New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman takes the media to the woodshed:
I see that the Washington Post editorial board is shocked, shocked to discover that the incoming Republicans aren't serious about deficit reduction. Who could have suspected?
I was going to be snarky all the way here, but actually let's be serious: the gullibility of much of the media establishment on all this amounts to journalistic malpractice.
Republicans have, after all, been the party of fiscal irresponsibility since 1980; the GW Bush administration confirmed, if anyone was in doubt, that unfunded tax cuts are now in the party's DNA.
Why the blindness? I suspect a lot of it had to do with the desire to seem balanced. Journalists felt that they had to find Republican fiscal heroes, just to show how even-handed and open-minded they were. To say that the whole deficit thing was a political ploy, with no substance behind it, sounded shrill.
The truth often does.
Another problem, of course, is that many reporters simply believe conservatives who claim to care about deficits without assessing whether their policy positions are consistent with those claims. It's easier and fits into absurd -- and, as Krugman notes, false -- stereotypes.
Krugman makes another point worth highlighting in desperate hope that his fellow journalists start paying attention:
Then along comes a Democratic president who presides over all of two years of deficits in the immediate aftermath of a severe financial crisis – which is a time when you're actually supposed to run deficits. Republicans begin inveighing against the evils of red ink – and, incredibly, get taken at face value.