News attacks

by John Quiggin on August 3, 2011

I’ve received the ultimate accolade from News Corporation, graduating from snarky asides and dark mutterings in which I’m identified only indirectly to a full-length hit piece in our only national (general) newspaper, The Australian. This worked out pretty well for me, giving my friends the opportunity to say nice things in my defence, and even the Oz comments thread was mostly favorable. I was even, briefly, a trending topic on Twitter! Perhaps the spell of Murdoch is starting to fade?

{ 46 comments }

1

Chris Bertram 08.03.11 at 7:33 am

Congratulations John!

2

Kenny Easwaran 08.03.11 at 7:37 am

Interestingly out of the three comments that appear on the front part of the page right now, two seem to be pretty strongly anti-Quiggin. It is a remarkably fact-free hit piece though.

3

soru 08.03.11 at 9:59 am

Not entirely fact-free. For example, from the linked article:

The newspaper you’re now reading is “filled with lies” aimed at furthering Murdoch’s political and commercial interests.

4

bert 08.03.11 at 11:33 am

At last, a compelling argument for a Murdoch-model paywall.

5

Malaclypse 08.03.11 at 11:42 am

The Australian is a “worthless gutter press rag”. It is a “sad joke”, even if the “downward spiral” of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald means there isn’t much competition. It is “part of a political machine, using its power and wealth to crush its opponents and critics by whatever means it finds most convenient”.

Murdoch’s readers “have demonstrated, over and over, that they prefer comfortable lies to inconvenient truths”. That’s because “everyone is increasingly aware that truth and falsehood are no longer meaningful terms for those on the Right”.

Well, yes.

6

BenSix 08.03.11 at 12:05 pm

Journalists have this unnerving confidence in their ability to channel public feelings. The charmingly named Stutchbury, for example, seems to expect his readers to be as insulted by attacks on his employers as he is.

7

The Raven 08.03.11 at 12:52 pm

The Murdochtopus attacks!

“Don’t care what they say about me, long as they spell my name right.”–A. Non.

8

Steve LaBonne 08.03.11 at 12:54 pm

Journalists have this unnerving confidence in their ability to channel public feelings. The charmingly named Stutchbury, for example, seems to expect his readers to be as insulted by attacks on his employers as he is.

I would employ Occam’s Razor and deduce that his motivation is simpler than that- he wishes to continue receiving his paycheck.

9

sg 08.03.11 at 1:06 pm

Well done Professor Quiggin. I’m really interested in the phenomenon of people misspelling your name in comments. It happened at the Australian, it happens here, it happens at LP and it even happens at deltoid. It’s not like your name is hard to spell. No one ever seems to misspell “Bertram” or “Farrell” or even “Eszter”. So why do I see so much “Quiggan” and “Quiggen”? Does it happen at your own blog too?

10

Robin 08.03.11 at 1:13 pm

Bravo. Bravo.

11

Ingrid Robeyns 08.03.11 at 1:22 pm

This reminds me that when Amartya Sen got the Nobel Prize, the Wall Street Journal had an editorial attacking him for being a Marxist – a very nasty piece. For some people, given their own ideological location, one is very quickly put in the corner of the extreme left…

And, btw, congratulations with your Distinguished Fellowship!

12

Caleb D'Anvers 08.03.11 at 1:37 pm

Reading the comments on that piece, it’s darkly amusing to see that the most “anti-PC,” anti-Green, anti-academic comments are also the most philosophically relativistic. Why, they’re practically postmodern in their “two sides to every story, everyone has their own personal truth” pretensions. Who exactly are the relativists, again?

13

bh 08.03.11 at 1:52 pm

Congratulations! Seriously. I’d have that article framed and mounted on my office wall if it happened to me.

This seems as good a time as any to thank you & likeminded blogging souls for what you provide — a bit of sanity and insight in a world where most economics reporting is a bitter joke.

14

P O'Neill 08.03.11 at 1:55 pm

It’s pretty funny that the Murdochtopus trusts the planet on global warming — like it trusted the hacks at NotW.

15

William Timberman 08.03.11 at 2:41 pm

Far left! Far left! That seems to be all the WSJ’s got (ahem) left these days. Honestly, though, just how far left is sensible economics anyway? The economists I read, or try to read — my mathematical education is barely serviceable, and the last of it was almost 50 years ago — don’t seem all that far left to me. Keynes, Samuelson, Galbraith, Krugman, Baker, DeLong, and yes, Quiggin, only seem as far to the left as you need to go to treat everybody as worthy of getting by in whatever world we intend to have.

Now when I think of the Far Left, which is where you sometimes wind up when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace…I think of a credible plan of battle which is capable of enforcing politically the sensible economics of all those sensible economists that the Murdoch Empire loves to attack. Coming up with such a plan isn’t easy because, as Marx’s late followers discovered to their dismay, it can all too easily morph into the evil that it’s supposed to remedy. Still, looking at Keynes’ The Economics of the Peace in one hand, and Krugman’s current blog post on the economic consequences of the Euro in the other, I once again come ’round to the thought that good policies are not enough in a world which stacks the dice against them.

