They call the magazine “Newsweek,” but in today’s 24-hour news cycle, a weekly magazine that is seen as a recycler of old news is courting a death wish. To avoid this, Newsweek gives us haughty pieces of attitude, not only in the cover stories, but on the cover itself. Remember the cover on Iraq with the words “Bush’s $87 Billion Mess”?
This week’s edition is the latest in a series of let-‘er-rip Bush-bashing covers. It pictures President Bush floating encapsulated in a bubble with the headline “Bush’s World. The Isolated President: Can He Change?” The headline on the cover story inside is “Bush In A Bubble.” They worry that Bush is possibly “the most isolated president in modern history.”
Arianna Huffington went on quite a rant at her blog today over the president’s speech in Philadelphia. In fact, she pulled no punches. Early on, she stated that “the president’s fanaticism is a scary prospect for the country.” But, that was just the beginning:
“The latest issues of both Time and Newsweek paint a portrait of an isolated president detached from the reality of all that is going on around him. Nothing seems to be penetrating -- not the rising death toll, not his depressed poll numbers, not the continuing revelations about the deceptions his administration used to lead us to war. Not even the growing skepticism about the war being expressed within his own party.”
The roundtable members Monday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume derided the premise of this week’s Newsweek cover story with President Bush on the cover inside a bubble. Inside the magazine, under the “Bush in the Bubble” headline, Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe insisted: “Bush may be the most isolated President in modern history, at least since the late-stage Richard Nixon.”On FNC, Morton Kondracke contended “that this piece comes directly from the Washington establishment. ‘Bush is in a bubble that does not include us. We should be inside the bubble, all buzzing in Bush's ear.’” Kondracke contended that Bush talks to the people that he wants to talk to. But the people who he doesn't talk to is, you know, this Washington old guard that buzzes back to the press all the time." Mara Liasson of NPR rejected the premise of the article that Bush would act differently if only he talked to more people and suggested Newsweek was frustrated by a White House staff who “aren't inviting them in for long lunches where they bare their souls.”
Fred Barnes characterized the magazine’s take as a “hearty perennial...for journalism” and recalled how Newsweek had dismissed President Reagan’s White House as “The Detached Presidency." In fact, the September 7, 1981 Newsweek article was headlined: “A Disengaged Presidency.” But the first sentence of the story acknowledged the media’s lack of respect for Reagan and included the “detached” term: “For weeks the White House press corps has wondered and wisecracked about Ronald Reagan's detached style of leadership: his apparent unfamiliarity with some issues before him, his reliance on aides and campaign-style cue cards in dealing with Congressional power brokers and foreign leaders.” The piece, which carried Eleanor Clift’s byline, later charged: “Reagan's undemanding approach to his work can lead to embarrassing displays of inattention and ignorance.” (The discussion on FNC and how the Newsweek story also praised 41 for raising taxes, as well as an excerpt from the 1981 article, follow.)
The latest issue of Newsweek featured an almost 4,000 word article – written by Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe, with assistance from Holly Bailey, Daniel Klaidman, Eleanor Clift, Michael Hirsh and John Barry – that painted a pretty bleak picture of President Bush as possibly being “the most isolated president in modern history.” The authors referred to Bush as being in a “bubble” that blocks out thoughts, policy suggestions, and ideas that he is either unwilling or intellectually incapable of absorbing. Some of the lowlights:
“Yet his inattention to Murtha, a coal-country Pennsylvanian and rock-solid patriot, suggests a level of indifference, if not denial, that is dangerous for a president who seeks to transform the world.”
“What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable.”
NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared on this weekend’s Inside Washington that the House vote to extend the current tax rates on dividends and capital gains was “immoral” as she ridiculously claimed, in the face of ever-soaring entitlement spending, that Congress is cutting aid to the poor. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas backed her up, asserting that “we need to raise taxes...and who better to raise them on than the super-rich?" Totenberg argued of the tax rate extension vote: “I just think it's immoral to do that, not to mention fiscally irresponsible, when you're cutting people who have nothing -- from children off of Medicaid and mothers who depend on childcare losing the childcare and can't work. And then what do they do? Go back on welfare? I mean, it is, it's, I just think it's immoral." Columnist Charles Krauthammer tried to insert some rationality into the tax hike advocacy of Totenberg, Thomas and columnist Mark Shields, as he pointed ot that if the House position does not prevail and "you abolish" the current rate "you are essentially raising" taxes when that current rate expires in two years. (Transcript follows.)
