Paul Krugman's reputation as the nation's most trustworthy economist is almost equalled by his sober political thinking. Krugman is a liberal, but he is no ideologue and views politics through the prism of extreme pragmatism. And as any realist/pragmatist knows, there is no comparison between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in any sense of the word.
In his latest column for the New York Times, Krugman lays out the frustrating ways in which the news media will inevitably handle the battle between Clinton and Trump -- making the race seem closer than it actually is, creating a a false equivalence between the two, and attempting to downplay the true nature of Trump's base.
The false equivalence is one of the media's gravest sins, argues Krugman:
You might think that this would be impossible on substantive policy issues, where the asymmetry between the candidates is almost ridiculously obvious. To take the most striking comparison, Mr. Trump has proposedhuge tax cuts with no plausible offsetting spending cuts, yet has also promised to pay down U.S. debt; meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has proposed modest spending increases paid for by specific tax hikes.
That is, one candidate is engaged in wildly irresponsible fantasy while the other is being quite careful with her numbers.
Krugman also makes it clear that the latest media narrative depicting Trump supporters as being mostly concerned with the corruption in Washington DC is completely false. "Now I’m seeing suggestions that Trumpism is driven by concerns about political gridlock," writes Krugman. "No, it isn’t. It isn’t even mainly about “economic anxiety.”"
The true reason millions of Republicans are getting behind Trump? Good ol' fashioned racism:
Trump support in the primaries was strongly correlated with racial resentment: We’re looking at a movement of white men angry that they no longer dominate American society the way they used to. And to pretend otherwise is to give both the movement and the man who leads it a free pass.
In the end, bad reporting probably won’t change the election’s outcome, because the truth is that those angry white men are right about their declining role. America is increasingly becoming a racially diverse, socially tolerant society, not at all like the Republican base, let alone the plurality of that base that chose Donald Trump.
Krugman is of course completely right about this, and if ever there was a time for the the mainstream news media -- that, lest we forget, legitimized the likes of George Bush and his war in Iraq -- to get its act together and report sensibly on an American presidential election, it is now.