The national media was full of broken hearts last week when Dana Reeve died at 44, after nearly a decade of caring for disabled “Superman” star Christopher Reeve. It was obvious from the coverage that this woman had won hearts and made friendships in the media elite. But something strange happened in all the laudatory waves of coverage. Someone shrunk her activism.
It’s common for reporting on embryo-destroying stem cell research to leave out the embryo-destroying part. But the tear-stained accounts of Reeve’s sudden end often left out the words “stem cell” as well. This week’s Newsweek has a two-page article, largely about lung cancer, headlined "A Legacy of Love and Hope: Dana Reeve dedicated her life to finding a cure for spinal-cord injuries, only to fall victim to lung cancer."
AP hyped up the rest of the press last Wednesday about its "confidential" tape it wrongly suggested was evidence Bush lied about no one discussing the breaching of New Orleans levees before Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, AP backed down with a "clarification," admitting "The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking."
None of this is mentioned in Newsweek, which wraps up its issue on Sunday. Most egregiously ignoring the new AP line was Jonathan Alter's "Conventional Wisdom Watch," which continued its Keith Olbermannesque streak of shameless Bush bashing. Bush received his traditional down arrow with the snarky line: "Falsely claimed no one could have predicted New Orleans levee breach. Let's go to the videotape!"
This week's hands-down winner in the Worthless Piece of Air category is Howard Fineman's page in Newsweek puffing up the presidential prospects of Rudy Giuliani. Any political reporter worth his salt knows that pro-gay, pro-abortion Rudy is this cycle's Republican Don Quixote. (Fineman, do you forget Arlen Specter for President? Or Pete Wilson for President? Aren't experienced political reporters supposed to reflect their experience?)
Fineman knows the score: "There are those who think the presence of a pro-choice, pro-gay rights New Yorker would help McCain by making him seem to be a comparative godsend to evangelicals." But then it's more ridiculous (not to mention more than a month old) to hype his January appearance before evangelical pastors in Florida:
The most transparently obvious way of displaying liberal bias is to take an issue like an abortion, and suggest the conservative side is extreme, while describing the liberal, abortion-on-demand side without a label, as reasonable, almost non-ideological. Newsweek's that obvious in this week's issue, carrying the headline:
Reality Check for 'Roe'
With the hard right hoping for reversal, the black-and-white war over abortion finds itself immersed in shades of gray.
But where is the "hard left" that's so extreme they would abort a baby that was mistakenly born alive? Even as they claim the abortion debate is more ambiguous than either side would like, reporters Evan Thomas and Martha Brant are still displaying their labeling imbalance:
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift has never been good at hiding her liberal bias. Whether in her columns that ooze with hatred for everything just slightly to the right of the extreme left-wing politicians she worships, or as a regular on “The McLaughlin Group,” Clift’s partisanship has always been apparent…maybe more so than any other member of the antique media.
Friday’s Newsweek column was a fine example, as Clift’s unabashed bias was in its customarily unprofessional form. In fact, her partisanship was apparent in the title’s subheading: “The controversy over the control of U.S. harbors is pitting Bush against his conservative base. Can the Democrats capitalize on this in the upcoming election?”
I guess Clift didn’t feel it was necessary to hide her bias by at least waiting until the body of her column to begin strategizing for her party. If only it ended there. Unfortunately, it didn’t, for the following was paragraph one:
Newsweek Senior Editor and columnist Jonathan Alter has been inflating the Bush-Cheney duo into an Evil Empire of sorts, utterly undeserving of office (and acting "like a dictator." ) His column this week was titled "The Imperial Vice Presidency," which would have been a laughable headline in the pre-Cheney days. Alter began by endorsing the wild rhetoric of CNN's biggest hothead:
Fox News's exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney was, as CNN's Jack Cafferty sniped, "like Bonnie interviewing Clyde," but Brit Hume posed some good questions.
From there, Alter spun the theory that the modern presidency (and vice-presidency) must submit to press scrutiny, for the press is a proxy for the public:
Via Fishbowl DC, we learn that Howard Mortman's created a new feature on his blog asking famous media types what they read on the Internet. In the early going, both Newsweek top political reporter Howard Fineman and ABC correspondent Jake Tapper list some typical major-media sites, but more interesting to the reader is their claims to digest a balanced diet of blog intake on a daily basis.
Here's the Fineman list, when we separate the blogs on ideological lines. On the right, he lists InstaPundit, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Real Clear Politics, and a little less bloggy (sans Taranto) Opinion Journal. On the left, he views Daily Kos, Atrios, Talking Points Memo, the Huffington Post, Wonkette, and (I'd include on the lib side) CJR Daily. He likes his pal Mickey Kaus, and Slate and Salon in general. In a bow to his "Hardball" buddy Chris Matthews, he also lists "Hardblogger."
