Monday, May 12, 2008

The Audacity of Newsweek

Newsweek's cover story this week could easilly have come from Kos, or the DNC. Objectivity and intellectual honesty have been tossed out the window at Newsweek as the writers and editors go absolutely over the top in an effort to delegitimize all criticism of Obama and frame the terms of acceptable debate between now and November.


Obama is incredibly weak on national security, he is an elitist who looks down on traditional American values, his choice of associates (Wright, Rezko, Ayers) is wholly at odds with his carefully crafted public persona and, particularly as to Rev. Wright, put very much at issue Obama's character, judgment and veracity. To the left, this is now the "politics of fear," "painting," "sliming," and that always popular, "swift boating." The NYT has been fighting a rearguard action for Obama for some weeks. And now Newsweek, with their cover story, joins the NYT and goes one better. (The delineation into numbered paragraphs is my own):

1. Republican Victories Are Based On The Politics of Fear

[Newsweek:]. . . The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968, when Richard Nixon built a Silent Majority out of lower- and middle-class folks frightened or disturbed by hippies and student radicals and blacks rioting in the inner cities.

Newsweek just deligimitimzed every election since 1968 that was won by a Republican and did so on the grounds that Republicans are not being truthful with America. The bit here about Nixon might have been more complete if they had added in that the still unrepentant William Ayers and the Weather Underground were attempting at that time to violently overthrow the government. Here and elsewhere, