Paul Krugman cuts to the chase: Why does the media pretend that bullshit political posturing is fact?
Remember all the dire warnings about what would happen if China stopped buying our debt, or worse yet, starting selling it? Remember how interest rates would soar and America would find itself in crisis?
Well, don’t tell anyone, but the much feared event has happened: China is no longer buying our debt, and is in fact selling tens of billions of dollars in U.S. debt every month as it tries to support its troubled currency. And what has happened is what serious economic analysis always told us would happen: nothing. It was always a false alarm.
Beyond that, however, it was a fake alarm.
If you looked at all closely at the plans and proposals released by politicians who claimed to be deeply worried about deficits, it soon became obvious that they were just pretending to care about fiscal responsibility. People who really worry about government debt don’t propose huge tax cuts for the rich, only partly offset by savage cuts in aid to the poor and middle class, and base all claims of debt reduction on unspecified savings to be announced on some future occasion.
And once fiscal scare tactics started to lose political traction, even the pretense went away. Just look at the people seeking the Republican presidential nomination. One after another, they have been proposing giant tax cuts that would add trillions to the deficit.
Debt, it seems, only matters when there’s a Democrat in the White House. Or more accurately, all the talk about debt wasn’t about fiscal prudence; it was about trying to inflict political damage on President Obama, and it stopped when the tactic lost effectiveness.
Again, none of this should come as news to anyone who follows politics and policy even moderately closely. But I’m not sure that normal people, who have jobs to do and families to raise, are getting the message. After all, who will tell them?
Sometimes I have the impression that many people in the media consider it uncouth to acknowledge, even to themselves, the fraudulence of much political posturing. The done thing, it seems, is to pretend that we’re having real debates about national security or economics even when it’s both obvious and easy to show that nothing of the kind is actually taking place.
But turning our eyes away from political fakery, pretending that we’re having a serious discussion when we aren’t, is itself a kind of fraudulence. Mr. McCarthy inadvertently did the nation a big favor with his ill-advised honesty, but telling the public what’s really going on shouldn’t depend on politicians with loose lips.
Sometimes — all too often — there’s no substance under the shouting. And then we need to tell the truth, and say that it’s all Benghazi.
When I was a reporter, I knew a lot of journalists who collected information, who did indeed understand what was going on -- but they just wouldn't write about it. They were lazy, or conflict-avoiders (a lot of those -- after all, journalists are basically English majors), or careerists who just wanted to get along. Sometimes they worked for publishers who played golf with the politicians and didn't want anyone to make waves.
The D.C. version is, you don't want to lose access.
If you go to a social gathering of journalists, that's where you'll hear the best stories. Too bad they don't have the balls to actually write them.