Hey, White House press corps, this is not a f’ing joke. You can almost hear an incensed Paul Krugman screaming that sentiment between his more demurely communicated lines. What Krugman actually wrote is this:
“Reporters laughed — and should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. For it really wasn’t a joke. America is now governed by a president and party that fundamentally don’t accept the idea that there are objective facts. Instead, they want everyone to accept that reality is whatever they say it is.” (emphasis ours)
Krugman, like many Americans, sounds terrified that a coziness might develop between the beleaguered press and and its chief abuser, the Trump administration. So when Press Secretary Sean Spicer audaciously declares that job figures “may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now” and the press chuckles, it’s a nightmare for the vigilant like Krugman, who strive to hold the administration accountable. This, the columnist and Nobel Prize Laureate warns, is no laughing matter — and an easygoing, jocular conversation about it devalues democracy. With his condemnation of the laughter, Krugman implores the media not to be lulled into comfort by an administration that prizes “alternative facts.” Krugman describes how the irresponsible characterizing as “fake news” any information that contradicts the administration’s goals is a strategy that can only be defeated by unstinting vigilance — and though the unrelenting pursuit of “real news” despite attempts to subjugate it. Krugman’s heart sinks when he hears reporters laugh at a lie told with wink-wink insouciance. Because it’s the media’s job to ensure that ultimately the truth will out. And they can’t do it laughing.