A blogger in the Big Apple recently discovered that Paul Krugman has made a remarkable admission:
George Stephanopoulos: "What would you consider a bottom line victory?" (at -03.23):
Paul Krugman: "In a way, since I have my own goals on healthcare, I can’t say what my final, what’s the least I’ll accept, because that then becomes a negotiating point.”
The amazing thing about Krugman’s statement is the extent to which he expressly sees himself as a policy maker with a role negotiating the final shape of any new healthcare bill. He is afraid to say what he wants because that would be used to negotiate against him. . . . Instead of seeing that it is his role to explain what is going on, he obviously believes he was put on this earth to influence the shape of the healthcare bill. He has completely thrown out the window any pretense that he is an objective commentator on the debate.
In other words, when one reads Krugman’s column, one should recognize that he does not think it is his job to help we the people understand the issues so that we may make informed decisions about them. On the contrary, he regards it as his job to shape what he says and does not say, in order to move debate in the direction he thinks it ought to go.
I wonder if Krugman reflects a larger defect in the New York Times. The Times became a great and influential newspaper because it sought to provide information to the people, to help create an informed citizenry. It did that job so well, that the Times started have a good deal of influence in setting the agenda for the Union as a whole. As time passed, the newspaper grew self conscious about that role, and, as a result, started paying too much attention to agenda setting (asking whether a story was worthy of being in the public discussion, and working too hard to decide which facts the people ought to have before them), rather than sticking with the basics. The result has been that the Times has grown weaker as a newspaper, and, at the same time, is becoming less influential. Once the curtain is down, it can’t be put back up.