I take it back. Kurtz didn’t leaven his nastiness with reporting, but merely with borrowing. Nicholas Confessore had the tidbit about Raines forbidding Krugman to say “lying” in this Washington Monthly piece.
That same piece turns out to contain the following gem from Mickey himself: “The Bush tax cut is based on lies. But it’s not enough to criticize a policy to say that it’s based on lies. You have to say whether it’s good or bad for the country.” Now Kaus has a point: a policy that is defended dishonestly can still be good policy on balance. Even so, it’s a bad idea for our leaders to lie to us, and a shame to us that we allow ourselves to be lied to and ruled by liars. Therefore, it’s a good thing to have journalists like Krugman prepared to call them on their lies, especially if they’re lying about our future rather than about their own pasts.
If Krugman’s critics started out by saying, “Yes, he is right to call Bush a liar, and it was a public service to do so, and Bush should start telling the truth and the rest of the press should start doing its job, but now that we all have the message, can’t Krugman tone it down a little?” I’d say they had a point. But if they were saying that and the rest of the media was doing its job, I bet Krugman would tone it down a little.