Krugman vs. Okrent, Round 2, and More to Come

By: E&P Staff

Knowing Paul Krugman, you had to figure he would not let a final shot last week from the departing New York Times public editor, Daniel Okrent, slide off his back. Sure enough, in the Sunday Times this week, Krugman fires off a rebuttal, printed in the public editor’s letters column, with (apparently) more back-and-forth to come, even though Okrent has now left the paper.

Here’s the text of Krugman’s letter:

“In Daniel Okrent’s parting shot as public editor of The New York Times, he levied a harsh charge against me: he said that I have ‘a disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.’

“He offered no examples of my ‘disturbing habit,’ and maybe I should stop there: surely it’s inappropriate for the public editor to attack the ethics of one of the paper’s writers without providing any supporting evidence. He responded to my request for examples with criticisms of specific columns. Those criticisms were simply wrong: in each of those columns I played entirely fair with my readers, using the standard data in the standard way.

“That should be the end of the story. I want to go back to doing what I have been doing all along: using economic data to inform my readers.”

However, this clearly not the end of the story, as a note under this letter declares that Krugman and Okrent “will be addressing this matter further on the Public Editor’s Web Journal ( early in the week.”

In his May 22 commentary, Okrent also wrote: “No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes [Maureen] Dowd’s way, and some of Krugman’s enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn’t mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn’t hold his columnists to higher standards.”

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