In celebrities section of Newsweek this week, the "Q&A" feature is an interview with actor and director Robert Redford. Newsweek's David Gates asked him about how did he "start getting obsessed with Watergate." Redford said when he heard reporters whispering after the break-in that there was more to it, "But nobody wanted to f--- with him." He said of Nixon: "He gave me an award once -- I was 13, he was a senator. I remember being struck by what a bad vibe I got from the guy." Then Redford grew more desperate in tone:
Newsweek: What's the political landscape look like to you today? Redford: Now you pick up the paper and there's a Watergate every day. I don't think anyone's connecting the dots and saying to the public, "Wake up, folks, because you could end up in a totalitarian nightmare, wondering what happened to your country."
What's with the naked woman on the cover of Newsweek, shrouded only by an eyeglass? The provocative cover is meant to advertise an issue on "Sex and the Single Baby Boomer," the demographic that started turning 60 this year -- what reader in their prime really wants to read about this subject? Once again, baby-boomer journalists display an obsession with themselves.
The hot item on the Newsweek website right now is a "Carnal Knowledge" quiz, a 45-question interactive test. The headline encouraging test-takers is "Boinking, boffing, bumping, bedding—boomers always thought they invented it all. So here’s a pop quiz on the half century of sexual high jinks they lived through. Show us how much you know—in the Biblical sense." Unsurprisingly, there are no Bible questions, and there are a lot of questions on gays, transsexuals, feminists, porn, hippie be-ins and 1970s TV. And a question noting the Moral Majority was not "pro-environment."
Newsweek no doubt thought they had a neat story on college debate, which is all the rage at Christian colleges. (That, and it never hurts to remind liberal readers of the Vast Right-Wing Christian conspiracy brewing in the shadows.) Reporter Susannah Meadows focused on a hot debate team at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University:
"We are training debaters who can perform a salt ministry, meaning becoming the conscience of the culture," says Falwell, who is also hoping the team will elevate the humble academic reputation of Liberty itself.
But that's not the way the article originally appeared. Oops. As a sign of Newsweek's general hostility to (and ignorance of) the religious right, they had to publish this correction:
Eleanor Clift's online column for Newsweek is titled "Capitol Letter," but perhaps this week the title ought to be "Sour Grapes." She laments the visual of new Justice Alito sitting in robes to watch the State of the Union address. In the lamest of all possible attack lines (on one of the lamest campaign claims), Clift goes back to whapping on the old uniter-not-a-divider Bush theme of 2000.
The problem with this line (and the original Bush line) is that any Democratic decision to go partisan and "divide" against the president can be (lamely) presented as Bush's failure to be enough of a uniter. But who is the divider on Alito? Republicans did not cast "divisive" votes against nominees they clearly understood to be pro-abortion votes (Ginsburg confirmed 89-3, Breyer confirmed 89-9), but Democrats are unwilling to do the opposite for pro-life justices.
As reported by NewsBusters last Sunday, Newsweek’s recent cover story, “The Trouble With Boys,” appeared to intentionally omit key statistics that might have made the article’s premise completely erroneous. With that in mind, a reader sent me an e-mail message with another pivotal omission on the part of the article’s author.
The third paragraph of this article boldly stated: "By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind." The key word here is "almost," for as amazing as it might seem, in a piece designed to demonstrate how much better girls are doing in school than boys, nowhere was there any reference to the SATs. This test that has been the benchmark for most major colleges and universities for decades wasn’t even mentioned.
Why might that be? Well, because with all these changes to education in the past three decades, and after all the psychobabble, boys still do better than girls on both the verbal and the math sections of the SAT. Moreover, as demonstrated by the following chart created by the College Board,
On Sunday, as reported by NewsBusters, Newsweek did a cover story on what it referred to as a “Boy Crisis.” The article detailed “why” girls are doing so much better than boys in school. In an interesting twist, the Associated Press reported this Wednesday evening (hat tip to the American Thinker):
“A senior boy at Milton High School has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys by making it easier for girls to succeed academically.
“Doug Anglin, in his complaint filed last month with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, claimed girls faced fewer restrictions from teachers and boys are more likely to get punished.”
This year’s Martin Luther King Day celebration was a wild and woolly collection of left-wing blather.
In Washington, showing remarkable feats of amnesia that he was ever vice president in a corrupt administration, Al Gore gave a speech claiming President Bush was a law-breaking president and his illegal actions a threat to the survival of our democracy, an extraordinary accusation for even this man to make, given the same policies were executed by the Clinton-Gore administration.
In New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin announced that God wanted New Orleans to be a “chocolate” city again. When challenged that this might make him sound like a little racist, he dug a deeper hole by claiming whites were the milk in his milk-chocolate shake.
