Anti-Economist Bias Yes, Conservative Bias No
By Bryan Caplan
Media Matters reports that almost none of the economic “experts” pontificating on Obama’s economic plan are actually economists:
Matters purposefully used a broad definition of
“economist” to be inclusive, coding as an economist any guest who has a
master’s degree or doctorate in economics or who has served as an
economics professor at a university or college, as best as we could
determine. (All current members of Congress were coded as
On cable news channels, economists made a total of 18 guest appearances out of a
total of 399 guest
appearances in broadcasts
that included guest
Unless I am totally misreading this piece, its theme is that real experts are being overshadowed by shallow pundits. So far, so good.
But the report then strangely concludes with the claim that “As
Media Matters has documented, media coverage of
the [Obama] plan has been marred by conservative falsehoods
and misinformation.” Not only does this seem like a gratuitous aside; but if you scroll down Media Matters’ short list of bona fide economists in the news, you’ll find quite a few Obama plan critics, including Stephen Moore, Amity Shlaes, Thomas Sowell, and Arthur Laffer.
Sure, it would be great if more real economists were in the public eye. The reason we’re having a public debate on the Obama plan, though, is not that economic illiterates are drowning out a broad consensus of economists. If you needed an advanced degree in econ to get on the air, there’d still be plenty of argument.