Why Anti-Cassandras Get the Media Attention

Paul Krugman today bemoans the fact that on the housing crisis and especially on Iraq the people who get the most media attention are those who got it wrong.

It’s even worse, of course, on the matter of Iraq: just about every one of the panels convened to discuss the lessons of five disastrous years consisted solely of men and women who cheered the idiocy on.

(Brad DeLong, Dean Baker and others have made similar complaints.)  I think the fact is correct so what is going on?

The answer is media incentives.  It wasn’t just the experts who were wrong, the majority of the American people got Iraq and housing wrong.  The war was popular in the beginning and people continued to buy houses even as prices rose ever higher.  So what does the American public want to hear now?

The public wants to hear why they weren’t idiots.  And who better to explain to the public why they weren’t idiots than experts who also got it wrong?


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