Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt
by Eric Boehlert, Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 06:25:43 AM EDT
While researching and writing my book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush,"it never ceased to amaze me the amount of extraordinarily bad, lazy and dishonest journalism that's been produced during the Bush years, and produced by what are supposed to be the country's most elite, mainstream news organizations. Amazingly, I think the trend has only intensified since I completed my research and writing in March. The timidity--being afraid of the facts and the consequences of reporting them--is now everywhere you look.
Just take the latest edition of Newsweek currently on newsstands, and specifically just two articles from it (one on liberal Daily Kos and the other on conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt) which manage to embrace everything that's wrong with today's Beltway press corps. (Rule No. 1: GOP up, Dems down.) Let's count the ways.
1. Markos is described as a "rock thrower" and " party-loyalty enforcer," who is filled with "growing belligerence and paranoia" and who last week posted a "berserk" rebuttal to a New Republic hit piece. (Newsweek intentionally plays dumb and describes The New Republic as a "venerable liberal journal." That's the same "venerable liberal journal" that forcefully backed Bush's pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.)
2. But look at how right-winger Hewitt is described: "sanguine, persistent" and a "center-right" talk show host. (For the uninitiated, Hewitt's an argumentative, card-carrying winger. Nothing more, nothing less.)
3. Pimping for Hewitt, Newsweek reports that in May when he urged listeners and readers to donate to the re-election campaign effort of Sen. Rick Santorum, "Donations shot up 500 percent." The source for that figure? Newsweek doesn't say so it's either from Hewitt or Santorum. Were either one furiously spinning Newsweek? The magazine doesn't seem to care and simply reprints the pleasing number.
4. Recapping the Senate debate last week on setting a timetable on troop reductions in Iraq, Newsweek writes, "Sen. John Kerry was constantly on cable TV" touting his own troop reduction amendment. (The clear implication being that Kerry was hogging the cameras.) That appears to be false. Kerry was not "constantly on cable TV." In fact, according to TVEyes.com, the 24/7 news monitoring site, between June 16 and June 25, the three all-news cable channels made reference to "John Kerry" a total of 280 times, but I can't find one instance in which Kerry himself appeared on cable TV to tout his plan. Kerry, minus an interview on the Don Imus radio program, appeared to have made a conscious decision not to appear on the cable TV shows to discuss troop reduction.
5. Newsweek announces "Democrats lost the week in the war over the war." In order to make that GOP-pleasing political calculation, Newsweek conveniently avoids any reference to a string of national polls that show a majority of Americans actually support the Democratic initiative of troop reduction timetable. True, in today's ABC-Washington Postpoll, the country appears split on the issue of troop withdrawal, but the clear trend since January is towards the Democratic stance.
6. While Democrats were losing, Republicans, according to Newsweek's sources, were winning the Beltway momentum game. How does the weekly know? A Republican told them: ""They're buoyed by Zarqawi's death and other steps in Iraq, but they're also strengthened by the disarray of the Democrats," says one senior Bush aide, who asked not to be identified speaking about political strategy." Plus, why on earth does Newsweek agree to give off-the-record status to a senior Bush aide who simply recites pedestrian talking points?
7. Again, busy pushing the nervous narrative that "some Dems" fear bloggers like Markos might drive the Democratic Party too far left, who does Newsweek turn to for a confirmation quote about what "some Dems" are thinking? A partisan Republican, of course. (Newt Gingrich.)
8. And lastly, Newsweek reports that more members of the mysterious, un-named group of "some Democrats" are upset that Markos and company are backing Sen. Joseph Lieberman's liberal Democratic primary opponent in Connecticut, fretting there are batter targets "than a popular incumbent." Of course, if Lieberman actually were "popular" than he wouldn't have to worry about his re-election run, which is now deemed a toss-up.