Monday, August 20, 2012

Niall Ferguson: Dolt

Newsweek recently grievously chastised Fareed Zakaria for some "plagiarism" so slight as to be nearly invisible. Meanwhile, Niall Ferguson, Harvard Prof (right-wing affirmative action hire??) puts up a patently dishonest attack on all things Obama and gets a major cover story.

Paul Krugman attacks one egregious point:

There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:

The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.

Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.

Ferguson got a chance to respond and came out with guns... uh ...

Krugman counters in his Conscience of a Liberal blog by saying: “The ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit—because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.” But I very deliberately said “the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA,” not “the ACA.” There is a big difference.

What Krugman said, remember, is that Ferguson's juxtaposition of the two sentences linked by the "but" was extremely misleading in that it implied that the second contradicted the first. Ferguson's "defense" is that he did that in full knowledge that what he implied was not true. Now it is possible to argue that the CBO analysis is wrong, and Ferguson does try that tactic here, but that's not what he said. The essence of a lie is intent to mislead, and Ferguson just pleaded guilty to that.