Web Sides With Krugman in Sorkin Tiff

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On Tuesday, Paul Krugman bluntly called out his fellow New York Times colleague Andrew Ross Sorkin for misconstruing Krugman's thoughts on bank nationalization. Today, Sorkin responded in kind, deftly rebutting the Nobel Prize-winning economist with a cheeky "letter" to "Professor Krugman" in his DealBook blog. Sorkin documented his assertion that Krugman "pressed for Swedish-style" bank nationalization, while also declaring "I’m a big fan of yours" and "I love reading your column."

Sorkin's response has garnered more attention than Krugman's initial shot. Many commentators are leaping to Krugman's defense, while citing Sorkin's past tensions with his New York Times colleagues. Despite Sorkin's obvious talent and skill, many observers conclude that this member of the young pundit "Brat Pack" was in the wrong.

  • Do Your Research At Salon, Andrew Leonard blasts Sorkin for conflating temporary nationalization (which Krugman advocated) with the permanent government take-over of banks:
It would not have taken much rewriting of Sorkin's original column to make his same point. But Sorkin was sloppy, and made a factually incorrect claim that Krugman had recommended "nationalizing the entire banking system."

Hey, no big deal. People make mistakes like that all the time. But when called on it, proper form demands that you admit what you got wrong.
  • Bad Move  Given Sorkin's already tenuous standing at the Times, Foster Kamer smells an idiot move: "Not only was he wrong, but his attempt to shell-shock readers by calling someone out in his own building backfired miserably, and in doing so, he likely just threw his "haters" both in and outside of the Times some fuel for their fire."
  • Take Off The Kid-Gloves writes Mike Taylor at Media Bistro, mocking Sorkin's politeness despite the "blistering" title of his post. "An ego battle this banal poses a real threat that the combatants may fall unconscious, from sheer boredom," muses Taylor. "It's like watching a flyweight-division bout where both challenger and champ are wearing Sock-em Bop-ems."
  • Whoa There! Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner chides Sorkin for over-reaching. Despite citing several stories that characterize Krugman as a nationalization advocate--including a Bloomberg piece titled "Obama Should Nationalize U.S. Banks, Krugman Says"--Weiner says Sorkin made a mistake targeting Kruman for agreeing with the conventional wisdom among economists. "Sorkin should be familiar enough with the nuances of the actual argument—and familiar enough with Krugman’s commitment to precision—to know to hedge his position a bit." Giggles Weiner: "tentative win for Team KruKru."
  • And The Winner Is... Felix Salmon sums up the debate in a single tweet:
OK, enough Sorkin vs Krugman retweeting, suffice to say that NOT ONE PERSON has taken @andrewrsorkin's side on this one
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