Seth Perlman / AP

Did you catch Paul Krugman’s bid, published Monday under the retro-2000 headline of “Hillary Clinton Gets Gored,” to once again offer up his journalistic body-blocking services to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

Here’s a snippet:

Americans of a certain age who follow politics and policy closely still have vivid memories of the 2000 election — bad memories, and not just because the man who lost the popular vote somehow ended up in office. For the campaign leading up to that end game was nightmarish too.

Yet throughout the campaign most media coverage gave the impression that Mr. Bush was a bluff, straightforward guy, while portraying Al Gore — whose policy proposals added up, and whose critiques of the Bush plan were completely accurate — as slippery and dishonest. Mr. Gore’s mendacity was supposedly demonstrated by trivial anecdotes, none significant, some of them simply false. No, he never claimed to have invented the internet. But the image stuck.

And right now I and many others have the sick, sinking feeling that it’s happening again.

(Just who these “many others” are, exactly, isn’t spelled out in Krugman’s article.)

Or how about The New York Times columnist’s pietistic tweet to make it extra obvious where his loyalties lie this election season?

Below is Krugman’s social-media salvo — which, along with the column itself, landed with much fanfare from Democratic operatives and Clinton supporters, as Glenn Greenwald noted in his own forceful rejoinder to Krugman’s piece, posted Tuesday in The Intercept.

Twitter offers high-powered users, journalists included, a platform to serve as their own media mouthpieces, and Krugman is undoubtedly aware of that potential. All the same, Greenwald clearly isn’t buying what Krugman’s selling.

To wit, this line from Greenwald’s response: “There is probably no more die-hard Clinton loyalist in the U.S. media than Paul Krugman.”

At first glance, this may look like another case of media infighting in which journalists jostle for prominence, not to mention headlines and clicks. But a closer look at Greenwald’s suggests higher stakes are in play:

As my colleague Zaid Jilani remarked: “I can imagine Paul Krugman standing in front of the mirror saying, ‘This is *your Tahrir Square* big guy.’” Nate Silver, early yesterday morning, even suggested that Krugman’s Clinton-defending column was so edgy and threatening that the New York Times — which published the column — was effectively suppressing Krugman’s brave stance by refusing to promote it on Twitter (the NYT tweeted Krugman’s column a few hours later, early in the afternoon). Thankfully, it appears that Krugman — at least thus far — has suffered no governmental recriminations or legal threats, nor any career penalties, for his intrepid, highly risky defense of Hillary Clinton.

That’s because — in contrast to his actually brave, orthodoxy-defying work in 2002 as one of the few media voices opposed to the invasion of Iraq, for which he deserves eternal credit — Krugman here is doing little more than echoing conventional media wisdom. That prominent journalists are overwhelmingly opposed to Donald Trump is barely debatable; their collective contempt for him is essentially out in the open, which is where it should be. Contrary to Krugman’s purported expectation, countless Clinton-supporting journalists rushed to express praise for Krugman. Indeed, with very few exceptions, U.S. elites across the board — from both parties, spanning multiple ideologies — are aligned with unprecedented unity against Donald Trump. The last thing required to denounce him, or to defend Hillary Clinton, is bravery.

… The absolute last metric journalists should use for determining what to cover is the reaction of pundits who, like Krugman and plenty of others, are singularly devoted to the election of one of the candidates. Of course Hillary Clinton’s die-hard loyalists in the media will dislike, and find invalid, any suggestion that she engaged in any sort of questionable conduct. Their self-assigned role is to defend her from all criticisms. They view themselves more as campaign operatives than journalists: Their principal, overriding goal is to ensure that Clinton wins the election. They will obviously hate anything — particularly negative reporting about her — that conflicts with that goal. They will jettison even their core stated beliefs — such as the view that big-money donations corrupt politicians — in order to fulfill that goal.

But it would be journalistic malpractice of the highest order if the billions of dollars received by the Clintons — both personally and though their various entities — were not rigorously scrutinized and exposed in detail by reporters. That’s exactly what they ought to be doing. The fact that quid pro quos cannot be definitively proven does not remotely negate the urgency of this journalism. That’s because quid pro quos by their nature elude such proof (can anyone prove that Republicans steadfastly support Israel and low taxes because of the millions they get from Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, or that the Florida attorney general decided not to prosecute Trump because his foundation and his daughter donated to her?). Beyond quid quo pros, the Clintons’ constant, pioneering merger of massive private wealth and political power and influence is itself highly problematic. Nobody forced them to take millions of dollars from the Saudis and Goldman Sachs tycoons and corporations with vested interests in the State Department; having chosen to do so with great personal benefit, they are now confronting the consequences in how the public views such behavior.

While Greenwald allows that he believes Trump’s candidacy presents considerable dangers and applauds journalists for dropping their “faux objectivity,” he argues convincingly that that shouldn’t give Clinton carte blanche or preclude the ongoing need to beam “a bright journalistic light” on her qualifications, actions and background.

Also, journalists who openly back Clinton don’t themselves get a pass to then covertly and selectively spin other aspects of her story, such as how beleaguered by bad press she actually is, in the interest of making sure her opponent doesn’t win.

On that note, click here, here and here for recent Truthdig columns and news reports written in the interest of keeping our brights on up to, as well as after, Election Day.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson


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