Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

bumped - Matt

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, 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.

Tags: Bush, Markos, newsweek (all tags)



Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

This merely means the conventional media is going to be shocked, SHOCKED, when a blue tidal wave sweeps over the country in November. :)

by phillydem 2006-06-26 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt
Not to mention that the "pciture" of Markos is a group of protesters, while Hewitt is pictured in a suit and tie standing in front of a courthouse.
by Chris Bowers 2006-06-26 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I stopped at the title

I stopped reading the Newsweek profile of Kos at the title.

Curiously, on the web it has been changed (I think). It's a bit more objective now. Wasn't it "Kos attempts takeover of Democratic Party" or some such bullshit?

by zappatero 2006-06-26 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: I stopped at the title

I noticed that too! Was (very nearly):

"Can Kos Control the Democrats?"

Now I can't find it at all on any search. They had the very phrase up as a headline over at Raw Story, I think.

Shows you just how creepy they are.

by blues 2006-06-26 08:48AM | 0 recs
You're Right

Look at the top bar of your browser. Mine says "Can Daily Kos Control Dems?" - that was the title of the article text.

But the title in the article now says: "The War's Left Front"

by zappatero 2006-06-26 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: You're Right

Sure. Sure. Just frame it in the form of a question and you can slant all you like. FOX does it constantly.

by Daphne 2006-06-26 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

did some research on astrology: not my way of picking stocks, but, when you compare it to some other things, it's pretty harmless. For example:

                                               Decision-making system:
COMPARABLE FEATURE     Astrology      vs     religious fundamentalism

have to get up on Sunday   no                    yes (unless you're George W. Bush)
born again?               no; unique birth data     yes
stem cell research           no position           the road to damnation
current era                Age of Aquarius               End Times
term for customers          marks                   sinners
can get booted out ?            no                   yes and it could last for ETERNITY
place to visit              San Francisco                       Tulsa
have to pay        newspaper, broker fees     up to 10% of income, broker fees
some people get very rich    not so much                      yes
TV show                         Dharma and Greg       Pat Robertson
could interfere wth sex life   what's yer sign?    procreation only
allows looking at playboy  on certain days      no pics but articles ok
knowledge of celestial bodies  yes                 flat earth
miracles integral                    no                  of course
virgin birth integral                no                  of course
grilled cheese worshipped      no                    occasionally
eternal life/living dead      be here now         absolutely (seriously)
heavens contain              celestial bodies        essences of dead people
predict the future                yes                        yes
homosexuality                 not addressed         (see stem cell research)
holidays                          ? pagan rituals        spendtacular Christmas
special music                    tinkly stuff                  "caroles," "hymns" ???
come to your house/guilt trips  no                         yes
cause for wars                        no                         you bet
geniuses trying to take over government  no          yes
cameras in your bedroom  if thats yer thing    yes, stamped Homeland Sec
symbolic cannibalism          no                          communion
concept of center of earth    hot as hell                   Hell
have to read             newpaper column                  Bible
can say "fuck"                         yes                         (see homosexuality)
serious bling                           yes                         yes
mechanism for obtaining advice  talk on phone        close eyes and whisper
can use devil as excuse             no                         yes
certain foods restricted              no                          sometimes
Jesus has a middle name     no position                    never
equality of sexes                 whatever                     not so much
speaking in tongues               ew                highest level of counsel

by seesdifferent 2006-06-26 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

You forgot: Both - made Ronald Raygun do things...

by Michael Bersin 2006-06-26 11:26AM | 0 recs
Republican media as underdogs?

The title of the Hewitt article implies that the republicans are the underdogs in the media:
"Conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt marries the power of talk radio with the reach of the 'netroots.' Watch out, Kos."

How ridiculous. Yes, despite Limbaugh, FOX, the Sunday shows' love of Powerline...the republicans are the underdog against Kos.

by carsick 2006-06-26 07:17AM | 0 recs

Hewitt plugs powerlosers and such everytime he opens his trap.

