“What I forgot was how politicised the Nobel Prize is…”

Mickey Kaus with a plausibly sceptical (as opposed to cynical) line on the Krugman Prize… The conversation is a lot more discursive than you might expect

  • Harry Flashman

    An interesting discussion but they appear to tie themselves in knots in trying to explain the differences between the partisan nature of today’s media and that of the past.

    It’s really quite simple; in the old days Hearst made no secret about his unashamed political bias but with today’s equivalents of the popular media the political bias is denied, the big US networks, the main city newspapers, the BBC and for example the Irish Times and RTE in Ireland seem to genuinely believe that they put forward a neutral message instead of purveying the heavily liberal soft left consensus message that the rest of us can obviously detect.

  • Alan

    Yes, the paradigm has shifted, and, in the past few months, it has shifted decisively. The Old Right libertarian and monetarist positions are now outré and outrageous in the eyes of most people.

    It is difficult for the most even handed commentator to argue for positions that are such obvious and categorical failures.

  • This discussion is pretty sad since there is no such thing as apolitical action or analysis when it comes to political affairs, whether it be the economics or peace prize when handing out the Nobel ones.

    It just shows the continuing Anglo-American myths about their administrative states – what I thought the Yes, Minister series would have finally laid to rest with the comings and goings of Sir Humphrey et al.

    At least poor Nigel Hawthorne did not live to see that all his humorous, informative efforts had gone for naught.

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes, because the soft left, liberal consensus bias in the media only started a couple of months ago.

  • Alan

    No, I said it has shifted decisively. The failure of the Old Right is a trend made manifest; hardly bias, mere reportage.

  • runciter

    the soft left, liberal consensus bias in the media

    It is not generally useful to label the media with party-political descriptors such as left/liberal/conservative.

    What the media outlets all share is that they reflect the interests of their owners.

    In the case of private/corporate media these will be private/corporate interests.

    In the case of government-controlled media these will be government interests.

  • Harry Flashman

    Thank you for conceding my point, at least we have moved on from the denial that the obvious and frankly these days rather shocking bias being displayed by the mainstream media is not the figment of the fevered imagination of conservatives but is now accepted as a simple fact.

    However whatever way you wish to look at it you can not with any degree of credibility describe the utterly uncritical, unresearched, slavish, quasi-messianic treatment of the current Democratic Party nominee for the US presidency as “reportage”.

    The reportage is going on in the fringes of the media, I have no doubt that one of the first acts of an Obama presidency will be to shut down such reportage and subject the internet and other fringe media to so-called “fairness” legislation which will in effect criminalise opposition to his presidency.

    Good luck with that scenario, I hope you are comfortable with the concept of an unfree, government regulated press.

  • Rory

    Harry,

    Would you care to name one national newspaper in either the UK or Ireland which is not owned and controlled in the intersests of capital? I certainly cannot bring one to mind. Can you?

  • Rory

    “interests”. Apologies.

  • susan

    For the record, I really enjoyed the blog post “The Name of This Band is Exploding Heads,” at Crooked Timber. “Wingnut demonology” is my new phrase for the day.

    Harry, a better woman would go toe to toe with you over the fact that it is McCain who is barring specific reporters from his press planes, denying interviews to entire networks, controlling both his vice presidential appointee’s access to the media and the media’s acces to his vice presidential appointee. A better woman would remind you of your predictions here that the nomination of Sarah Palin meant a landslide for the Republicans in November.

    But I am not a better woman. I am a terrible woman.

    Dear Harry ,

    Your friend susan sent you the following video from CNNBC: “Obama’s Loss Traced To Harry Flashman”

    Watch it here:

    http://www.cnnbcvideo.com/index.html?nid=0nE.MTloRW9rSuHROzar4TQyNjA4NjY-&referred_by=11384375-h.V1Ozx

    ** This message certified virus-free by ViruMail 2.1 **

  • Harry Flashman

    Rory, I am not saying that the media is a Trotskyite front, I’m saying that today it mainly peddles a liberal left wing bias and at least people who are witnessing this US election with an uncritical eye and seeing clearly the frankly astonishing pro-Obama bias are finally catching on.

    Now the reasons why a press baron like Murdoch might take a pro-Obama or a pro-Blair line are not for me to discern (and by the way I notice how you artfully sidestepped the elephant in corner by restricting your question to the newspapers and leaving out the massively influential, and more importantly publicly funded, BBC, Channel 4 and RTE) but at least I am happy to see that the position has moved on from denial of the blatant bias to acceptance that the bias exists.

