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ABC’s This Week Continues the Dumbing of America

Some time ago, after ABC began occasionally including Paul Krugman on This Week panels, which began to expose the silliness and misrepresentations of people like George Will, someone must have realized that it was highly risky to give Paul Krugman or his type too much time, because that would expose how silly and dishonest most of the This Week panelists usually are.

The solution, which we saw in its extreme version today, is to swarm any fact-based panelist with enough liars and Serious People Who Have Been Wrong About Everything so that the lonely fact-based panelist can’t possibly refute all the absolute gibberish the rest of the panel spouts.

So consider this morning’s panel, in which Paul Krugman is arrayed against:

  • George Will, always primed with enough misleading numbers and selective anecdotes to reaffirm the right wing’s view of reality.  It would take Krugman the entire time just to refute him.
  • Carly Fiorina, the failed CEO of HP who nearly drove her company into the ground, was fired, and then failed to win the governorship of California, giving us the standard GOP line that, if only we unleashed the entrepreneurial spirit of business people like her, America could succeed again.  It would take two Krugmans full time to rebut a woman who only does misleading talking points for Team Republican, and that’s the role she actually serves on the Romney California team.
  • David Walker, former Comptroller General, who failed to do his bank regulatory job and (Director of the GAO from 1998 to 2008) who headed the Pete Peterson Foundation, has been wrong about the stimulus, wrong about deficits, wrong about entitlements, etc, etc, but who is now one of D.C.’s favorite deficit hysterics for slashing entitlements which are invariably lumped as socialsecuritymedicaremedicaidfoodstamps, because they’re obviously responsible for our huge deficits.
  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, possibly selected to pretend to balance Carly Fiorina, but she’s on Team GOP and he’s on Team Google, to give us insights of a large corporation, but who neglected to mention his company is under investigation by the Justice Department — and that takes a lot, these days — for violating antitrust laws, which means everything he says about the wonders of the “market” is something his company works actively to undermine over your ignored protests.
  • And finally, Jennifer Granholm, a decent person, Democratic ex-governor who has some useful things to say, especially about why it was a good idea to save the auto industry.  She helped rebut Carly Fiorina on that point, but even she holds standard D.C. talking points that Krugman had to spend time correcting.

Now combine this with the usually clueless George Stephanopoulus and you’ve created an impossible task for anyone hoping to have a reality-based discussion break through the fog of misinformation and failed theories.   Since providing a fact-based reality check is Krugman’s role, and he only gets to talk at best 1/7th, or 14% of the time — and Walker and Fiorina made sure to interrupt and talk over him repeatedly — the odds you would be dumber by the end of the show were very high.   And that’s exactly how it went.

So how much more misinformed would you be after watching this show?  Consider what we learned:

From Walker: the biggest economic problem facing the country is the deficit, which can only be solved if we broaden the tax base — i.e., tax poor people — but simplify and lower tax rates on everyone else, so that – and he didn’t say this, but it’s what he supports — the rich pay less and the middle/lower classes pay more — and please, can we not talk about inequality and how it became so bad? — while we slash the economic security of most Americans by cutting Social Security and Medicare.  Walker later promotes hysteria over the “unfunded obligations “of “entitlements” — OMG! $5 trillion more in Social Security in one year! — so Krugman has to remind viewers that he’s actually read the Social Security and CBO reports, which basically say, “it’s the economy, stupid!”

From Fiorina: Echoes Walker on getting those lazy poor people to pay more taxes and accept less in SS/Medicare.  Explains the economy is sagging because we haven’t unleashed the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses. She then trots out the familiar, “we have the highest taxes!” . . .  so Krugman has to spend part of this 1:7 ratio of rebuttal time saying she’s flat wrong, while Granholm rebuts Fiorina on the virtues of states playing beggar thy neighbor by trying to bribe companies to move to North Carolina at Michigan’s or Washington State’s expense.

From Will: Obama is failing, because this recovery is slower than the average of the last seven recessions, especially the Reagan recovery after the Volker-Fed-induced recession in the 1980s.  Krugman gets only a few seconds to explain this is bogus, noting that in the Reagan example, we accepted 4% inflation, which helped, but The Bernanke allows only about 2% today.  Embarrassing silence; faced with a relevant fact that undermines the standard meme, they move on to another topic.  He doesn’t get time to explain the difference between a massive financial crash that wiped out $8 trillion in private housing wealth and a recession deliberately induced by Volker raising Fed interest rates.

Krugman tries to explain the decline in government employment versus private employment coming back to pre-recession levels — but they talk over him, so he does not get a chance to explain that the GOP/Dem/White House deficit hysterics have effectively blocked most efforts to support the states instead of allowing layoffs and continue government spending to boost demand. The entire economic discussion is hopeless, and apparently no one but Krugman has been watching Europe strangle itself into recessions and depressions by doing exactly what the deficit hysterics advocate.

All in all, possibly the worst This Week panel in months, but under Stephanopoulus we’re coming to expect that.   George, however, thought this was a wonderful discussion.

But let’s not forget the usually uncounted 8th panelist: Chevron gets an unrebutted chance at the end to assure us that only small businesses create jobs, Chevron supports small businesses, so relying on oil creates jobs!

Update:  Krugman’s reaction:  We’re Doomed!


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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley