For those looking for me on cable news…
You’ll see less of me on MSNBC as, after a bunch of years, they decided not to renew my contract. Not sure why (feel free to complain to them!), but change happens, and I’m still a CNBC contributor, so you can see my talking head over there.
I’ll miss mixing it with some great folks over at MS, and to those who enjoyed hearing my analysis, fear not. I’ve various other print venues, including this blog, of course, and the WaPo column.
I will say this: I’ve been doing TV economic commentary for literally decades. I started on CNBC when it was a closet over at the WSJ’s offices. I recall hits back then when I brought my toddlers along, who crawled over and pulled at my pants leg to see a picture they just drew while I was on air, much to the camera person’s glee. I used to go out to “pebble beach” in front of the White House during my tenure there and explain counterfactuals to people, as in: “sure, the unemployment rate is up, but were it not for the Recovery Act, it’d be a lot higher!”—you can imagine how that went down.
I’ve always found this part of my work really challenging. People tell me I do a decent job of breaking down complicated stuff, but I can hardly recall a segment where I didn’t think afterwards, “Damn, why didn’t I make that other point?” or “why didn’t I say that this way instead of that way?”
But does this sort of TV play a useful role?
I don’t really have the wherewithal to answer that. I’m well aware of the problem that much of what goes on in media today, including, of course, social media, greatly amplifies the stark partisanship of our age. And if there were a fine for BS’ing about policy outcomes, there’d be a lot of broke pundits out there.
But a good, meaty segment on the nuts and bolts of, for example, how the tax cut exacerbates inequality, or a non-hostile, fact-driven debate about the size and role of government, or the opportunity to correct falsehoods, say about phony “dynamic scores” of growth effects—all of these seem to me be to useful bits of information. Cumulatively, I believe they’re a positive for democracy.
So, I’ll continue to post on such issues every chance I get in all the usual places, but less so on MSNBC. Again, I can’t explain their decision, so don’t ask me. I certainly built up a fine track record over there over the years, I’m proud of my contributions, and I invariably got (mostly) positive responses to my appearances by my fan base, all nine of them (including family members…).