Yesterday, a post appeared on a Google+ account representing itself as belonging to Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:
The trouble is, Krugman doesn’t have a Google+ account and did not make this statement. This morning, a post from Krugman on his actual New York Times blog explained:
Well, this is interesting. I hear that the not-so-good people at National Review are attacking me over something I said on my Google+ page. Except, I don’t have a Google+ page.
Apparently some people can’t find enough things to attack in what I actually say, so they’re busy creating fake quotes. And I have enough on my plate without trying to chase all this stuff down.
So if you see me quoted as saying something really stupid or outrageous, and it didn’t come from the Times or some other verifiable site, you should probably assume it was a fake.
A number of right-wing outlets jumped on this statement without bothering to check whether the Google+ account actually belonged to Krugman.
The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney tweeted:
Hot Air, following the link from Carney, put up a post attacking Krugman, which it later updated to acknowledge that Krugman never made the statement.
The Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll wrote a piece with the headline “Quake exposes Keynesian fraud,” which has since been updated to acknowledge that the Krugman statement was a hoax. However, Carroll apparently stands by his attacks on Krugman:
Some thought Krugman’s pining for more damage was so outrageous that the Google+ post was a hoax. Maybe it is. [UPDATE: It is a hoax!] But Krugman’s quake statement is perfectly in line with everything else he has ever said on the subject. After 9/11, Krugman wrote: “Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack — like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression — could even do some economic good.” In 2008 he said on This Week: “it took an enormous public works program known as World War II to bring the economy out of a Depression.” And just recently Krugman suggested that massive government defense spending to prevent a fictional alien invasion could also spur economic growth.
But what happens when the aliens don’t attack? Wouldn’t all that spending on anti-alien rays be wasted? Yes. But the Church of Keynsianism doesn’t care. As long as government policy is driving up spending, it doesn’t matter what the government spends the money on or what else gets destroyed in the process.
Reason magazine also put up a post without bothering to investigate whether the account was legitimate:
The post has now been updated with an apology.
National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson indicated that he hoped he was “being had” but, like many of his conservative colleagues, did not bother to investigate further before putting up his post:
First the stimulus wasn’t big enough. Now the earthquake isn’t big enough. Paul Krugman:
People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage.
I honestly cannot tell if I am being had here. I hope I am.
Where’s the Nikkei opening today?
However, the winner in this contest of irresponsible reporting may be National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg. He sent out numerous sarcastic tweets attacking Krugman for his supposed statement, and has thus far not retracted:
This is not the first time right-wing websites have skipped the fact-checking process and reprinted as fact something that later turned out to be a fabrication.