Professor Quiggin and the other posters at CT are painfully aware of this conundrum, and are doing their best, it seems to me, to grapple with it. Good on ’em, I say, and let’s all hope for the best.

16

William Timberman 08.03.11 at 2:46 pm

Make that The Economic Consequences of the Peace, if you please. Apologies to the great one. Comment in haste, repent at leisure, etc., etc.

17

MPAVictoria 08.03.11 at 2:50 pm

As Krugman says, being attacked by the Murdoch owned press is a badge of honor.
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/congratulations-to-john-quiggin/

Congratulations John.
We need more voices like you.

18

MPAVictoria 08.03.11 at 2:55 pm

“The economists I read, or try to read—my mathematical education is barely serviceable, and the last of it was almost 50 years ago—don’t seem all that far left to me”

I agree completely. None of the economists you lisited – Keynes, Samuelson, Galbraith, Krugman, Baker, DeLong or Quiggin – are advocating for the nationalization of the major industries or calling for revolution. Yet they are painted by many in the media as “extreme” and “radical”.

19

The Tragically Flip 08.03.11 at 3:02 pm

Not surprising, but it really doesn’t seem to me they even attempted to prove the thesis in the title about you being “far left.” All they did was quote a bunch of criticism you’ve levelled at them, and try to refute it. Even if we accept their rebuttals, how does that make you “far left”? That you’re a poor media critic seems to be the worst thing one could draw from the piece. I suppose they did mention you discussing Marx, which in wingnut logic makes you a marxist, but beyond that, it’s pretty thin.

Which is to say that as I don’t read Australian newspapers much, I’m increasingly sympathetic to your claims about the Australian given the weakness of this essay attacking you (am already sympathetic given that it is a Murdoch rag which is already 2 strikes against). At least selectively quote some of your academic work or dig up a college paper where you call for seizing the commanding heights of the economy or something.

20

dictateursanguinaire 08.03.11 at 3:43 pm

@ #3 that was priceless

21

Philip 08.03.11 at 3:45 pm

Even the title is stupid: ‘An economist who is good in theory but on the far left in practice ‘, as though two clauses are in some way contradictory.

22

Sev 08.03.11 at 4:01 pm

#14 “It’s pretty funny that the Murdochtopus trusts the planet on global warming—like it trusted the hacks at NotW.”

Abusers do tend to trust their victims, often with good reason, though in this case not. As the hacks trusted Sarah Payne.

23

hartal 08.03.11 at 4:51 pm

Actually for a hit piece it’s pretty respectful of you. It seems that all those cheap shots against Marx paid off. Or maybe the writer actually does understand and respect your theoretical work or brilliant recent book. I bet that it’s the former.

24

Substance McGravitas 08.03.11 at 5:02 pm

Very entertaining piece and comments. Congratulations once more.

25

lemmy caution 08.03.11 at 6:07 pm

Congratulations. I like how they pump you up before they put you down.

26

Random Lurker 08.03.11 at 6:32 pm

Congratulations.

27

John Quiggin 08.03.11 at 6:52 pm

@hartal Actually, if you read the piece a little more carefully, you’ll see that I’m attacked for even discussing the idea that Marxism might have some merits. More to the point, the reaction of some orthodox Marxists to my suggestion that there are problems with LTV etc was very similar, to what I just got from the Murdoch press. Shooting the messenger is a widespread phenomenon.

28

nic 08.03.11 at 6:56 pm

29

johne 08.03.11 at 7:13 pm

“Fact free”? Why, then, hasn’t professor Quiggin yet seen fit to reply to the reference to his “coffee-sharpened mind”? What amounts to a direct accusation of drug dependence tells us as much about the depth of the reporter’s investigation, as the professor’s silence does to suggest that it may even be true.

Congratulations, Professor Quiggin.

30

John Quiggin 08.03.11 at 7:39 pm

@sg I’ve had the mis-spelling problem all my life. I used to think it was only when I said my name. That’s easy to understand – on the one hand, it doesn’t seem tricky, so people don’t take care as they would with Eszter’s name, but on the other hand there’s that unstressed vowel.

But I’ve since discovered, as the blog examples show, that people mis-spell my name even when it’s printed in front of them. It would be an interesting little study in the way in which people read and write to understand phenomena like this.

31

charles H Pooter 08.03.11 at 8:05 pm

On climate change, Murdoch has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt. The Australian supports putting a price on carbon over Tony Abbott’s direct action.

Despite the rant, I rather liked the implicit concession here that Murdoch’s papers do indeed do Murdoch’s bidding, even if the WSJ is only prepared to acknowledge this when the Dirty Digger is apparently doing something noble.

