Ashton Kutscher, do you really think Phil Gramm drives a Porsche? Or is someone getting punked?
For sure, someone has been having fun at Zero Hedge this weekend, masquerading as Phil Gramm, former Republican Senator from Texas and economic advisor to presidential candidate John McCain.
Zero Hedge posted a withering appraisal of the cash-for-clunkers program by Bruce Krasting, a former investment banker with a blog featuring a real bio and a real photo of himself (or at least that’s what it appears to be).
In response, one mischievous commenter channeled his inner Phil Gramm pretending to support the program on both a personal level (traded in my Porsche for a Ford because wife Wendy wanted more room for the grandkids) and an economic level (it’s a thumbs up). The post includes all kinds of inside baseball: The writer notes that trading in his sports car for a more practical one made Gramm feel like a Democrat — which Gramm once was. It also says that the program is good for alleviating the “mental recession” infecting the nation. When he served as economic advisor to McCain, Gramm defended the Republican economic platform by calling complainers “a nation of whiners” who suffered from a “mental recession.”
The post raises deeper questions about the Internet and the news: Zero Hedge is wildly popular, even though no one knows who he and his cohorts are. Anonymity is the hallmark of the financial blog which draws high-profile readers and is quoted widely in the more established press. Yet anonymity is clearly a weak point for news: Credibility is constantly at stake. For years, insiders have debated the reduced value of sources who don’t want to be identified. What about news sites with anonymous “news writers?” In some ways, the hijacked Phil Gramm identity is the next logical step in the game: from no identity to assumed.
The comment is funny; but as we work our way through the revolution in news gathering and commenting, we need to widen the debate to consider the responsibility editors and writers have to readers in managing content from all angles.
Here’s the comment in full. Your thoughts?
on Sun, 08/09/2009 – 23:31
I just traded in my 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/CarsResult1.jsp?column=1&id=16486) for a Ford Flex by using the CARS program.
Wendy said that we needed more room to haul around the grandkids. I have to say, as an everyday US Consumer, it feels good to get that rebate. It almost makes me feel like a Democrat. In fact, without the CARS program, there is no way I would have traded in my Porsche 911 for a Ford Flex!
I like the Flex because it’s big and stylish. However, it’s union made and also made in Ontario so it’s not a perfect vehicle. Those damn Canadians are nothing but leaches off our economy. The also practice socialist medicine, so if any killer diseases are to come into being, Canada is a likely place for its origin.
As an economist, what do I think about the CARS program? I think it’s a program for whiners. Even so, it seems to be helping cure our mental recession, so I am for it.