Paul Krugman writes:
[T]he public editor says, rightly, that I should acknowledge initially misstating the results of the 2000 Florida election study by a media consortium led by The Miami Herald. Unlike a more definitive study by a larger consortium that included The New York Times, an analysis that showed Al Gore winning all statewide manual recounts, the earlier study showed him winning two out of three.
No, no, no, no, NO!!!
I’m going to say this again, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.
Here is what Krugman said in his earlier column, which he is now supposedly correcting:
About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of “undervotes,” which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore.
Okay, stop. Isn’t Krugman saying the same exact thing he said in his correction? Paul Krugman initially said “Gore won two out of three” — and corrected that statement today to “Gore won two out of three.” Call me crazy, but this appears to be the same exact claim.
I’m really starting to wonder whether Paul Krugman is looking at a different 2001 study of undervotes by a consortium including the Miami Herald than I am. Every time I look at my link to the USA Today article on the study, it says Bush won 3 out of 4 times. Let me quote it again, just to make sure I’m not hallucinating:
The newspapers then applied the accounting firm’s findings to four standards [yup, four, not three — hear that, Paul?] used in Florida and elsewhere to determine when an undervote ballot becomes a legal vote. By three of the standards, Bush holds the lead. The fourth standard gives Gore a razor-thin win.
Let me translate that for you, Paul. When it says that four standards were applied, and Bush held the lead in three, I think that means Bush won three of four. I mean, I’m not the New York Times columnist; you are. But that’s pretty much how it reads to this humble blogger.
Krugman, you’re killing me. You’re just killing me.
And I haven’t even gotten to the fact that the fourth standard — you know, the only one in which Gore won — was unreliable:
The USA TODAY[/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder] study shows that Gore would have won Florida by 3 votes if this [fourth] standard were applied to undervotes. Because of the possibility of mistakes in the study, a three-vote margin is too small to conclude that Gore might have prevailed in an official count using this standard.
In other words, the only scenario in which one might conclude that Gore won the undervote recount — is unreliable.
Someone help me. I’m just utterly flummoxed. Is a New York Times columnist just repeatedly lying to his readers about an easily checkable fact, even after getting called on it by his public editor? Or is this guy living in a parallel universe where what he is saying is true? Please, someone help me. What is going on here?
Until I get a better explanation, I’m filing this under “Scum.” Rest assured that I have written an appropriately angry e-mail, directed to the public editor and Krugman both.
UPDATE AND BUMP: Don Luskin is equally confused.
The link to Luskin comes via Michelle Malkin, who generously quotes my post above (thanks Michelle!), and suggests that Krugman’s reference to a Miami Herald study may have been to this study, which also included overvotes.
Luckily, Michelle saves me a second rant by noting that Krugman’s claims would still be incorrect. The study including overvotes also set forth four different scenarios — not three — based upon varying standards applied to punch-card ballots. And it concluded that Bush would have won two of those, not one — and the scenarios favoring Bush were the most likely ones:
Among four possible standards for judging whether punch-card votes are valid, the study shows that Bush would have won under the two that are in widest use across the country . . .”
We’ve got some of the best minds in the blogosphere trying to help one of the mediocre ones (me) figure out just what in the hell Paul Krugman is talking about. So far, no luck. Can anyone else shoot us a clue? The New York Times public editor hasn’t bothered to respond to me.
Absent some lightning bolt from the sky, it continues to appear obvious to me that Krugman still owes his readers a correction of his false statements about the Miami Herald study of undervotes.
UPDATE x2: Tom Maguire tries to answer my questions — but all he really does is confuse me further.
UPDATE x3 8-28-05: Maguire keeps revising his post, and he now seems to have come up with a way to defend Krugman. My reaction is that, if this is Krugman’s explanation, it is more in line with what I’m used to from Krugman: pure dishonesty, but of the slippery kind — not as blatant and black-and-white as that described above. That makes me think Maguire may be on to something. I’m working on a new post with my reactions.