Yesterday, I posted an article here concerning a piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. The inherent hypocrisy of Alter's column generated the following op-ed from me that I wanted to share for those that might be interested:
America’s mainstream media are in high dudgeon over efforts by our military to get its story out in Iraq, where winning hearts and minds is an important component of victory. Typical is Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter, who wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda.” In it, Alter came down strongly against the behavior alleged last week by the Los Angeles Times - that the Pentagon is buying placement of articles in Iraqi newspapers.
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda” wherein he came down strongly against recent revelations that the Pentagon might be “buying” articles to be placed in Iraqi newspapers. On the one hand, there is some delicious irony in seeing an anti-propaganda column in an American periodical that is periodically so full of it. Yet, maybe more curious is how Alter seemed mostly disgusted by the amount of money the Pentagon might be paying for such an exercise without recognizing how inexpensive this is compared to the cost of waging a war measured in both dollars and lives. This is made even more hypocritical given Newsweek’s antagonism to this war. However, none of these glaring holes seemed to deter Alter from making his argument.
It is interesting that one of Alter’s major sources for this piece is that venerable bastion of geopolitical opinion, Rolling Stone magazine:
Newsweek’s Susannah Meadows, with help from Howard Fineman and John Barry, wrote what appeared to be a 2008 presidential advertisement presenting Sen. Hillary Clinton to readers as a pro-military hawk. In doing so, Meadows unintentionally exposed an interesting hypocrisy in the senator’s stance that she, like others in Congress, was misled by President Bush prior to her October 11, 2002 vote to authorize the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
First, Meadows went to great lengths to present Sen. Clinton as not being a dove:
Newsweek contributing editor and "The McLaughlin Group" panelist Eleanor Clift attacked Bush's Speech at the U.S. Naval Academy as well as other important things, such as the banners at the speech and the photo used by the New York Times:
"It’s hard to know which to admire more, the choreography or the chutzpah. White House spinmeisters put up banners that blared PLAN FOR VICTORY in case anybody missed the message in President Bush’s latest iteration of his Iraq policy in a speech on Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The photo the following day on the front page of The New York Times showed Bush bathed in the Navy colors of blue and gold and heroically positioned as though standing on the bridge of a battleship. All he needed were some stripes on his sleeve and he’d be ready for the lead in "H.M.S. Pinafore."
The 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s death in New York drew a big article in Newsweek by Jeff Giles, filled with all the normal liberal genuflections: "the man who wrote ‘Imagine,’ ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘All You Need Is Love,’ which amount to the greatest ad campaign for brother- and sisterhood in history." In between that and Sinead O’Connor’s scary metaphors for Lennon ("He was my breast milk, you know?") was a series of rock star tributes to their favorite songs. Dave Matthews bowed deeply to the genius of "Imagine," his utopian anthem about imagining a world without religion, without possesions, without countries, and without anything to kill or die for:
In his new web column, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor Christopher Dickey writes about his dinner last Sunday with former Time White House columnist Hugh Sidey, who suffered a fatal heart attack the next day. Unfortunately, Dickey spoils his reminiscence of his friend with a lament/rant concerning the good old days when the liberal establishment media had the field all to themselves (emphasis added) :
For most of Hugh’s career, well into the 1980s, small-town newspapers told people what local editors thought they needed to know, and a handful of national media gave them what the press barons thought they ought to know. You could count the important national media on your fingers: Time and NEWSWEEK, The New York Times and to a lesser extent the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, AP, UPI, plus the three major broadcast networks—that was it. This could have been a terrible system, but in retrospect it seems a benevolent oligarchy. These media were not oblivious to market forces, but neither were they compelled to pander to them. They felt a duty to cover Washington politics, major economic issues and foreign news in considerable detail, even if only a fraction of their readers ever got past the headlines. They could dare to be boring, if that’s what it took to be responsible.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, in a new article entitled “Bush at the Tipping Point,” joined an expanding list of media representatives that have not only completely ignored statements made by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) concerning his disappointments with the Iraq war that came before his Thursday call for troop withdrawals, but also thoroughly misrepresented the level of support that Murtha gave to the initial war resolution back in October 2002:
“Murtha was the one-man tipping point. Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse.”
