New Time Editor Wants 'Stronger Point of View' -- Code Words for More Bias?

May 18th, 2006 11:18 AM

Yesterday I noted that Richard Stengel, the recently crowned managing editor of Time magazine, had a documented history of media bias. The Washington Post confirmed that fact today with a brief profile (registration required) on Stengel. He told the Post’s Howard Kurtz that he’d like the magazine to "have a stronger point of view about things." Regarding his own politics, the new managing editor described himself as "a flaming moderate." Stengel also discussed his work as a speechwriter and advisor for 1996 presidential candidate Bill Bradley. The former Senator from New Jersey was Stengel’s idol "from the time I was 9 years old." It’s interesting that a "flaming moderate" would idolize someone who had a lifetime American Conservative Union score of 11. Bill Bradley may be many things, a great basketball player, sure, but he was no moderate.

Stengel, who has written and edited Time magazine for several years, already knows something about giving the magazine a "stronger point of view." On January 12, 2001, he wrote an editorial in the magazine about the inauguration of George W. Bush. In it, he compared the various galas to a "party worthy of British royalty," called it a "coronation" and a "Princess Diana-ish royal spectacle." The following passage captures the alarmist style of the piece:

"Some people are calling George W.'s presidency 'the Restoration.' In most places, when the eldest son of a country's highest leader succeeds his father, they call that a monarchy."

Stengel then proceeds to long for the days of Jimmy Carter.

"It was Ronald Reagan, another Republican president, who gussied up inaugurations after Jimmy Carter had conspicuously tried to make the whole deal plain and unfancy. Carter insisted on calling the balls 'parties,' eschewed white tie and tails, and walked up Pennsylvania Avenue on his own two legs. There's nothing more powerful than the most powerful man in the world walking by himself. I think George W. would send the right kind of message if he embraced good old Republican-cloth-coat simplicity rather than Nancy Reagan's fur and sequins and faux-aristocracy."

Finally, there’s this bit of Stengel wisdom from the November 7, 2000, edition of the MRC’s MagazineWatch. Tim Graham and Ted King quote Mr. Stengel on the lesson he learned from working on the Bradley campaign:

"Despite Stengel’s new crusade, one of his lessons was: ‘Don’t expect the press to carry any water for you.’ He explained how ‘Campaigns do a whole lot more investigative reporting than investigative reporters do,’ and complained about reporters being slow to pick up their spin: ‘Being committed to some he-said-she-said idea of ‘objectivity’ often makes a journalist a neutral vessel of distortion. Correcting a candidate’s mistake is not subjective; it’s objective. At the same time, I noticed that people in politics tend to think journalists are biased toward one candidate or another. This leads to a deep misconception."

Well, it looks like we can look forward to many more "corrections" from the new boss at Time magazine.