Thursday, July 24, 2003

Donald Luskin has gone to great, great lengths to try to hang Prof. Krugman on a single word: "covert". The entry was updated by Luskin later to reflect the fact that Plame was apparently, yes, a covert operative, but the premise of the whole thing was weak anyway: Krugman was relatively careful to hide this behind an "if these allegations are true", and everybody involved is surely smart enough to know that the only way the allegations matter is if Plame was a covert operative, as there's no harm in mentioning someone who is already "out". Men, dogs, biting and whatnot.

What really interests me, though, is one of the things that Luskin attacked, yet failed to follow through on:

We'll start with the first sentence: "And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife."...there's no "affair of Joseph Wilson's wife" -- these two paragraphs are the attempt to invent one...

Another reader alerted me to an online column by David Corn on the website of The Nation, published on July 16, two days after the Novak column mentioned in Krugman's column. It has been quoted, discussed, and linked on several other websites -- none of great note, but arguably this constitutes an "affair."
He also attacks Krugman for having not properly sourced his information... a weak charge considering that Op/Ed columnists aren't usually expected to be as careful as news reporters on this, but it's somewhat fair.

Here's the kicker, though:

what if the reason Krugman picked up on it is because he read it here?

Well, not necessarily here... although I know the good Professor has read my humble blog in the past, I have no idea whether or not he's a regular reader. (If he is, I'd be happy to receive an email to that effect. Or, for that matter, a comment in the comments section.) This story, however, isn't really mine... it's been followed on Calpundit, Eschaton, Mark Kleiman's blog,the the History News Network and pretty much every else in the blogosphere. There was also widespread recognition that the only way that this thing matters is if she's a covert operative, so that might explain why Paul made the "covert" assumption that he did. Even the particular tack that he took on the story seems reminiscent of Blogovia's.

It also might explain the sourcing issues. It is quite possible that the Times is leery of having its columnists mention bloggers as sources, as it's one of the few media outlets that does use some sort of blogging (as far as I know) as part of its online content. That's not to say that Paul wouldn't be allowed to do it, period, but it may have had an influence. It would also explain why he was on this story so quickly, even (as Luskin asserts) before the Newsday article that confirmed that she was covert.

(Yes, it is possible that he decided to write based on the Nation article that kickstarted this whole thing, but I find that unlikely. Common foes aside, Krugman and the Nation have precious little in common, and he wouldn't call a single Nation article an "affair".)

So, once we leave aside the Luskin-esque dross, the real question is whether Calpundit, Atrios, and the rest of us have somewhat more influence than we previously believed. It's certainly possible, and it has precedent. Care to weigh in, Professor Krugman?

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