Even in this stew of silliness, Hillary Rodham Clinton still managed to draw headlines for herself by marching into a Baptist church with Al Sharpton in Harlem and giving a fiery speech. First, Hillary sounded the same Clinton-amnesia notes as Gore, charging that President Bush’s team was historically filled with corrupt cronies, that his presidency "will go down in history as one of the worst.” But with Sharpton proudly looking on, she threw the race card on the table with a big, noisy thwack. “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about.” Bush is not only incompetent. Dennis Hastert is a slave master. Laura Bush was right. It was “ridiculous.”
In the new millennium, articles describing the intellectual differences between the genders have been altogether too commonplace. As a result, it wasn’t difficult to presage from the cover of Newsweek’s most recent issue where the editors were going with a headline like “The Boy Crisis.” In fact, once inside, the featured piece, “The Trouble With Boys,” turned into just another in a long line of “exposes” depicting girls as being smarter than boys.
After a pleasant introduction, author Peg Tyre began her laundry list of male deficiencies:
“By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they're a minority at 44 percent.”
Up front in the "Periscope" section of Newsweek, it's reported that Sen. Joe Biden, stung by all the arrows about his blah-blah-blah at the Alito confirmation hearings, suggested that perhaps Supreme Court nominees should face a murder board of liberal media inquiries instead. He suggested confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee should just be junked:
Critics point out that such a plan deprives nominees like Alito the chance to speak in their own behalf. But Biden, who notes that Judiciary Committee hearings haven't always been part of the confirmation process, says ditching hearings would leave nominees to make their cases in the media, where holding back and being boring won't necessarily fly. "Then [the press] would actually write about how they're not answering the questions," Biden says. "You people might get some answers out of them."
In a new column just posted at MSNBC.com, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh offered some truly defamatory comments concerning America’s current president. In fact, much of this article could have been written by Harry Belafonte.
“In fact, [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, who has piled idiocy upon idiocy in a series of offensive remarks that have alarmed the world, has achieved a truly amazing feat. He has made George W. Bush look like a statesman.”
Today's web-only column on the Alito hearings by Newsweek's Jonathan Darman contains an irritating sentence ("In the coming days, Alito and the White House will use small gestures to assure moderate senators, and moderate Americans, that he lives in the same world they do") that suggests that Jonathan may be related to Richard Darman, the famously centrist OMB director under Bush 41.
Far worse, though, is Jonathan Darman's smirky, ahistorical quip, bolded at the end of the excerpt below, at the expense of Clarence Thomas:
Women were everywhere in the first two days of Alito’s confirmation. Seated just behind him as he took the podium yesterday were nine females, including his wife, sister, daughter and mother-in-law. These women were largely silent (though the Alito women were overheard breezily joking with one another on a ladies’ room break). But their mere appearance makes a difference. TV cameras zooming in on his face couldn’t help but capture two striking figures seated behind him wearing robust red. One was the nominee’s wife, Martha, the other, Rachel Brand, the Justice department attorney charged with preparing his nomination. This image, an earnest jurist with a rosy angel on each shoulder sent a message: Let the Democrats say what they like, this judge will remember the ladies.
In Sunday's "Book World" section of The Washington Post, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham reviewed the new book by Richard Reeves titled "President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination." He noted:
President Reagan marks a surrender of sorts. The establishment has, for the moment at least, given in and decided that Reagan was a great historical figure after all. That Reeves arrived at such a conclusion is particularly notable. Twenty years ago, in 1985, he published The Reagan Detour , arguing that "the Reagan years would be a detour, necessary if sometimes nasty, in the long progression of American liberal democracy."
In the Newsweek Live Chat this week, reporter Richard Wolffe faces the usual Daily Kosmonauts and MoveOn hard cases, but his attempts to land in the sensible center were at times just a little too weak:
Hartford, CT:If Bush is allowed to get away with these illegal spying tactics, plus the Patriot Act infringements on our Privacy and Civil Rights, what is left of Liberty for all? How is America any different than Iraq was under Saddam Hussein?
Richard Wolffe: Well by and large the administration doesn't commit genocide on its own people or torture them. It doesn't fill mass graves or keep rape rooms. So there are quite a few ways in which America is different from Saddam's Iraq.
On a regular basis, economic data released by the various government agencies responsible for doing such things is depicted negatively by America’s mainstream media. From unemployment to inflation to housing prices, regardless of the facts, the press typically report nothing but gloom and doom.
Robert Samuelson in this week’s issue of Newsweek candidly informed readers why. After giving a synopsis of positive forecasts for 2006, Samuelson said, “All this good news is, of course, bad for the news business,” and asked, “Could anything darken the outlook and, coincidentally, feed journalism's appetite for misfortune?”
