Paul Krugman vs. Jon Stewart. The New York Times columnist and economist put his utter lack of humor on display in a Saturday afternoon blog post in which he attacked as lazy and unprofessional the host of the Daily Show. Stewart's sin? Daring to mock the trillion-dollar platinum coin as a solution to the debt ceiling crisis. Here's Krugman on "Lazy Jon Stewart":
Oh, dear. Jon Stewart took on the platinum coin, and made a hash of it -- he faceplanted, as Ryan Cooper says. What went wrong? Jon Chait says that he flunked econ, but that’s just part of it. He also flunked law, politics, and just plain professional....Above all, however, what went wrong here is a lack of professionalism on the part of Stewart and his staff....In this case, however, it’s obvious that nobody at TDS spent even a few minutes researching the topic. It was just yuk-yuk-yuk they’re talking about a trillion-dollar con hahaha. Hey, if we want this kind of intellectual laziness, we can just tune in to Fox."
Krugman followed up with a special Web commentary for ABC's This Week Sunday morning talk show. ABC's Kaye Foley captured Krugman's huffiness over Stewart's comedy bit.
“Obviously neither he nor his staff did even five minutes of looking at the financial blogs. Lots of people think it’s a bad idea. Lots of people think it’s a good idea. But it’s not just, ‘Oh, those idiots.’
“Part of the point about Stewart…is that he’s funny, but that the show is actually better informed than most of our public discussion. The idea is that the show should be like an especially good episode of the roundtable on ‘This Week’, but in the form of jokes. But when he just turns it into dumb, 'I don’t know nothing, but those people look dumb to me,' he’s ruining his own brand.”
Stewart responded on Monday night's episode, hinting that it wasn't, ahem, his brand being hurt by talking about a trillion-dollar coin (watch the clip at Times Watch).
Stewart: "...If anybody is ruining their brand, with a trillion-dollar coin idea, I don't think it's the non-economist. Look. As with most bits we do, whether of the fully fleshed-out or more drive-by variety, there are always various counter-arguments and nuances of language and thought which can be cited as evidence of this show's inherent unfairness or ignorance. Typically a bluntness people forgive when in agreement with our point of view. So I stand by our research on the topic, the due diligence, and my ignorant inclusion that a trillion-dollar coin minted to allow the president to circumvent the debt ceiling, however arbitrary that may be, is a stupid [bleep] idea! I say 'Good Day!'" And I'm a fan of Paul Krugman, so, all right."