You'd probably have to drag it out of Kos that he even started a blog.

by zappatero 2006-06-26 07:56AM | 0 recs
Watch out?

Yeah, I'd never get past that line.

by Daphne 2006-06-26 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Come on - you can't  be serious.  KOS and gang actually tried to PREVENT people from attending a HUGE peace rally last year.

They are not on the "high ground" in the war and neither are you.  Might I humbly suggest you don't fling feces when you are wallowing in the same stuff.

by redaxe2 2006-06-26 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Aw, they just want to level the playing field. Only by making Kos seem crazy and Hewitt sane can they attempt to balance out a situation where in reality everyone is batshit scared of what the GOP is doing to this country.

by The Cunctator 2006-06-26 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Not sure if anyone on the right will be "shocked" this fall -- after all, the so-called-liberal superblogs ban any talk about vote fraud.

Chimpy stole 2000 and 2004.  Some of the results of the 2002 midterms are too wacky to be real.  In CA, they allowed voting machines to be taken home (in direct violation of federal and state laws, regulations, and policies) and the faux "advertise liberally" circle of links hasn't said BOO!

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

Joseph Stalin

by redaxe2 2006-06-26 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Could this be why the chimperor refers to himself as the "decider?"

by redaxe2 2006-06-26 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

It's stunning what the last ten years have revealed about the mendacious biases of the corporate media. Was it always this way, but there was no one chronicling their faults? Probably, because even now, when they're aware that their bullshit will be called at any number of progressive blogs, they just can't stop themselves. Like the Rovians they are, their credibility is in tatters, and all they can think to do is to attack those who say so.

by Ron Thompson 2006-06-26 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

I'm glad that there are people like Eric Boehlert who can stomach the MSM enough to read and watch their crap and keep tabs on it for me --  because I sure can't anymore.

by Sitkah 2006-06-26 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Observe that this entire comment is inside a box. Some of you know that I went out of the "typical liberal" orbit years ago, and that my posts cover a wild range of the political spectrum. In an unprecedented experiment, I have deliberately neglected to read the previous responses of this post in order to preserve the raw nature of my response. No disrespect intended; I will certainly read them momentarily.

I saw the Newsweek article yesterday, and have "slept on it." The outstanding point that the night's sleep has left me with is that I have, it now seems, been unconsciously contending that the Republican / Democratic Party duality may not turn out to be as central to blogs like dKos and MyDD as people may think. The basic premise of blogs like these has been to get liberals elected, and I think the fact that the Democratic party is the only venue in which that seems possible is merely a corollary. My own personal agenda, which I have aired in countless posts, probably is somewhat different, in that I have been saying that we will probably need the help of the paleo- conservatives if we want to oust the neocons. After all, the paleo- conservatives, and there are certainly tens of millions of them, hate the neocons as much we do, maybe even more. In case anyone has forgotten, the neocons have unleashed an unprecedented national crisis.

But far beyond all of that, who is our ultimate enemy? The Republicans? The neocons? It has been dawning on me that the ultimate engine that has precipitated our unprecedented national crisis has got to be the corporate- owned Crypto- neocon Media Apparatus itself. It is not ultimately Karl Rove, or the Republicans, that are the staring point for this unprecedented national mess. I think we are not here merely to petition the Democrats, nor to even defeat the Republicans. Sooner or later we must attempt to discredit the true enemy of the American people, which is the Crypto- neocon Media Apparatus itself.

Thanks for your forbearance! Now I will read the previous comments.

by blues 2006-06-26 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

I think you're right on to it here, blues--we need to be looking at, and breaking down, the overarching frame of the media apparatus itself, and the way it automatically marginalizes anyone who does not choose to be "framed" by it--

The limitations of most journalists who work for the dominant Newspeak journals like Newsweek, Time, etc., are the limitations of the corporate-controlled media frame, as I suggested in my reply to Eric above--


by policybusters 2006-06-26 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

I'm starting to wonder if there's a connection between the recent attacks on Markos and the resentment on the part of "some Democrats" that
Left Blogistan is working to unseat Senator Lieberman.

