IN HIS New York Times column yesterday, Paul Krugman did something that he made clear he regarded as quite brave: He defended the Democratic Party presidential nominee and likely next U.S. president from journalistic investigations. Complaining about media bias, Krugman claimed that journalists are driven by “the presumption that anything Hillary Clinton does must be corrupt, most spectacularly illustrated by the increasingly bizarre coverage of the Clinton Foundation.” While generously acknowledging that it was legitimate to take a look at the billions of dollars raised by the Clintons as Hillary pursued increasing levels of political power — vast sums often received from the very parties most vested in her decisions as a public official — it is now “very clear,” he proclaimed, that there was absolutely nothing improper about any of what she or her husband did.
Krugman’s column, chiding the media for its unfairly negative coverage of his beloved candidate, was, predictably, a big hit among Democrats — not just because of their agreement with its content but because of what they regarded as the remarkable courage required to publicly defend someone as marginalized and besieged as the former first lady, two-term New York senator, secretary of state, and current establishment-backed multimillionaire presidential front-runner. Krugman — in a tweet proclamation that has now been re-tweeted more than 10,000 times — heralded himself this way: “I was reluctant to write today’s column because I knew journos would hate it. But it felt like a moral duty.”
As my colleague Zaid Jilani remarked: “I can imagine Paul Krugman standing in front of the mirror saying, ‘This is *your Tahrir Square* big guy.’” Nate Silver, early yesterday morning, even suggested that Krugman’s Clinton-defending column was so edgy and threatening that the New York Times — which published the column — was effectively suppressing Krugman’s brave stance by refusing to promote it on Twitter (the NYT tweeted Krugman’s column a few hours later, early in the afternoon). Thankfully, it appears that Krugman — at least thus far — has suffered no governmental recriminations or legal threats, nor any career penalties, for his intrepid, highly risky defense of Hillary Clinton.