All TAPPED out?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 6, 2002

I occasionally read The American Prospect's blog, Tapped, "just to find out what the enemy is up to." Today, Instapundit directed me to the blog (on an unrelated item) and I spotted a defense of Krugman. Actually, it's a rather lame defense of Krugman.

The writer, a flack for the Office of Management and Budget, alleges that Krugman quoted an OMB press release that included mistaken information that was later retracted but that Krugman called a "lie". Kaus seems to think that Krugman then more or less conceded the error in this new column.

But he didn't! Instead, he pointed out -- with an assist from Spinsanity's Brendan Nyhan -- that the OMB didn't "retract" anything, because they never replaced the incorrect number with the correct number. (The correct number in question, which would have had to do with how much of the growing deficit was attributable to Bush's tax cut, would have made Bush look very bad indeed.) The OMB simply erased the lie -- er, the incorrect figure -- from the press release. So Krugman had nothing to retract, and retracted nothing.

Tapped seems to confuse a correction with a retraction. Let's use the following test statement:

Tapped averages 5 page hits daily.

Now, I can retract that by simply deleting it. Tapped seems to argue that the only "proper" or "honest" way to retract that statement is to replace it with the accurate figure. That is,

Tapped averages 50 page hits daily.

One method is a correction. One is a retraction. From Webster's New World Dictionary (4th Edition):

re-trac-tion 1) withdrawal, as of a statement, promise, charge, etc.
cor-rec-tion 2) a change that corrects a mistake; change from wrong to right

The correct figures on the results of the tax cut on the projected surplus are in the report. The sad thing is, that this is such a nothing issue (except for Krugman and Tapped), that even the black helicopter crowd would be bored with it.

Krugman does have some explaining to do. Whether you want to call it a correction or a retraction. Krugman is wrong.

*UPDATE* Kaus has more on Krugman here. To quote Glenn Reynolds: "Of course, he's right!"

**UPDATE** The Minuteman also weighs in. Scroll up and he's even got column ideas for Krugman.


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August 2002



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