Samuelson then presented five economic cataclysms to cheer up the doomsayers:
It's common for leftists to call President Bush a dictator, and now liberal Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey, by describing the Baghdad proceedings against Saddam Hussein as a "show trial," has associated Bush with one of the vilest dictators ever, Josef Stalin.
I know Mr. Baker has already noticed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's orations on "Meet the Press," but Mr. Taranto pointed out a Meacham quote that I found especially bizarre. (No, I don't mean him saying John McCain's trying to be a "centrist Reaganist figure." Centrist Reaganist?) Late in the segment, Meacham said of Iraq: "I just think we're in the midst of a vast historical change there, obviously, and one of the things that people in our business have to be careful about is either on a daily or hourly or weekly cycle assigning blame or credit and spinning arrows."
Hell-ooooooo? Newsweek has a snarky weekly feature devoted to assigning blame and spinning arrows called "Conventional Wisdom Watch"? Is Meacham telling us that his Bush-bashing CW is going bye-bye, or is he just having a temporary, if comical, bout of amnesia?
Imagine you're a guest on the Today show on New Year's Day, and the host asks you to predict the top stories for the year to come.
What are the odds you choose as your two top stories for 2006: job-loss anxiety among white-collar workers, and white-collar crime?
Yet that is precisely what Marcus Mabry, Newsweek's Chief of Correspondents [pictured here], did in his just-completed interview with host Lester Holt.
While acknowledging that the economy is showing signs of strength, Mabry led with unemployment anxiety among white-collar workers as his #1 story for the year to come. He insisted that:
"the confidence of the American worker is at its lowest point in a very long time, particularly white-collar workers. We see anxiety we have not seen since the days of the dot.com bust. What you see is many Americans filled with job insecurity, who are worried about whether they're going to have a job a year from now. We see greater insecurity than in decades."
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.
Young Newsweek writer Devin Gordon (Duke, class of 1998?) did the magazine's weekly Live Talk online chat Thursday on his cover story on the movie of "The DaVinci Code." In addition to sounding completely in the tank for the movie, including defending the casting choices, Gordon was a bit cheeky when dealing with serious questions about the film being objectionable to Catholics:
Bossier City, LA: This is just typical of Hollywood to produce a movie like this to make a buck in spite of the fact that the underlying premise is absolute heresy. Ron Howard would have been burned at the stake if he lived 500 years ago.
It may not be as inane as Anna Quindlen's lumping of Nazis with the religious right, but Jonathan Alter's web-only piece about President Bush and the NSA "scandal" nonetheless contains some of this week's worst overstatements from a Newsweek columnist. (Hat tips to Kathryn Lopez and Jonah Goldberg in the Corner.)
Excerpts from Alter on what he calls "Snoopgate" (fo' shizzle!):
President Bush...made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War...
There is some very weird liberal opinion on display in this week's Newsweek. Which is goofier?
A) Cindy Sheehan interviewed by Newsweek in the "Fast Chat":
But the peace movement in the U.S. remains small. Why? One thing that has prevented the peace movement in America is the media. I spoke with 5,000 people in North Carolina on March 19, 2005, and the press called the protest "insignificant." They covered the Terri Schiavo case instead.
You feel like you were mistreated by the press? They got hold of everything I've ever said and scrutinized it so carefully. They never scrutinized what Bush said...
Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes still has her liberal blinders on, judging by the letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review yesterday. Responding to an unfavorable review of her book by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Mapes nevertheless credits Alter for being right about the anti-CBS jihad from "the right."
"A thousand times, yes! The bogus questions about typeface used to 'discredit' CBS's Bush/Guard story were a fraud, as Jonathan Alter wrote in reviewing my book, 'Truth and Duty' (Nov. 20). He's also right that the so-called independent panel was a legalistic/ corporate inquisition against the news division I love. I guarantee you that, given the chance, Dick Thornburgh, his firm's lawyers and Lou Boccardi would find even Alter's work sadly lacking. Despite the millions that CBS paid, the panel got a lot wrong and still won't answer for it, just as the president has never explained his aborted military service. CBS panicked over the blog attack and strained to appease the right, whose tactics against us were the same as with Wilson, Plame, Clarke and other administration 'critics.'
CBS’s Hannah Storm interviewed long-time Bush ally and current ambassador Karen Hughes on this morning’s “The Early Show,” and appeared rather testy and ready for a fight (video link to follow). Storm began by painting an incredibly negative view of Iraq leading up to tomorrow’s elections, and then hammered Hughes on why the ambassador thinks things will get better after Iraqis go to the polls for the third time this year:
“What makes you think that the elections will be a turning point? What makes you think they will make Iraq a more secure place for its citizens and the U.S. troops there?”