    Of course it will all be too late, like I said you can be fairly certain that the media darling Obama will have those deeply illiberal sinister tendencies that always come to the fore when old school Marxists dress themselves up in moderate clothes and finally gain power.

    A lot of people couldn’t wait for Blair’s bright new dawn to get rid of that infamous Tory Nazi John Major.

    How are you enjoying 40 day detention, ID cards, shoot on sight coppers, bin snoopers, anti-terrorist laws, smoking bans, DNA registries, ‘hate crime’ legislation, universal CCTV and all the other myriad infringements on your old traditional and dare I say ‘conservative’ liberties?

    Just watch how much fun it’s going to be when Obama takes control with a supermajority in the Congress. You’ll all be sorry but just remember that your oul’ uncle Harry gave yez fair warning.

  • Harry Flashman

    It looks good susan but unfortunately my clapped out gas powered old computer can’t seem to play the link properly.

    Thanks for thinking of me anyway, I appreciate any act of kindness in these grim days.

  • susan

    Poor Harry. I did sincerely try to bring you a smile. And these days are grim, and I fear shall remain so for some time regardless of who takes the White House.

  • Dave

    “At least poor Nigel Hawthorne did not live to see that all his humorous, informative efforts had gone for naught.” – Trowbridge H. Ford

    Not really. Yes Minister had a good skit that was used by a few in the media to explain the voodoo economics behind the recent US financial bailout:

    “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, this must be done.”

  • Harry Flashman

    Susan I tried it out on a different pc and it worked a treat, excellent, very funny, it certainly gave me a chuckle.

    I will be sending it on to my old friend, and already committed Obama fan, who lives in the US.

    Maybe when the goon squads from the Chicago ACORN strom troopers come to round up the last heretics against El Presidente Obama, they might have some pity and just shoot me quickly in the cellar.

  • Mick Fealty

    One thing I would add to this conversation is that the reason blogs and blog derivative projects like the one above become compelling is their genuine independence. You kind of know what you are getting, whereas with larger corporations (public and private) you know you are getting a product that only sees light of after a sifting out of those matters deemed unacceptable by said owners.

    As a (longish) aside though, one thing that’s happening in broadcast is that once powerful indigenous brands are disappearing as ad revenue transfers to the net, where transparency, reliability and quality of output are more highly regarded. And tolerance for bullsh*t is much lower.

    I’m not sure that this is yet fully understood by some of the larger global brands like Newscorp. In the meantime, as the values of the net increase in influence, publicly owned corporations will steadily come under deeper scrutiny particularly for its news management/manipulation techniques, and will be forced to work more with the instincts of its individual journalists than with the editorial screening techniques of the broadcast era.

    Already those programmes that break the rules in that regard (eg, anything Andrew Neil is involved in) are more compelling than the old school output, whether we are ‘Internet heads’ or not.

    Lastly, I don’t think this will fundamentally break the liberal bias of publicly owned broadcasters. So long as they are answerable to a representative democracy, they will always be more liberal than the tastes of the general population. Parliamentary systems tend to produce a corpus of wets, whether they label themselves liberal or conservative. If and when there is a coup of some description, expect a sudden swing to the right (or the left for that matter).

  • Dave

    There is already a coup afoot via the US media. The real problem is that the manipulation techniques of the media are far too sophisticated for the people to see through – and, anyway, they don’t want to see through either the media or those who rise to political prominence through it because they just want someone to watch over them and tend to their needs, rather than to assume that responsibility of havong to think of fend for themselves. It’s infantilism and the Nannystate is the perfect nursery for them.

    On the plus side, the quasi-socialist polcies of the Democrats (increasing subprime loans ten-fold in 9-years in order to promote affordable housing among the poor) have near bankrupted America, so four years wherein Democrats have the Presidency and Congress will allow them to finish the job. In four years time, they’ll be back out on their arses and Americans will have a clearer understanding that Nanny doesn’t know best as they hoped she would.

  • Dave

    Typo: “…rather than assume the responsibility of having to think or fend for themselves.”

  • ALan

    “In four years time, they’ll be back out on their arses and Americans will have a clearer understanding that Nanny doesn’t know best as they hoped she would. ”

    So the Old Right infantilising of politics will continue will it? Not only are they desperate to pin ( somehow, anyhow – lie if necessary ! ) the devastating failure of their free market on anyone else, they also continue to thumb their noses at the rest of us.

