Ezra Klein's explanatory journalism website Vox.com hasn't officially launched yet, but that hasn't prevented it from drawing the ire of conservative pundits, and the latest outrage – coming from right-wing bloggers Erik Erickson of RedState and Patterico – has Klein admitting the need for more explaining on his site. Which maybe isn't the best sign.
The "Vox Explains" video in question is barely over 90 seconds, but Erickson and Patterico (among others) have plenty of beef. Vox's executive editor Matt Yglesias narrates, and the point is essentially this: stop worrying about the U.S. public debt. He's made the argument before. The video posits three reasons to stop freaking out: U.S. national income remains higher than public debt, and interest rates remain low, as does inflation.
But Yglesias gets into trouble a mere 5 seconds in. The video's title card reads: "How scary is the US public debt?" but Yglesias says "national debt." Conservatives were quick to point out that these are two different things. U.S. public debt refers to only debt held by the public, while the national debt encompasses all debt, adding in intergovernmental holdings, which is basically money the government owes itself. The issue is that the two measurements give you two different totals: $12.5 trillion and $17.5 trillion, respectively. Even though Yglesias says national debt, the video uses the $12.5 trillion figure to make its point.