As reported by NewsBusters here, Congressman Murtha first voiced dissent for this war in September 2003, and then again in May 2004. However, maybe most important, the record before the war resolution passed on October 11, 2002 shows Murtha as having initially been against invading Iraq, and only getting onboard when a revised resolution was proposed on October 2. Prior to those revisions authored by Democrats in the House to assuage dissenters like Murtha, the Congressman was quite vocal against an invasion:
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, in a new column previewing on MSNBC.com, has finally moved the “Bush lied” debate in a direction that has been highly anticipated: in her view, the alleged misinformation concerning Iraq WMD is equivalent to what President Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara did in 1964 concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident:
“There is a parallel with Vietnam in the falsehoods advanced by government to rally congressional support and public opinion for war. Take the ongoing controversy over exactly what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. Although analysts on the scene radioed back to Washington that there was no cause for alarm, President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara glossed over doubts about a second attack on American ships and trumpeted the alleged expansion of the war by the North Vietnamese to rally Congress and the American people to escalate a war that had been losing public support. Sen. William Fulbright, one of only two senators to oppose the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, said in a speech on the Senate floor, ‘We will rue this day.’”
Tonight, the Newsweek web site is topped by a picture of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) with the words superimposed: "WHY JOHN MURTHA IS RIGHT: It's time to stop deluding ourselves on Iraq." The commentary by longtime Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey begins with his attempt to buttonhole war architect Paul Wolfowitz on the war's aftermath, but he's unsatisfied. Bushies are ideologues unlike anti-war liberals like Dickey:
"So the big mistake in Mesopotamia, it would seem, was not following the grand plans of the best and the brightest who took us to war there in 2003. Others failed, not they. And maybe the armchair war-lovers of the Bush administration really believe this. Ideologues see the world through different lenses than ordinary people. From their perches in government or academe, they like to imagine themselves riding the waves of great historical forces. Faced with criticism, they point fingers at their enemies like Old Testament prophets and call down the wrath of heaven.
The Washington Post’s new ombudsman Deborah Howell, in only her second article in her new position, chose to defend journalists’ use of unnamed sources. Of late, this has become quite a hot-button issue, as an increasing number of articles from more and more media outlets seem to rely almost exclusively on anonymous suppliers of information, supposedly from within the White House.
In fact, in the past week, two of America’s leading magazines, Newsweek and TIME, published articles about turmoil inside the White House with bold predictions about changes to come within the administration. The latter just Monday claimed that deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are all about to leave the White House in a huge administration reshuffling.
Yet, in both of these reports, not one source was named. This makes the beginning of Howell’s article even more disturbing:
On this morning’s “The Chris Matthews Show” on NBC, ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson said that Vice President Cheney certainly knew what his chief of staff I. Lewis Libby was doing when he told reporters about Valerie Plame working for the CIA. In addition, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman first compared President Bush to Tony Soprano of the HBO series “The Sopranos,” then called him “The Godfather,” referring to a part played by Marlon Brando wherein he was the mafia chief of America’s largest crime family named Vito Corleone.
On this weekend’s McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as “a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed.” She proceeded to predict that “the Democrats are going to push” the contention that President Bush “abused his authority” in going to war and so “frankly, if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." Sounds like a motivation for journalists covering next year’s campaigns. (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com: “On the day the Scooter Libby indictments were handed down, Conyers invoked the language of Watergate: 'What did the President and the Vice President know, and when did they know it?’ If the political tables turn, impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.”)
Picking up on how fellow McLaughlin Group panelist Pat Buchanan described the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence, Clift charged: “'Hyped,’ 'cherry-picked,’ 'misled,’ whatever the words you use to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to American people on fear." Asked to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush “can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."
Video of Clift raising impeachment, in Real or Windows Media. (Fuller quotations of Clift follow as well as an excerpt from her posted column.)
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter has an article that was just posted at MSNBC.com wherein he stated that Karl Rove could be guilty of violating Executive Order 12958 concerning the release of classified national security information, and, as a result, could lose his security clearance. As Alter sees it:
“According to last week’s indictment of Scooter Libby, a person identified as “Official A” held conversations with reporters about Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA operative, information that was classified. News accounts subsequently confirmed that that official was Rove. Under Executive Order 12958, signed by President Clinton in 1995, such a disclosure is grounds for, at a minimum, losing access to classified information.”
For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe wrote an article for the upcoming issue entitled, “Flying Blind,” wherein they asserted, “Team Bush is in turmoil.” To be sure, the title is quite appropriate, for not one of the eight “quotes” or paraphrases from White House “aides” identified the name of the source. In fact, two of these (the second and third bullets below) were referenced by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" this morning:
In the upcoming issue of Newsweek, senior editor Jonathan Alter suggests that the tactics of the Bush administration have acted to lessen democracy in America.