    They are the straw clutchers, dependent on the New Centre to get it wrong. They are ready to leave the field and retire to their porches. Doubtless they will whittle away at their superiority and spit, fitfully, at the passers-by.

    There is a new consensus to be built – without them.

  • RepublicanStones

    One vast difference between the media of years gone by and the present situation is in regard of the actual amount available. By which I mean, all the various mediums from print to internet, and all the various companies now with their fingers in so many of thses news/media pies. In the old Citizen Kane days of an ‘oligarchy’ of media moguls people were limited in what they could digest or choose to digest information wise.

    With the explosion of newer technology , the marketplace for news and information has become alot more competitive and after all, news itself is a business, they’re all in it for a buck at the end of the day. This means that certain companies, periodicals, sites ,channels etc will directly target an politcal bias in the populace at large.
    After all, many people will read, watch and listen to news which reinforces their political viewpoint and indeed its often a case of listening to news they want to hear. Many big corporations run diametrically opposed periodicals or programmes for instance. This is because at the end of the day, there is money to be made by tailoring news and information to suit a customers own world view and so easier for him or her to open their wallet.

    I think we can at times be too critical of bias in the media, because once you step back and look at it, its not as discreet and nefarious as it sometimes seems.

  • runciter

    the quasi-socialist polcies of the Democrats (increasing subprime loans ten-fold in 9-years in order to promote affordable housing among the poor)

    No matter how many times you repeat this, you will always be wrong. There is nothing socialist about promoting private property ownership.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The reportage is going on in the fringes of the media, I have no doubt that one of the first acts of an Obama presidency will be to shut down such reportage and subject the internet and other fringe media to so-called “fairness” legislation which will in effect criminalise opposition to his presidency.

    This is, in effect, a suggestion that Obama will be able to successfully curtail the first amendment. Not that violating the US constitution has been an impediment for the current administration, but I’d be quite happy to take up a bet on this.

    Dave,

    On the plus side, the quasi-socialist polcies of the Democrats (increasing subprime loans ten-fold in 9-years in order to promote affordable housing among the poor)

    Dave, assuming this theory of yours is valid, why didn’t the Republicans (with their control of both houses and the Presidency) stop it ?

  • Greenflag

    Dave

    ‘the quasi-socialist policies of the Democrats (increasing subprime loans ten-fold in 9-years in’

    On the other hand in the period 1980 to 2008 total American Debt (public , corporate and private (which includes all mortgages and credit card debt) quadrupled . During the almost 30 year period since 1980 -Republicans have controlled the US administration apart from Clintons 8 year interlude and even he had to kow tow to a Republican Congress and Senate after from 1994 after only two years in office .

    As subprime mortgages formed only a small percentage of all mortgages and why single them out in particular for the ‘collapse’ of the financial system ?

    It suits the neo conservative agenda that’s all .

    I’ve some bad news for you . Government by the neo conservatives , for the neo conservatives has’nt worked for middle class America . It has enriched a few at the expense of the many . The many have nore ‘votes’ than the few.

  • Harry Flashman

    You’re on CS, I bet that within the next two years a serious move will be made to bring the internet and talk radio under the current so-called “fairness doctrine” it will be put forward as a measure to create “balance” and seek to curtail nasty “hate speech” and as such people like you will defend it despite the inherent illiberalism of the concept.

    How much do you want to bet? (Help me out here, it already looks like I’m out a fortune on my “Obama won’t be president” bets).

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    The US media is not full of left wing bias. The biggest problem I always found with the US MSM is the tendency to try to balance everything. They refuse to take a side even when its a matter of demonstrating that it is a false statement being shown to be false. Krugman described it well when he said they would present a discussion on the earth being flat as being republicans claim earth is flat and democrats dispute this rather than state themselves that its not flat. It is this that has allowed the Republican echo machine to pervert a great deal of debate by simply putting up straw men arguments in the knowledge that the MSM wont fact check it or contradict it. So that instead of it being a discussion between wingnut bullshit and everyone else it is republicans vs democrats and who knows who is right.

    even as I type the MSM are happily running a story from McCains camp about Podesta writing Obama’s inauguration speech before he actually wins the election. In fact it’s not true because the speech in question was written for a hypothetical progressive president a year before Obama became the nominee when Podesta supported Hilary. It can be demonstrated by facts to be false but the MSM do not do this they turn it in to a he said she said between the campaigns instead. That is not liberal bias.

    There won’t be a restriction on the internet it would never survive a First Amendment challenge and the liberal ACLU would be the first to point that out.

