NYT Tells us that People Without Names Accuse Republicans of Playing Politics In Lew Nomination

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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 08:04

The NYT reported on questions from Senate Republicans on the investments of Jack Lew, President Obama's nominee to be Treasury Secretary. The questions focused on whether Lew had taken advantage of tax havens in the Cayman Islands. It then told readers:

"Privately, officials involved in the confirmation process called the spate of attacks on Mr. Lew politically motivated, arguing that the Cayman Islands criticisms are a direct reprisal for attacks leveled at Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign for his offshore bank accounts."

It's not obvious why "officials involved in the confirmation process" could not make their views known on the record or why the NYT should print their views if they insist on being off the record. The article also cites Lew's assertion that he did not enjoy any tax advantage because of the investment's location in the Cayman Islands and his claim that he lost money on the investment.

While the claim that he lost money is obviously intended to imply that there was nothing improper about the investment, the piece should have pointed out to readers that this is a non-sequitur. Suppose that Lew was offered the opportunity to buy $1 million in lottery tickets at half price as a way of making a payoff to him. The fact that Lew may still have lost money on his tickets would not change the fact that he had accepted a payoff. It would have been helpful if the NYT had reminded readers of this logic.