Krugman v. Gupta

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The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is unhappy with the Obama administration for offering the job of surgeon general to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and former Clinton White House policy wonk. According to The Washington Post, Gupta "has also been offered a top post in the new White House Office of Health Reform, twin duties that could make him the most influential surgeon general in history." That Gupta seems eminently qualified and would be the highest-ranking Indian-American to serve in the federal government is of no consequence. Because the TV Doc, says Krugman, criticized (or as he writes, "mugged") Michael Moore on CNN by questioning some of the numbers in his lousy pro-Cuba film Sicko—and made two mistakes in doing so. Here is Krugman:

What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he's uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It's sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less "serious" than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it's a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

There is no need to revisit whether or not Moore "got it right" in his film or in his counterattacks on Gupta and CNN, but it should be pointed out that our future surgeon general copped to two mistakes in his criticism of Sicko. One was the result of a transcription error ($251 was read as $25), the other was an incorrect affiliation. Even if Krugman is broadly correct, this is partisan hackery at its worst: Gupta—a proponent of single-payer health care, incidentally—should be held "accountable" for having criticized an incoherent film by a director with a history of abusing source material?

Also, I recommend a quick read of Gene Epstein's Econospinning, which convincingly demonstrates that Krugman (in his role as Times pundit) might want to consider holding himself "accountable" for his slippery use of source material.

I reviewed Sicko here.

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  1. Wow, this is so wrong on so many levels. The racist attacks on Dr. Gupta for one and the baseless attacks on Moore for telling the truth about Cuba.

  2. There is no need to revisit whether or not Moore “got it right” in his film or in his counterattacks on Gupta and CNN,
    but what the hell, let’s give it another go.

  3. Does the Surgeon General’s office actually have any power or importance?

  4. as long as we’re holding people accountable, has Krugman ever been employed by a company that didn’t end up looted of all its shareholder value?

  5. Krugman has A NOBEL PRIZE! Truly, we are entering a golden age of argument by authority.

  6. WHO CARES ABOUT SOME FAT FUCK’S CRAPPY, FICTIONAL MOVIE? LET’S MOVE ON TO THE CRUX OF THE MATTER: WHAT’S GUPTA’S POSITION ON ‘BATING?

  7. Sorry, I don’t have time for anything more eloquent: Fuck Paul Krugman.

  8. Let the purges begin.

  9. Kool, seconded.

  10. This is from Krugman? THIS Krugman?!?

    Giant. Fucking. Balls.

  11. WHO CARES ABOUT SOME FAT FUCK’S CRAPPY, FICTIONAL MOVIE? LET’S MOVE ON TO THE CRUX OF THE MATTER: WHAT’S GUPTA’S POSITION ON ‘BATING?

    Go ‘way, batin’.

  12. FrBunny,

    Dude, I wouldn’t go around quoting Luskin if you’re going to bash inaccurate, partisan writers. Luskin is the Bill Kristol of economics writers. Here’s what he said in mid-September 2008

    This would suggest that anyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one — especially the worst one since the Great Depression — is making up his own private definition of “recession.”

  13. I think Krugman himself “is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.” Ugh.

    Reason #57483 not to read the Times.

  14. So, does this mean we can expect, any day now, the nomination for Nancy Grace as the Attorney General? Lou Dobbs for Commerce? [shiver]

    If the Dems really want to stick it to the Republicans and more importantly, Faux News, Obama will withdraw his other nominations and put forth an all-CNN cabinet.

  15. Calling Jacob Sullum – Dr. Gupta did a nice piece on CNN about MDMA (ecstasy) and mind alteration a few years back…if we are to have a Surgeon General he seems like a reasonable choice…

  16. Dude, I wouldn’t go around quoting Luskin

    Dude, quoting Luskin wasn’t anywhere close to the point. His link came up before the direct link to Krugman’s 2005 piece. Luskin’s inability to define a recession doesn’t change the fact that Krugman should flee this Pot v Kettle embroglio before anyone reminds him that people remember stuff.

    So to reiterate:
    Krugman = Giant. Fucking. Balls.
    Luskin = Epic. Fail. Economist.

    All fixed? 🙂

  17. That Gupta seems eminently qualified and would be the highest-ranking Indian-American to serve in the federal government is of no consequence.

    I would certainly agree that his ethnic background is of no consequence. I’m a little puzzled as to why it was mentioned at all.

    One thing that gives me qualms is that he admitted to making a mistake. It sounds like he has absolutely no idea how political appointees are supposed to act.

  18. Nancy Grace as the Attorney General

    Fuck. Now I have that mental picture to carry me through the rest of the day.

    One thing that gives me qualms is that he admitted to making a mistake.

    That might be a plus to me. What are you speaking of, I must have missed something when my eyes fogged over in horror at the thought of Nancy Grace in an actual position of legal power.

  19. The best classic Krugman part of that quote is actually where he tries to jam in a complete non sequitur reference to Bush and Iraq, like he would stroke out if he doesn’t say it enough.