  • Mick

    Harry,

    You really think they’re going to get that one past Kos or Josh Marshall? Obama’s problem is not reeling in the internet. It’s how he uses it again after four years of incumbency.

    He’s not doing that by killing the golden goose!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry,

    You may have misunderstood me. I never have and never will support the curtailment of “hate speech”. I’ve consistently defended, for example, the right of Iris Robinson to say what she likes. The reason why freedom of speech is important is so that everyone can see how dangerous some people are. I have no idea what makes you think that I would be in favour of anything remotely resembling this, unless you’re making the mistake of lumping together everyone who doesn’t slavishly support Bush and his policies as some kind of coherent grand liberal coalition.

    I agree with Duncan, I do not think that this is likely to get past the first amendment, and I cannot see organizations like the ACLU hesitating to oppose it.

    So yes, you’re on. A tenner ? And we’re agreed that this is some kind of legislation which either blocks funding to, or attempts to actively censor, right-wing talk shows and similar, on or before 31st December 2010 ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, further to that, if you lose, I won’t ask for a tenner off you but will ask you to wear the coveted “It was Sammy McNally what done it” gold jim’ll fix it style badge awarded to people who consistently fail political predicitions on Slugger 😉

  • Dave

    “…the quasi-socialist policies of the Democrats (increasing subprime loans ten-fold in 9-years in order to promote affordable housing among the poor)…” – Dave

    “No matter how many times you repeat this, you will always be wrong. There is nothing socialist about promoting private property ownership.” – runciter

    And no matter how many times you try to obfuscate promoting ownership of private property with a socialist policy of promoting affordable housing among low income groups, you will still be confusing two separate political agendas for your own duplicitous purpose (transferring responsibility for socialist policies and practices onto the capitalist system).

    For example, both capitalism and socialism supports taxation. Your flawed logic holds that because socialist parties support higher levels of taxation in order to redistribute wealth from those who have earned it to those who haven’t, then that is not a socialist policy because it involves taxation and that is a policy that capitalism supports.

    Contrary to your confusion, socialists do support ownership of private property. There isn’t a socialist government in Europe who doesn’t. The issue is not ownership of private property; it is the promotion of ownership of it among a particular social class and the reckless methods that were devised for that purpose, e.g. passing legislation that required lenders to proffer trillions of implicitly state-backed equity to high risk, low income families, thereby creating a mountain of toxic subprime debt that infected the entire financial system in the US. It may suit the Democrats to blame the failure of socialist policies on the capitalist system by seeking to portray reckless affordable housing policies as examples of predatory lending by the banks but the reality is otherwise.

    Before this farce collapsed, 20% of all mortgages issued in the US per year were subprime. Why is that debt toxic? Because it has very high defaults rates in a market where banks are not financially geared to cope with higher than single figure defaults. Why does it have very high default rates? Err, the clue is in the word ‘poor’ – the lack of creditworthiness of the people to whom trillions of dollars were loaned, and the legislation passed by the Democrats which compelled money to be loaned to them using insane criteria, e.g. that a welfare check must be counted as earned income, thereby allowing people do didn’t even have a job to get a mortgage. That subprime debt and the securitization of it almost led to collapse of the financial system. You have socialists to thank for that.

    By the way, the one good thing about a Democratic presidency is that they are now hamstringed by the mess that their policies have created. They won’t be able to do a damn thing for the next four years without raising taxes. And as they will quickly be told by all and sundry in the finance system, raising taxes as you are in recession is a great way to create depression. I doubt even the Democrats are that deranged. More likely they’ll revert to good old free market principles. 😉

  • Dave

    Harry, I don’t think Obama will be able to control free speech without presuading Americans that it is in their best interest to remove that right from their Constitution, so socialism proper will never arise in the US – socialism cannot flourish without considerable brainwashing of the people. Instead, you will have socialist-lite as we have in Europe, and perhaps a shift to a left/right divide in the political system as they have in the UK, but that’s about it.

    The real threat to free speech is closer to home: the EU. It’s plans to regulate free speech on the Internet are well advanced.

    Google challenges EU plan to regulate the internet

    Euro MPs to vote on anonymous blog ban

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dave,

    Your flawed logic holds that because socialist parties support higher levels of taxation in order to redistribute wealth from those who have earned it to those who haven’t, then that is not a socialist policy because it involves taxation and that is a policy that capitalism supports.