In a piece entitled, “The Price of Loyalty is Incompetence,” Alter states, “The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home.” The premise of the article is that Bush and Company require rubberstamps of approval from all who work in the administration without any dissent if one wants to continue to be part of the team:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
A Newsweek article written by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball currently posted at MSNBC.com once again offered the view that the Bush administration lied to journalists about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the March 2003 invasion:
“Oct. 19, 2005 - The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.”
To bolster their view, Isikoff and Hosenball cited the opinion of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
“The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD was ‘certainly not accurate, it was not true,’ says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled ‘A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates,’ about different versions of the NIE that were released. If Miller’s account is correct, Libby was ‘misrepresenting the intelligence’ that was contained in the document, she said.”
Yet, like many journalists that have used CEIP as a reference, Isikoff and Hosenball neglected to inform their readers that CEIP wasn’t always so convinced about the absence of WMD in Iraq. In fact, Eric Pfeiffer of National Journal’s “Hotline” wrote about this very issue in a January 2004 op-ed for National Review:
Even though the big news event this week was the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, NBC’s Chris Matthews this morning, on a show that bears his name, chose to lead with Karl Rove’s upcoming testimony in front of a grand jury. To assist him, Matthews stocked his panel with the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Clarence Page, Judy Woodruff, and a lone “conservative” voice, Howard Fineman.
Of course, when Howard is the sole “right-wing” member of a panel, you’re certainly not going to get a fair and balanced discussion on any issue. As a result, what ensued was quite a Rove bash-a-thon, with dire prognostications of what the meaning of this fourth appearance in front of the grand jury could mean for Rove as well as the Bush administration.
In one of Newsweek’s online chats, political reporter Howard Fineman is floored by the hard-left harangues the chatters are offering up. (It’s par for the course for this site, but let’s hope Fineman doesn’t think of this gang as representative of public opinion in general. It might be representative of Newsweek subscribers in general.) The headline: Fineman’s circle thinks the GOP is toast in ‘06, and a little puzzled that Newsweek is being mistaken for a Republican shill sheet :
Las Cruces, NM: Why are there not calls for Mr. Bush's resignation or impeachment?...Could there be a public referendum—an open election with no Republican-led Electoral College—by the people, for the country's future? Howard Fineman: I've been hearing impeachment stuff for a few months or more now. I doubt that it will come to that, but the consensus here now is that the Repubs are going to get whacked next year.
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter launched a vicious attack, on Congressman Tom DeLay's ideology, in this week's magazine. Promoting it, on Monday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, he charged that "it's the first time in 200 years that the House of Representatives has been run for a whole decade, or almost a decade, by a corrupt zealot." That matched the language in his one-page piece, "Tom DeLay's House of Shame," in which he contended: "I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot." The pull-out quote in the hard copy edition, and the subhead online, read: "Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge." Alter maintained that "the only reason the House hasn't done even more damage is that the Senate often sands down the most noxious ideas, making the bills merely bad, not disastrous."
Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift could hardly contain their excitement over the "Power Outage" of the Republican Party. (Oct. 10 Issue). Indeed, by the time the first paragraph was finished, the GOP "Leadership" (put in quotes by Newsweek) was described as one that supposedly promotes a feeling of "awe and fear" by the "flock," the members not in the "Leadership." The meeting of "The Leadership" was dark and secretive enough to be analogously compared to the Baath Party:
"In the Tom DeLay era—now at least temporarily ended—a meeting of the House Republican Conference usually was a ceremonial affair, at which "Leadership" (always a single word, spoken with a mixture of awe and fear) clued in the flock on Done Deals. The proceedings had the spontaneity of a Baath Party conclave."
In an article entitled “The Time is Right,” Newsweek used an interview with long-time feminist activist Marie Wilson to hype a Hillary Clinton presidency as well as ABC’s new series about a female president, “Commander in Chief.” Newsweek set the piece up by referring to a possible Hillary-Condi matchup in 2008. However, Wilson is never asked what she thinks of the second female Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, which certainly would have been a natural question for a woman who is president of the White House Project, a non-profit organization designed to assist the advancement of women in the workplace and in politics. Instead, the only female politician discussed with Wilson was indeed the junior senator from New York.
As for ABC’s new series, Newsweek and Wilson made it very clear what the intention of this show is (Newsweek’s questions in bold):