The increasing irrelevance of "news" magazines is apparent on the cover of the latest Time magazine with its promise of a "2012 User's Guide," but this is merely framing the same old warmed-over TV dinners of political analysis. In his "preview" of the GOP primaries, Time's Michael Crowley just bashes away at the Republicans as a weak field of unserious candidates. The low point comes under the heading "I Know What You Said Last Winter." Crowley trashes the GOP candidate debates by comparing them to the silliest garbage on reality TV.
"Even if the GOP primaries, wind down quickly, many Republicans are concerned that they will hve done damage to their party," Crowley wrote, as if there should have been no primary season at all. "The series of televised debates -- 16 to be exact -- may have been great entertainment, a political junkie's equivalent of Keeping Up with the Kardashians." Can anyone imagine that crude dismissal by Time of a debate with Barack Obama in the middle of it?
But it gets even worse. Crowley continued:
But conservatives worry that the debates were often unserious spectacles that focused more on the candidates' weaknesses than their strengths and produced crowd pleasing rhetoric that might hamper the party next fall with key voter groups.
Which conservatives are those? This is the next sentence:
"Heavy exposure from the debates and a revolving door of front runners has only hardened impressions that the field is weak," says Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to George W. Bush.
What kind of Democrat-pleasing, Obama-spinning analysis is this? McKinnon is NOT a conservative, he's a co-founder of "No Labels," with its slogan of "Not Left, Not Right, Forward." The group puts out press releases like No Labels High-Fives House Lawmakers Disavowing “No New Taxes” Pledge.
Crowley is being remarkably dishonest. He isn't honest enough to explain that "Republican" strategist McKinnon was a Democrat before catching on with George W. Bush, and that he resigned from John McCain's campaign in May 2008 because Obama's election "would send a great message to the country and the world." The GOP-dismissing words in bold were also highlighted in large blue lettering.
A reader could also suspect McKinnon is quoted anonymously as a "party insider" earlier in the piece spinning against the Republicans:
Party officials insist these fears are overblown, that a long primary fight helped Obama buld his organization in 2008 and could do the same for a GOP nominee. Many Republicans disagree. "How this helps us capture the White House is thoroughly impossible for me to understand," says one party insider.
That's especially true if you, like the media, want Romney to win quickly with the hope he can be McCain-like damaged goods before the convention even arrives. The article's headline is "The GOP Free-for-All: With no limits on spending -- or offending -- in the primaries, Republicans risk harming their presidential candidate."
None of this fits the definition of a "User's Guide." It's a transparent ad against the Republicans that doesn't fit any definition of timeliness. This is why Time and Newsweek have seriously lost a great measure of their political impact since the last cycle. It's not just the increasing speed of the news and analysis cycle. It's because they spent the last cycle desperately selling Obama with gauzy covers and sprawling tributes. It looks even more ridiculous this time out. Time and Newsweek are a weak field.