This is a fairly minor development amid all the turmoil that’s gripped the country over the past week, but I would like to pause for a brief moment to commemorate the act of journalistic malpractice CNN has just committed by hiring conservative scribbler and Trump adviser Stephen Moore as an economics analyst. It is a doozy.
Moore’s lifelong work has mostly consisted of preaching the gospel of tax cuts, and occasionally fossil fuels. He founded the conservative Club for Growth in the late 1990s, joined the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and at one point became the Heritage Foundation’s chief economist, despite lacking an economics Ph.D. (he has a master’s). What the man lacks in actual academic training he makes up for in movement credentials.
In economics circles, Moore is looked at as a sort of tragicomic figure, the supply-side gang leader who can’t count straight. In 2014, the Kansas City Star announced that it would no longer run his op-ed pieces after it had to print a detailed correction on an article in which he incorrectly wrote that no-income-tax Texas had added 1 million jobs over the previous five years while high-tax California had lost jobs. He argued for years that Obamacare was leading to a rise in part-time work, an idea that’s been debunked. He once managed to write an entire column about the Affordable Care Act that, as Jonathan Chait pointed out, didn’t include a single true claim (though in fairness, most of the problems were issues of logic rather than outright factual inaccuracies). He likes to peddle the idea that if the U.S. just opened up all of its federal lands to fracking, it could be oil- and gas-independent within a decade, which is a fairly obtuse reading of how fossil fuel markets actually work. He doesn’t think that climate change is settled science, which admittedly places him pretty much in the conservative mainstream, and says things like, “the climate change industry wants to shut down capitalism.”
When politicians do make the error of listening to Moore, the results can be disastrous. For instance, he was one of the advisers behind Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s fiscally ruinous tax-cuts, a notorious debacle that even conservative wonks at the Tax Foundation thought was ill-advised.
Before Trump was the Republican nominee, Moore and CNBC talking head Larry Kudlow wrote an op-ed excoriating Trump’s stance on trade protectionism and immigration. But later on, the pair got called in to doctor up Trump’s mess of a tax-cut plan, at which point Moore seems to have become a convert. In November, he told a room full of Hill Republicans that they were no longer in the party of Reagan, but in the party of Trump.
CNN has a habit of veering wildly from serious journalism from its Washington bureau or its online KFile investigative team to vomit-worthy infotainment in which toadies like Jeffrey Lord or—previously—Corey Lewandowski defend whatever the heck Donald Trump has just said.* (The network has a lot of airtime to fill, and it fills it with mostly useless discussion panels.) You can guess which side the pendulum just swung to with Moore’s hire.
*Correction, Jan. 31, 2017: This post originally misspelled Corey Lewandowski’s first name.