CNN's 'New Day' Gives Paul Krugman Free Time to Bash GOP on Coronavirus, Tax Cuts

March 3rd, 2020 3:27 PM

On Monday's New Day show, CNN gave an unchallenged forum to liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to trash the Trump administration and other Republicans over issues like tax cuts and the Coronavirus issue, the latter of which he likened to President George W. Bush's handling of the WMD issue before the Iraq War.

He also asserted that climate change skeptics and supporters of tax cuts are being dishonest, and continue to push "zombie" ideas because of entities like Fox News and the funding of billionaires.

After the segment began with a discussion of the possible economic consequences of a Coronavirus epidemic, at 8:32 a.m. Eastern, co-host John Berman set the ball on the tee for his left-wing guest: "One of the things you've written in the last few weeks is that you think, for President Trump, you've been using 'This could be his Katrina,' but then you suggest that 'Maybe it's not his Katrina, it's his WMD -- weapons of mass destruction.' What do you mean?"

After Krugman claimed, citing the New York Times and the Washington Post, that Trump administration members had been discouraged from telling the truth about how bad a Coronavirus epidemic could get, Berman then pivoted to discussing Krugman's new book, titled Arguing With Zombies. Again, Berman placed a ball on the tee. "All right, the book is titled Arguing with Zombies. What's a 'zombie'?"

Krugman claimed that Republicans promote provably false beliefs as he explained:

KRUGMAN: A zombie idea is an idea that should be killed by evidence -- that should have been dead long ago, but just keeps shambling along, eating people's brains. So it's things like "Tax cuts pay for themselves," or "Climate change is a hoax." And the theme of our book --the theme of Arguing with Zombies is that an awful lot of our political discussion is not between rival ideas, each of which can be defended but between some fairly sensible idea and a zombie idea on the other side.

On his perfect streak of infomercial questions, Berman followed up: "You say we need to be honest about our dishonesty. You suggest that there aren't necessarily. You think there are people arguing in bad faith. It's not just that they're wrong, you say -- it's that they have bad faith."

Krugman accused Republicans in government of dishonesty as he answered:

KRUGMAN: Yeah, there are plenty of places where you can have legitimate disagreements. There are -- some of the fields I work in actually there's a lot of conservative economists that are good economists, and are honest. None of those people are working in the Trump administration. None of those people are advising the Republicans in Congress. These zombie ideas are kept alive by essentially hired guns.

They're kept alive by think tanks financed by right-wing billionaires. They're kept alive by Fox News. ... If I write that we're having a serious discussion, I'm actually lying to my readers. The truth is, on most of the important issues, we're not having an honest discussion. One side of the discussion is deliberately saying things they have to know are not true.

Host Berman concluded by gushing that his guest's book was a "good read" with no pushback on Krugman's claims.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, March 2, New Day show on CNN:

8:32 a.m. Eastern

JOHN BERMAN: One of the things you've written in the last few weeks is that you think, for President Trump, you've been using "This could be his Katrina," but then you suggest that "Maybe it's not his Katrina, it's his WMD -- weapons of mass destruction." What do you mean?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Okay, we're starting to get, you know, the insider reporting from the Post and the Times of what went on in the last few weeks. It's very clear that Trump and the people around him made it clear to everyone else in the government that they did not want to hear that this was going to be bad. And basically people were punished for suggesting that it might be bad. And it was very similar in psychology to the buildup to what happened in the Iraq War when it was clear they wanted to be told there were weapons of mass destruction. So it's the same distortion of, you know -- it takes great effort for a President of the United States to get told things he doesn't want to hear. He has to make it clear that he wants to be told things he doesn't want to hear. This is not that kind of President.