More Newspaper Foolishness

The big newspapers, and especially their opinion editors, make some funny decisions for people who are ostensibly concerned about things like factual accuracy, reputation, and bottom-lines. I have no idea why the Post continues to employ people like Bob Novak and Robert Samuelson, or why the Times keeps giving some of the most valuable print real estate in the world to Maureen Dowd. These decisions make little sense to me.

As dumb as some of those editorial choices are, they all pale next to the Times’ move to give Ben Stein regular space in its business section. This man is an incredibly poor economist and a shoddy journalist with a deep and abiding animosity for science and scientists (he stars in a pro-intelligent design film, and routinely denigrates university types in public interviews). Do read Felix Salmon’s dogged debunking of the waste-product Stein regularly heaps onto the Times (Felix does this frequently–believe me, there’s plenty to work with). Anyone who credulously reads Stein is stupider for it. Frankly, if I were one of the legitimate economists tasked with writing for the paper (Cowen or Mankiw, for instance) I’d suggest that the paper would get no more of my quality work until they axed Stein, who can only lend the smarter parts of the paper an air of incredibility.