08.20.12

Media Reactions to Newsweek’s Niall Ferguson-Obama Cover Story

In ‘Obama’s Gotta Go,’ Newsweek’s Niall Ferguson argues that the president broke his campaign promises to America. From Paul Krugman to James Fallows and Andrew Sullivan, we round up the best responses across the Internet.

Niall Ferguson’s argument in this week’s Newsweek cover story, that Barack Obama broke his campaign promises to the American electorate, quickly generated passionate responses across the web. The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon rounded up the best—and even the most blistering and critical.

CHQ Poll: Newsweek Cover Slamming Obama Just Good Marketing Conservative HQ

Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ polled its readers on whether Ferguson’s cover story is an example of “media Democrats starting to distance themselves from a sinking ship or just good marketing.” 44 percent of respondents said “it’s just a circulation-generating cover, nothing more. Dollars rule.” 33 percent said the cover signifies that “liberals feel either betrayed or disappointed by Obama, and are fleeing the sinking the ship.” 16 percent found no significance in the cover at all, while 10 percent said it’s “retribution from a Hillaryite. Hillary was her first cover when [editor-in-chief Tina] Brown took over, and featured her before, too.”

As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize
James Fallows, The Atlantic

An alumnus of Harvard University, where Ferguson is a professor, Fallows writes that Ferguson’s story “is so careless and unconvincing that I wonder how he will presume to sit in judgment of the next set of student papers he has to grade.” Fallows takes particular aim at Ferguson’s criticism of Obama’s economics performance based on the number of private-sector jobs the year before the president took office—before his stimulus effort took effect—among other points.

Fisking Ferguson I
Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast

A self-described “old and good friend” of Ferguson’s, Sullivan writes that Ferguson “massively—and rather self-evidently—distorts” the Obama administration’s record. He cries “intellectual foul” over Ferguson’s use of unemployment statistics and jobs numbers to indict Obama. Sullivan promises that Ferguson’s “piece is sadly so ridden with errors and elisions and non-sequiturs it will require a few more posts” to dissect.

On Niall Ferguson
Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast

Tomasky recently penned a Newsweek cover story titled “Mitt Romney’s Wimp Factor,” which also elicited passionate reactions, though not on the scale of those to Ferguson. Tomasky praises Newsweek for running cover stories from both sides of the aisle, saying, “there’s something fun and vibrant about a publication wherein the principal voices have at one another.” Still, he cautions, “the attacks ought to be factual.”

Unethical Commentary, Newsweek Edition
Paul Krugman, The New York Times

Krugman accuses Ferguson of misleading readers with his assertion that the Congressional Budget Office found that the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit. "[Ferguson] is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true," he writes, demanding a correction from Newsweek. In a post for The Daily Beast, Ferguson responded with facts to support his claims.

More Lies From Niall Ferguson: Fire-His-Ass-Now Department

Brad DeLong, delong.typepad.com

DeLong also takes issue with Ferguson’s passage, arguing that the “insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012-22 period,” despite President Obama’s pledge that health-care reform would not increase the deficit. Accusing Ferguson of lying, DeLong writes, “Fire his ass from Newsweek, and the Daily Beast…There is a limit, somewhere. And Ferguson has gone beyond it.”

Newsweek’s Cover: Change?
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Morrissey praises the breadth and bite of Ferguson’s piece, saying he “gives a comprehensive look at Obama’s failures and compares them directly to the strengths and experience of Romney and Ryan.” He also gives credit to Newsweek for publishing such an article just three weeks after its incendiary piece on Mitt Romney.

Barack Obama Has Failed. Now What?
James Poulos, Forbes

“Ferguson’s brief against the president stings because it throws down the gauntlet,” Poulos writes. “The case for voting out Obama is that Obama hasn’t succeeded.” Poulos agrees with Ferguson that Obama’s failures should prove a boon to the GOP ticket, provided Romney and Ryan take advantage of it properly. “Team Romney must shed every bit of extraneous thought in favor of a single idea: convince America that Republican leadership is acceptable,” Poulos writes. “Not proclaim or explain to America. Convince.”

