Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Thursday, January 13, 2005
Human Editors 1, Computers 0 Google News provided a vivid illustration of the limits of its automated system for finding the hottest news stories on the web when its homepage today headlined this shocking claim from Andy Borowitz:

Andy Borowitz: Bush Accuses Saddam of Telling the Truth

The problem is, as most human editors would have know, Andy Borowitz isn't a reporter, or even a columnist. He's a satirist. The column is a sendup of Bush's inability (or at least wanton unwillingness) to acknowledge bad news. And it's not bad, at that. I especially liked this fake quote: "thanks to the work of our coalition, Mr. Saddam Hussein will never be free to tell the truth again." And the Axis of Veracity is fun, too.

But it's not News. I guess Bill Keller fends off Univac for another day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Paging Armstrong Williams It appears that Armstrong Williams, the black conservative commentator who recently confessed that he failed to disclose payments he received from the Bush Administration to plug the No Child Left Behind Act, isn't the only journalist who needs a refresher course in conflict of interest standards.

Check out this MSNBC piece, in which Mets announcer and NBC Sports commentator Ted Robinson hails the team's owners for their free-spending ways this off-season. I'll be the first to say that the Wilpon family has pleasantly surprised me for aggressively pursuing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. But Robinson has to disclose that he works for the Wilpons when he does it...

The Case for Competence Economics Professor and former Clinton Treasury official Brad DeLong explains why he cannot support the President's move to change Social Security, even though he accepts that equity investments, private accounts, and early intervention are all, on the face of it, reasonable ideas.
So why, then, is my attitude toward the Bush administration's Social Security non-proposal like that of the Dread Pirate Roberts?

Experience. We've seen what Bush administration proposals turn into. We've seen it turn a surplus into a deficit. We've seen its idea of a farm bill. We've seen its steel tariff--bad economics, bad mercantilism, and bad politics. We've seen the recent corporate tax monstrosity. We've seen the Medicare drug benefit. We've heard from Paul O'Neill. We've heard from John DiIulio. The Bush administration is batting as close to a zero on economic policy as an administration can--and economic policy is the bright spot in this administration.