  20. RC, you mean political appointees annointees are supposed to be flawless and beyond reproach? Thank heavens heavens this guy is human and self-aware enough to withstand this abuse with dignity. Maybe.

  21. One thing that gives me qualms is that he admitted to making a mistake.

    Any you probably laugh at all other change you can believe in too.

  22. Change You Can’t Flee From?

  23. imbroglio

    FrBunny = Epic. Spelling. Fail.

  24. Changes to Your Freedom?

  25. Personally I was hoping for a Dr. Oz appointment.

    Y’know, cause Oprah needs more power and access.

  26. Krugman has A NOBEL PRIZE! Truly, we are entering a golden age of argument by authority.

    It seems that way.
    Listen to the experts SugarFree, they will guide you down the right path.

  27. I disagree with some of Dr. Gupta’s positions, but the man is certainly qualified.

    And the vast majority of his criticism of Sicko was spot on.

  28. Keep trying Pro. L – you’ll get it someday.

  29. Does the Surgeon General’s office actually have any power or importance?

    Pretty much just a big soapbox–influence yes, actual political power, no.

  30. Change you can’t change.

  31. Pain You Can Believe In?

  32. Not even in medicine is there a qualified appointment that didn’t suck dick at the house of Clinton.

  33. JW you fool!!! I’m sick of the “Change” trademarked crap! Are you tryin to make my head explode!

  34. Also, I recommend a quick read of Gene Epstein’s Econospinning, which convincingly demonstrates that Krugman (in his role as Times pundit) might want to consider holding himself “accountable” for his slippery use of source material.

    I can sign on to the Econospinning endorsement. However, it’s not really suited to a “quick read”, as it’s pretty dry and heavy.

  35. BABES YOU CAN BATE TO.

  36. Abraham Lincoln’s Surgeon general had a great deal of power. If I recall, he finished the job started by Booth when he tried to explore the wound to Lincoln’s brain.

  37. WHAT’S GUPTA’S POSITION ON ‘BATING?

    Funny you mention that. If it hadn’t been for Joycelyn Elders, I would never have figured out how fun it was to make Mr. Smileyworm get big. And you dare say the Surgeon General has no power!

  38. cunnivore,

    I’m gonna need a little background info on that last post cuz the first thing I was thinking after reading your post was “WHAT?!?!”

  39. Change or you’ll be leavin?

  40. Oh jesus! Et tu Reinmoose?

  41. Moore was amusing in his TV Nation days. I liked that show. I haven’t found a Moore movie I like yet.

    “”””the new White House Office of Health Reform”””

    I don’t like the way that sounds, at all.

  42. Naga –
    The sooner we get it over with, the sooner we can move on to the rest of our commiserating

  43. That’s it, Reinmoose. The Obama Presidency is just pulling a big TITS OR GTFO on America.

  44. Reinmoose,

    I can find no fault with your logic. Today was my first day off since last Monday and I started the drinking early. King’s Estate Pinot Noir is good stuff by the way.

  45. THE URKOBOLD WAS OUT LAST WEEK WITH BARRY, SNORTING COKE OFF A COUPLE OF WHORES’ ASSES, AND RECOMMENDED THIS DOCTOR AS HIS SURGEON GENERAL. THE URKOBOLD IS SURPRISED THAT HE CHANGED HIS MIND, BECAUSE HE SEEMED QUITE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE PROPOSAL AT THE TIME.

    OBAMA’S PRO-BATING, BY THE WAY.

  46. If I recall, he finished the job started by Booth

    I was never a buff, but Manhunt was very sympathetic to the surgeon. According to that account, Lincoln was a slow goner from bang, and the surgeon popping out the clots is all that kept him alive from the theater to the boarding house.

  47. >>>And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

    This example may be poor, but Krugman is right about the socially acceptable ways in which to get things wrong, or right, in Washington.

  48. FWIW, Gupta later corrected those two mistakes himself on the air.

  49. Even if Krugman is broadly correct, this is partisan hackery at its worst: Gupta-a proponent of single-payer health care, incidentally-should be held “accountable” for having criticized an incoherent film by a director with a history of abusing source material?

    Even if Sicko is everything that you say it is, that doesn’t justify making invalid, factually flawed criticisms of it. There are enough valid criticisms to be made of it.

    Let me make sure I understand the Moynihan Standard here:

    – Misrepresenting claims made in a documentary in order to criticize it: NOT partisan hackery

    – Holding a journalist accountable for misrepresentations and invalid criticisms: partisan hackery

  50. And Moynihan pointed out as much in this post:

    There is no need to revisit whether or not Moore “got it right” in his film or in his counterattacks on Gupta and CNN, but it should be pointed out that our future surgeon general copped to two mistakes in his criticism of Sicko

  51. Gupta has said on a number of occasions that he would never allow medical or recreational marijuana use. bastard.

  52. Let me make sure I understand the ck standard here:

    – Making a couple of minor mistakes (one of which was based on an error carried forward), and then publicly acknowledging them – hackery

    – Saying that despite those publicly acknowledged mistakes in his statements, the speaker has never been ‘held to account’ – and furthermore that those misstatements are the equivalent of the ‘mistakes’ that have lead to the Iraq war – not hackery.

