The Right Coast

May 28, 2004
All the news that fits, we'll print
By Tom Smith

Were the prisoners recently released from Abu Ghraib attacked, or was that just celebratory gunfire? The possibility that their fellow countrymen might value the prisoners' lives even less than the evil US Army is a possibility The Times spares us thought of by not including the incident in their account at all.

Perhaps this is what Paul Krugman means when he celebrates today the liberation of the press he thinks he is witnessing from "the tyranny of even-handedness." A nice turn of phrase. Krugman may have a talent, not only for mathematical models of international trade, but also for Orwellian slogans. Where does one get, I wonder, having escaped this tyranny? To the republic of bias? The rule of prejudice? The commonwealth of fanatics? He and Al Gore should talk it over.

As I understand Krugman's economics, which isn't well, I gather he's not a big one for optimal equilibria. Being in something of an eccentric orbit himself, perhaps they don't appeal to him. But I think, or hope anyway, that an equilibriating process may be at work in the press, by which as they liberate themselves from "the tyranny of even-handedness" they also separate themselves from all but their most rabid readers. Most people are not geniuses, but they can figure out most stories have two sides.