hypothetical recount analyses carried out by various media consortia focused on undervotes (i.e., ballots on which no presidential candidate was selected). Kaus says that the overvotes were a far greater source of uncounted Gore votes:
The mother lode of hidden Gore votes, it turned out, was in the overvotes, especially ballots of voters who “tried to be extra-clear in their choice and ended up nullifying the vote. They filled in the oval next to a candidate and then filled in the oval for ‘write-in’ and wrote the same candidate’s name again.”
The discomfiting truth is that, if you also recounted overvotes, the NORC media recount, under several “certainty” standards, showed Gore the winner… What’s more, there’s strong, near-smoking evidence that if the recount had been allowed to proceed overvotes would have been counted (despite the Gore camp’s revealingly obtuse, self-defeating focus on the “undervotes”).
So why didn’t Krugman just say that? Note that Kaus places blame on the Gore campaign–that doesn’t square with Krugman’s Bush-is-the-source-of-all-evil worldview.
Of course, Kaus’ conclusion doesn’t get Krugman off the hook for either his botched correction or his initial mischaracterization of the findings of the USA TODAY/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder consortium. So will Krugman issue a correction to his correction? Stay tuned.
More blogger reax…
Donald Luskin: “I can only imagine the bitter negotiations that must have been going on between Krugman, ‘public editor’ Byron Calame, and editorial page editor Gail Collins. But this ain’t over yet. There’s a recount coming.”
Bulldogpundit at Ankle Biting Pundits: “[W]e’d have loved to have seen Krugman typing ‘Correction’ in the column. This is after all, a man whom former ‘Public Editor’ (Ombudsman) Daniel Okrent said ‘I can’t come up with an adverb sufficient to encompass his general attitude toward substantive criticism.’ ”
Richard Baehr at The American Thinker:
The New York Times has seen its reputation and credibility erode seriously under the leadership of “Pinch” Sulzberger, its hereditary publisher. The continuous rise of the internet has enabled critics to hyperlink source material proving Krugman’s lack of integrity. Krugman simply could not get away with his lies if he were required to post hyperlinks. So Krugman and his backers at the Times hierarchy are in essence flaunting the inadequacies of their publishing format in a manner which will provide ample grist for the critics to demonstrate their obsolescence.
Why is the New York Times still employing a serial liar in its op ed pages? There are only a few answers, and none of them bodes well for the shareholders of the New York Times Company, the newspaper industry (which is virtually ignoring the scandal), or Krugman’s reputation.