Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An Incomparable Look at Okrent and Krugman

For those of you who have been following the Paul Krugman/Daniel Okrent affair, there is no better skewering of Okrent's parting cheap shot as NYT Public Editor than that by the self-described "incomparable" Daily Howler. Dished up since 1998 by Bob Somerby, the DH is unrivalled in its dissection of the failings of media pundits, self-involved news readers and similar lightweights of the chattering classes. Somerby neatly slices and dices Okrent and wonders aloud:
Where on earth did the New York Times go to come up with this oddest of creatures?
But to that, of course, there’s an obvious answer; the Times went straight to the Bureau of Fops, a well-stocked Manhattan fish pond.
Somerby goes on to recount Okrent's invention of Rotisserie League Baseball, his consumption of buttered brains with the oddball foodies collective known as the "The Innard Circle" or "The Offal Truth" and his journalistic career, which comes off as almost incidental to his other pursuits. Nothing if not evenhanded, Somerby cautions:
Let’s be fair. There’s nothing wrong with following jazz, adoring baseball, or greedily eating your way through piles of the very freshest rhinoceros livers. But such pursuits may not equip us for the highest life of the mind.
Somerby does his homework, in this case by calling in Brad DeLong to dissect in detail why Okrent's complaints about Krugman were so wide of the mark.
COMPLAINT BY OKRENT: [Krugman’s] 2/3/04 assertion that tax proposals offered by Democrats would help the 77 percent of taxpayers in the 15 percent bracket or less. The most recent generally accepted figures available at the time indicated that the number was actually 64 percent.
EXPLANATION BY DELONG: I believe that 77% of all taxpayers are in the 15% bracket or less; 64% of those who pay income taxes to the Treasury are in the 15% bracket or less; there are a bunch of people who pay taxes but not income taxes.
For those seeking something a bit more sophisticated than Wonkette's anatomy jokes, The Daily Howler truly is incomparable.


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