Seems to me the attacks on Kos ramped up when the polls started to show Lamont within reach of the Senate seat.

Or maybe this is just a coincidence.

by djinn 2006-06-26 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt


And also right after YearlyKos was featured everywhere.  Don't you think the traditional media may be afraid for its jobs?  Nice big, six, seven figure salaries?  Newspaper size and circulation is shrinking.

by prince myshkin 2006-06-26 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

I was wondering if certain Senators--who shall remain nameless--are interested in discrediting Kos et al because they have become a threat to the political establishment.  It's one thing for lefty bloggers to post diaries critical of an incumbent; even raising money and support for  a challenger can probably be seen as innocuous so long as the challenge (Lamont) is doomed.

But in the last six weeks, Lamont's chances and the perception of his chances have really changed.  Helps that the CT press have been critical of Lieberman as well.  I think this is what the DC politicians can't tolerate.  Jerome and Kos had to be smeared and discredited.  

Of course, this is all speculation on my part.  But is does seem that cwertain people "on our side of the aisle" have a tremendous incentive to trash kos.

And yes, of course traditional media is ever so happy to help out.  

by djinn 2006-06-26 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

djinn and prince myshkin are both right.

markos and dkos got an enormous amount of press with ykos, and a lot of it was actually good.

even worse, people saw that bloggers weren't a bunch of crazy, angry adolescents in pajamas, but rather, sane, ordinary people who wanted real democracy.

of course, real democracy is an anethema to those in power and their lackeys, the mmm (mutli-millionaire media).

it is a suprise to any of us that the newsweek article, the david brooks article, the new republic gossip and the hit piece on jerome all came out within two weeks after ykos?

by skippy 2006-06-26 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Don't forget the little throw-away line about Markos getting a shiny new flat screen TV...implying he's just out to make a buck.

Disgusting. This piece was filled with lies, half-truths, omissions and presumptions. They either can't or won't see blog-powered politics for what it is, and I'm sick of it. How many times do we have to say that beating Lieberman in the primary is NOT about Iraq?

And yeah, the photo of the "angry left" was particularly hackish. Way to reinforce that lazy stereotype, guys.

by bkharmony 2006-06-26 10:37AM | 0 recs

I'm not familiar with this Newsweek entity. Is it very old?

by Michael Bersin 2006-06-26 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Mine too; I'm cancelling my subscription and I've had one for 40 years.  Thanks for pointing this out though, and I loved your book.

by Dyana 2006-06-26 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsweek Makes My Head Hurt

Great dissection of the problems with the limited Newsweek perspective, Eric--though I don't think these limitations come just from timidity.  I think the problem goes deeper than this--

So many journalists are used to and comfortable with a very narrow political frame of reference for understanding the world, and most have never been seriously challenged to think critically about the limitations of their own political perspective for interpreting everything within the simplistic US-centric meanings of "left" and "right," liberal and conservative, etc.

Their "timidity" is, I think, only an expression of their unwillingness or inability to develop a larger and more critical frame of reference.  So if a Netrooter's expressed views don't fit within what is already familiar to a journalist as center-left or center-right, these alien perspectives must be labelled, caricatured, or in some other way reduced to something that need not be taken seriously.  

AFter all, if someone like Markos were treated seriously as a writer or political thinker who challenges the comfortable framework that allows many establishment journalists to dismiss, without further thought, anything beyond their zone of familiarity... well, my god, if such a challenge were to be given serious credibility by establishment journalists, the whole structure of the present political order would begin to shake....  and then, oh my gosh, we might actually begin to see real political change!

Change?!--what a threat to those whose continued comfort has come to depend on suppressing meaningful democratic political change....

by policybusters 2006-06-26 01:34PM | 0 recs
I remember seeing

Kerry on Anderson Cooper's show one night last week. For all of 4 minutes. That's it.

by Daphne 2006-06-26 05:13PM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads