After much anticipation and excellent “For your consideration” campaigns by Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee, President Donald Trump announced the winners of his Fake News Awards on January 17th. And #1 on the list of journalists was Paul Krugman. But who is Krugman, and why did Trump single him out?
Krugman is a writer for the New York Times. According to his bio on the Times, he is an op-ed columnist who writes about macroeconomics, trade, health care, social policy, and politics. He has written for the Times since 1999.
But Krugman isn’t just a journalist. He is an economist who holds a PhD from MIT and is a professor emeritus at Princeton. He won the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 2008 for his research on trade.
Okay, so what did Krugman say about Trump?
The reason Krugman was selected as a Fake News Awards winner was his prediction that the economy would tank under Trump’s presidency. The list of the awards on the Republican National Committee’s website declared that Krugman “claimed on the day of Trump’s historic, landslide victory, that the economy would never recover.”
Putting aside the fact that Trump’s victory was not a landslide by any means, the claim is true. Krugman did indeed predict that the stock market would crash after Trump was elected. In an op-ed, he wrote that “we are probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight” due to Trump’s lack of economic knowledge and the delicate state of the economy post-2008.
Krugman’s prediction was wrong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2007, and CNBC reports the stock market is rapidly rising. It cannot be said, however, that Krugman was spreading “fake news.” Predictions are basically just educated guesses, and making a wrong prediction is not a crime.
Given Trump’s notoriously thin skin when it comes to any kind of criticism, it’s apparent that the Fake News Awards are about defending Trump’s ego rather than defending the truth. Trump constantly tries to undermine the press with cries of “fake news” and by making jokes about violence, and this is a danger to free speech. Avoiding actual fake news is important, but the best way to do this is by checking an article’s sources. Stay diligent out there!