    On the other hand, your flawed logic, that anyone who supports a government policy to spread access to affordable housing is a socialist, means that Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government were socialists.

    Contrary to your confusion, socialists do support ownership of private property.

    No they don’t, Dave. It’s right there in the dictionary. And in Wikipedia, as well.

    There isn’t a socialist government in Europe who doesn’t.

    There aren’t any socialist governments in Europe, Dave. Social Democrats, maybe.

    You can’t redefine “socialism” to be whatever economic policies you happen to disagree with.

    By the way, the one good thing about a Democratic presidency is that they are now hamstringed by the mess that their policies have created.

    Since you can so easily blame the Democrats for encouraging a specific fiscal policy during a period when they did not have control of Congress or the White House, I’m sure you won’t mind when the Democrats blame the Republicans for everything that goes wrong ?

    Incidentally, the USA already is full of “socialism” in the form of state control and intervention in the economy, something the Republicans have never seriously attempted to deal with. The TVA is the obvious example, and the role of the Pentagon in the economy is another one. And look at the tax breaks and other grants being given to the “big three” Detroit motor companies, companies which are effectively being subsidized for their failure, just like the good old days in the USSR. I don’t hear John McCain or any of the other lunatics complaining about “socialism” there.

  • runciter

    And no matter how many times you try to obfuscate promoting ownership of private property with a socialist policy of promoting affordable housing among low income groups

    Are you suggesting that government-supported subprime mortgages were not intended to increase private property ownership?

    This is getting really bizarre, Dave.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to admit that these policies weren’t actually “socialist”?

  • susan

    Obama’s problem is not reeling in the internet. It’s how he uses it again after four years of incumbency.

    He’s not doing that by killing the golden goose!
    Posted by Mick on Oct 26, 2008 @ 03:45 PM

    Mick, –if Obama wins, and I hope he does — I imagine the spectre of “Palin 2012,” “Huckabee 2012” or to a lesser extent “Romney 2012” and Supreme Court nominations will be in the fundraising rallying cry. Hope and change..fear and loathing… rinse, repeat.

    Interesting to see the splits opening up in the Republican party, between free market fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, and more middle of the road Republicans.

  • kensei

    First up, Krugman by all accounts deserves his Nobel for some blinding insights that are now literally the textbook way things are taught.

    But I think to argue it is political based on Presidential politics is to miss the point. In fact, it’s egotism. If there is a political dimension, I would guess it is due to elevating the type of economics that Krugman preaches at a point where the old system has to an extent fallen away. Same with Al Gore. That has less to do with sticking it to George Bush and more with giving a shot in the arm to Environmentalism.

  • Harry Flashman

    CS you’re on, between the credit crunch and my liberal throwing around “McCain Landslide” predictions in August it couldn’t possibly be any more ruinous for me to take up your bet.

    However the wording of your bet is a bit off;

    “And we’re agreed that this is some kind of legislation which either blocks funding to, or attempts to actively censor, right-wing talk shows and similar, on or before 31st December 2010”

    I’m not saying that an Obama presidency will actively censor the internet or talk radio, he’s not that stupid, he or the Congress will bring forward nice, anodyne sounding legislation which will either be based on a “fairness” doctrine or on “hate speech” elimination and this legislation will be primarily used to curtail those media which presently are not found to have their tongue firmly lodged in the Obamessiah’s rectal passage.

    Of course when such legislation is put forward the only people who will want to oppose it will be seen as “right wing nutters” or “fascists” and the first people to be so prosecuted will be odd balls running websites out of their mother’s basements and no one will object, but rapidly as in the case in Canada with Mark Steyn and MacLeans Magazine, the guns will be turned on mainstream conservatives. (And don’t bother pointing out that the cases against Steyn were eventually dismissed, the fact remains that under no liberal society should such kangaroo trials have ever taken place in the first instance).

    God Bless your faith in the ACLU by the way, you won’t find them defending the ramparts of free speech, as conservative student organisations censored and shut down in campuses across the US have discovered to their cost. Actually I predict the legislation that will be brought forward will be very similar to the “speech codes” which are now endemic in US universities and which are invariably used to create a ‘chill effect’ against people like Christians, anti-abortion campaigners, pro-war groups and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the liberal/left worldview.

  • Alan

    “implicitly state-backed equity”

    What complete. tendentious, unsupported by reason or fact, bunkum. If sub-prime lending was state backed, then the whole institutional apparatus of the capitalist world is socialism’s sock puppet.

    I think you’ll find your trolley some way back up the road.