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Niall Ferguson has written an inflammatory and very misleading cover article in Newsweek titled, "Obama's Gotta Go", that has some liberal economists up in arms.  He deliberately misleads his readers by carefully choosing words to leave false impressions.

Here is a portion that has some economists riled up.

The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
This is in addition to Hopefruit2's diary from last night Newsweek needs to be put out of business.

More below the fold.

First, Paul Krugman responded to the article with this statement.

Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.

Ferguson shot back with this:

Paul Krugman Is Wrong: In my piece I say:

The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period...

I very deliberately said “the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA,” not “the ACA.” There is a big difference.

Of course most people of Newsweek who read what he actually said, would come away believing the ACA will create an additional $1.2T in deficits, which I believe is exactly what Mr. Ferguson intended.  This approach to explaining President Obama's economic policies, seems remarkably similar to the way the Romney/Ryan crew explains them.

This comment immediately set off Brad Delong, economist at the University of California at Berkeley, where he wrote this.

The "But" at the start of the second sentence in the quote tells readers two things: (i) that Obama has violated his pledge--that he promised that the ACA would not increase the deficit, but that it did--and (ii) that the rest of the second sentence will explain how Obama violated his pledge.

The rest of the second sentence Ferguson saying that Obama violated his pledge by "close to $1.2 trillion" by adding "insurance coverage provisions".

A reader who trusted Ferguson--and I hope no such readers will exist by the end of today--would tell you that Ferguson's quote says:

Obama pledged that the ACA would not increase the deficit.
Obama broke his pledge.
The ACA increased the deficit by $1.2 trillion.

And his only excuse--now, it's not an excuse for the lie, it's a "I can lie cleverly" boast--is: "I very deliberately said 'the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA', not 'the ACA'".

Fire his ass.

Fire his ass from Newsweek, and the Daily Beast.

Convene a committee at Harvard to examine whether he has the moral character to teach at a university.

There is a limit, somewhere. And Ferguson has gone beyond it.

Now comes a report from the HuffingtonPost, that Newsweek didn't even fact check the article.
UPDATE: 12:56 p.m. -- Newsweek did not fact-check Ferguson's cover story, according to Dylan Byers, a media reporter at Politico. Byers wrote on Twitter that a Newsweek spokesman said the magazine does not have a fact-checking department, and that "we, like other news organisations today, rely on our writers to submit factually accurate material."
And James Fallows at the atlantic Magazine,as reported by Politico, has gone so far as to apologize for having the same Alma Mater as Ferguson.
A tenured professor of history at my undergraduate alma mater has written a cover story for Daily Beast/Newsweek that is so careless and unconvincing that I wonder how he will presume to sit in judgment of the next set of student papers he has to grade.


To me this is not what the tradition of Veritas and the search for scholarly enlightenment is supposed to exemplify. Seriously, I wonder if one of Ferguson's students will have the panache to turn in a similar paper to see how it fares.

It is really good to see some people simply aren't going to stand for this propaganda from the right anymore!  Thanks to all above for standing up for the truth.

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