32

Colin Danby 08.03.11 at 9:18 pm

Looks like the guy was assigned a hit but his heart wasn’t in it — weirdly querulous and defensive, and in places barely readable. Is writing in Teh Australian really that bad?

Anyway, next time they want a hit piece they can mine the CT comments.

33

John Quiggin 08.03.11 at 9:23 pm

As I said in my response, he was phoning it in. We’ve been reasonably friendly, if ideologically opposed, for a long time, and my (disputed and possibly faulty) recollection is that he opened our conversation by saying that he’d been asked to write the piece.

34

Watson Ladd 08.03.11 at 9:31 pm

Congratulations on being a target for Murdoch! But it seems that this might be much more motivated by what you’ve said about the phone scandal then anything else. Is editorial independence such a dead letter these days?

35

hartal 08.03.11 at 9:50 pm

So Quiggin thinks the orthodox Marxists hidden in the comments section at CT are just like Rupert Murdoch’s minions bugging phones, lying about WMD, and scapegoating illegal immigrants. Of course no one even tried to make an empirical or logical argument for the law of value. Anwar Shaikh, Meghnad Desai, Rick Wolff and Duncan Foley are just low-level ideologues. I know that no one is listening to your policy advice, but is this all you can do try to re-gain respectability among the Really Serious People and keep the good favor of the Murdoch paper that has been featuring your opinions?

36

spyder 08.03.11 at 10:19 pm

The support for you has been strong in Australia: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/08/kudos_to_john_quiggin.php

37

John Quiggin 08.03.11 at 10:20 pm

@WatsonLadd Not really the phone scandal – I’ve mainly been critical of the misuse of Murdoch’s media power to extract political favors and for dishonest campaigns on issue like climate change

38

Colin Danby 08.03.11 at 10:34 pm

Oh hartal, try to be less predictable. (a) the piece JQ links at #33 is hardly the output of someone currying favor with News Corp, and (b) if one *did* want to impress News Corp, I doubt that dissing the LTOV on CT would do it.

39

bh 08.03.11 at 11:30 pm

Hartal, you’re clearly knowledgable about Marx, but do you have to do this to every thread? How many more posts before you settle down and admit you went over-the-top? Maybe a half-dozen or so?

You’re really not winning any friends for your beliefs, to put it mildly. I suppose you could start a blog called The Excitable Marxist or something.

40

DaveL 08.03.11 at 11:42 pm

JQ @27: “my suggestion that there are problems with LTV

Do you have a link that that “suggestion”? Thanks.

41

John Quiggin 08.04.11 at 12:41 am

42

melior 08.04.11 at 1:48 am

On climate change, Murdoch has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt.

I’m in the US, which may be why this is the first time I’ve heard this particularly amusing denialist catchphrase. I can imagine it catching on across the globe though…
“On the issue of further construction expenditures to better prepare nuclear reactors against future earthquake and tsunami damage, TEPCO has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt.”
“On the issue of shoring up New Orleans levies before another Cat 5 hurricane, the GOP has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt.”
“On the issue of expensive remediation efforts for the millions of barrels of oil spilled into the Yosemite river and the Gulf of Mexico, the oil industry has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt.”

43

hartal 08.04.11 at 2:33 am

Look guys. I said Quiggin’s book is brilliant. I was just trying to make sense of why the hit job was rather restrained. I was only being cheeky when I said that maybe the reviewer wasn’t as awed by the brilliant stuff that he probably hadn’t read (I was making fun of a Murdoch employee) but was rather admiring that Quiggin can take cheap shots against Marxism with the best of them. I call the guy brilliant, he responds by comparing me to Fox News ideologues. Jeez.

44

sg 08.04.11 at 5:48 am

Prof. Kwiggin, I think the name issue might be something to do with people who disagree with you and having a subconscious desire to belittle you – ’cause you’re a professor etc. But I’m not sure, because I’ve seen it done by people who agree with you too. It’s just really noticeable because, well, a) it doesn’t happen to anyone else on CT or Larvatus Prodeo or deltoid, b) on my blog nobody fucks up my screen name (“faustusnotes,” ffs, you’d think someone could) and c) a lot of the people at your own blog and LP who disagree with you are really sanctimonious twats, to whom deliberately misspelling your name probably seems like a really clever and adult put-down.

Don’t you have a grad student you can get to scour the comment threads of everywhere you have ever posted, and analyze this crucially important phenomenon?

45

James Wimberley 08.04.11 at 3:09 pm

Ad 9, 30
Distinguo.
Quiggan: double-agent action hero of IRA-based thriller.
Quiggen: knockoff home budgeting software.
Quiggon: alien race in Douglas Adams comic sci-fi novel.

I sympathise with John. I get mis-spelled in comments on a blog post with my name at the top.

46

Seth 08.04.11 at 6:43 pm

Congratulations, Professor Quiggin.

Have you been inducted into the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill?

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