    I wouldn’t even call either of these ‘partisan’ because Gupta, Krugman, Obama, and to a much lesser extent Moore, are all on the same ‘team’.

  53. Anyone who can cut into actual brains without killing the patient is OK in my book.
    Extra points for never, ever mentioning masturbation techniques!
    In this he is far superior to the standard H&R troll, or Surgeon General for that matter.
    And he’s cute!
    Win win!

  54. Gupta is like a total fascist.

  55. Let me make sure I understand the ck standard here:

    You don’t.

    First, they were not “minor” mistakes. The entire basis of Gupta’s critique is that Moore was using inaccurate numbers (“fudging the facts”). But he wasn’t. (The problem with Moore, and single-payer health care advocates generally, is not that their numbers are wrong.)

    Second, even after acknowledging that his specific critiques of Moore’s data were incorrect, Gupta held fast to the position that Moore was “fudging facts”.

    The combination of these two things do constitute hackery on the part of a journalist, yes.

    Next, here is Moynihan’s sentence:

    Even if Krugman is broadly correct, this is partisan hackery at its worst: Gupta-a proponent of single-payer health care, incidentally-should be held “accountable” for having criticized an incoherent film by a director with a history of abusing source material?

    You’re making a different argument than he is. He’s not saying that Gupta should be forgiven since he admitted error, he’s saying that Sicko was a bad film and therefore even invalid criticism of it is no great offense. And this is precisely the kind of thing that went on during the buildup to the Iraq War.

    A: Saddam fed dissidents into woodchippers! He’s building nuclear bombs!

    B: I don’t think there’s any evidence of that.

    A: So you’re defending Saddam!

  56. Defending Moore’s facts is a Red Queen’s race.

  57. Krugman’s setting himself up as some kind of expert, and he can’t even spot a Potemkin village hospital?

    I’ve heard of ivory-tower morons in my time, but he takes the cake.

    -jcr

  58. Pro Lib,

    Red Queens race? Are we talkin bout the same red queen?

  59. Perhaps he means Madelyn Pryor.

  60. Naga-
    They are, in fact related. (as is Ms. Pryor, although more distantly)

  61. Naga,

    Go ask Alice. I think she’ll know.

  62. So now criticizing a “documentarian” who makes “documentaries” more devoid of fact than an Oliver Stone historical drama is enough to qualify you from the position of Surgeon General, because let’s face it, his beef probably has more to do with Gupta’s audacity to criticize Moore and Castro than any inadvertent numerical error.

    Funny, I would have thought actual medical credentials were more important than making a minor error related to movie criticism.

    And regardless of who was cited as the source for the amount spent per person, somewhere along the line this information had to be based on numbers provided by the Castro administration. Anyone who believes that bullshit is a total fucking idiot, or Sean Penn.
    Given Paul Krugman’s political leanings, I would be willing to bet anything he has repeated that bullshit lie, sometime in his career, that Cuba has a 99% literacy rate. Anybody fucking stupid enough to believe that bullshit shouldn’t be criticizing anyone, rather they should be watching reruns of Romper Room and wearing a helmet at the dinner table.

  63. In the above post the word qualify should be replaced with disqualify.

  64. “Second, even after acknowledging that his specific critiques of Moore’s data were incorrect, Gupta held fast to the position that Moore was “fudging facts”.”

    He was fudging the facts. The whole fucking documentary was one big fudging of facts, unless you think portraying Cuba’s healthcare system as one of the best in the world is somehow accurate. Or perhaps it was accurate to omit the fact that the dupes who went to Cuba (that includes Moore) were given access to hospitals and health care reserved for only the government bigwigs.

    Anybody that unabashedly transmits Communist propaganda to a broader audience is “fudging facts” by default.

  65. And to the person who insists Gupta’s error is such a big deal, why is it not a similarly big deal when he states, repeatedly, that he was mistaken? Are we now insisting that our public officials cannot ever make errors, inadvertent or not?

  66. “Does the Surgeon General’s office actually have any power or importance?

    Pretty much just a big soapbox–influence yes, actual political power, no.”

    I disagree with the above statements for the simple reason that when a Surgeon General appointed by a Democratic President during a time of large Democratic majorities in Congress implies in one of his statements that legislative remedies should be used to affect certain “desirable” public health outcomes, there is a very good chance we will be looking at some more nanny-state bullshit passing the Pelosi-Reid congress. They aren’t exactly known for their fondness of government restraint.

  67. Gosh it is so nice of you to be defending an Obama appointment. I like it.
    Oh, and as far as I can find out, Gupta does not favor single payer health care.

  68. hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.jhfjf

  69. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta nowhttp://www.mirei.com

  70. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta
    http://www.mirei.com

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