Niall Ferguson Publishes Embarrassing Defense of Newsweek Article
Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider

It’s Ferguson’s rebuttal to Krugman’s critiques that Weisenthal takes issue with. “So Ferguson’s response was: Well, the spending/insurance portion of the Affordable Care Act did increase the deficit, and I was only referring to the spending side. I wasn’t referring to the whole thing.” Taken as a whole, however, the CBO report, contrary to Ferguson’s claims, clearly says that the ACA did not add to the deficit, Weisenthal writes.

Niall Ferguson’s Ridiculous Defense
Dylan Byers, Politico

Byers also isn’t buying Ferguson’s defense of his Affordable Care Act argument. The Politico writer accuses Ferguson of editing the CBO report to support his conclusions, particularly the section that states “it is unclear” whether the reduction of Medicare spending will be achieved. “The Oxford-trained, Harvard-employed, Newsweek contributor Niall Ferguson just edited the CBO report to change its meaning,” Byers writes. “With all due lack of respect: What are you thinking?”

Obama’s MSM Shield Starts to Crumble
Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

Ferguson paints a “devastating picture of Obama’s track record,” says Lifson. Ferguson also effectively and correctly portrays Obama as a “failure” and a “loser” for his inability to live up to his campaign promises, Lifson writes. Once those labels are attached to the president, it will become harder to get Democrats to rally around him, he says. “Enthusiasm is difficult to manufacture when the stink of failure is wafting through the air.”

Niall Ferguson’s Absurd Critique of the Obama Administration in One Chart

Matthew Yglesias, Slate

Yglesias addresses Ferguson’s prediction, which is accompanied by a graph, that China’s GDP will surpass America’s in 2017. “Ferguson is implicitly making two points in this graphic and it’s difficult to know which of them is more absurd—the idea that Obama is responsible for rapid economic growth in China or the idea that if he were responsible that would be blameworthy,” he writes.

A Full Fact-Check of Niall Ferguson’s Very Bad Argument Against Obama
Matthew O’Brien, The Atlantic

“Ferguson delves into a fantasy world of incorrect and tendentious facts,” O’Brien writes. He picks apart several of Ferguson’s factual claims, deciphering the sources and analyzing their credibility.

Niall, the British Empire Is Over. Accept It.++
Noah Smith, Noahopinion

“There is really only one writer who makes me mad,” writes Smith, “and that is British historian Niall Ferguson.” Smith criticizes what he sees as the hypocrisy of Ferguson’s argument that Obama has not come through on building infrastructure when Paul Ryan, “the man about whom Ferguson says many glowing things (almost ignoring Romney), has proposed to cut infrastructure spending fairly dramatically.” Ferguson’s attacks on Obama’s foreign policy record “veers into absurdism that would make Monty Python proud,” Smith writes.

Niall Ferguson Trolls Everyone in Newsweek
Alex Pareene, Salon

Pareene acknowledges the “tons of very legitimate and compelling argument against the Obama presidency,” but laments that Ferguson “based his article on a bunch of crap he made up.” The Salon writer echoes the critiques of Ferguson’s arguments about private-sector jobs and the Affordable Care Act. In particular, he blasts Ferguson for posting a truncated quote from the OCB report to “misrepresent its original meaning” in his rebuttal to Krugman’s attacks.

Op-Ed: Obama Has to Go
Gar Swaffar, Digital Journal

The Obama administration’s biggest problems, as outlined by Ferguson, “do seem far beyond the capability of the current Regime to understand, let alone figure out a solution,” Swaffar writes. The most damning and convincing argument against Obama, he says, is Ferguson’s description of a “50/50 nation” in which half of the population receives benefits from the government in some form while the other half pays for those benefits.

Where Political Journalism Must Not Go
Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog

Ferguson’s cover story “represents political journalism at its most atrocious,” Benen writes. The Newsweek writer’s justification for arguing that the ACA increases the deficit is a “joke,” Benen says, and many more of his claims are “transparent errors of fact.”

Niall Ferguson Finally Renders Me Speechless
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

Ferguson’s claim that the CBO found that the ACA increases the deficit is patently false, Drum argues, ridiculing Ferguson’s attempt to justify it in his response to Krugman. “Ferguson is like some clever middle schooler who thinks he’s made a terrifically shrewd point by inserting ‘insurance coverage provision’ in his sentence so that he can later argue that it’s technically correct if anyone calls him on it,” Drum writes. “You can almost hear the adolescent tittering in the background.”