Krugman on the sorry state of political reporting

Paul Krugman has had two great columns recently in the NYT. Unfortunately they are buried behind a pay-wall. In “Authentic? Nevermind” Krugman addresses the recent criticism of candidate John Edwards who has been living comfortably yet talks about income inequality, increasing taxes on the wealthy and helping the poor, woorking and middle classes at the expense of the rich and elite. As Krugman points out, there is nothing inauthentic about this, however that is how the media is portraying it. It would be inauthentic of Edwards, mothballed the houses and moved into a travel trailer to try to score points with the populace. He is, rather, following in the tradition of F.D.R. who lived quite well but also accomplished great things for poor Americans.

Inauthentic is Fred Thompson who traded in his nice black town car for a red pickup while running for Senate, or Rudy Giulianni who claims to be a defender of the nation and tough on terror based on his “record” which is spotty at best. Giulianni has come under heavy criticism from first responders for his performance on September 11th and there after. Krugman also points out that Giulianni Partners has had some seriously questionable relationships (Berni Kerrik convicted of corruption, and FBI executive who stole artifacts from the WTC Site and a former RC priest who was accused of covering up sexual abuse in the church.

Not to mention GWB and his cowboy/flyboy act. Krugman says we should stop talking about authenticity and start talking about candidates on the issues, something that is objective rather than subjective popularity contest criteria.

In “Lies, Sighs and Politics” a few days earlier, Krugman again lambastes the media for covering the horse race not the candidates actual stances on issues. There is no critical analysis of the candidate’s statements made on the campaign trail or in the debates. Instead of delving into policy positions and exposing the lies or obfuscations of the candidates, the media simply regurgitate sound bites and then talk about likeability, authenticity, or “strength”.

While reading this column I thought, perhaps this is a perfect project for crowd sourcing. What if hundreds or thousands of citizen journalists actually picked apart the candidates statements, compared them against their past statements and the facts.

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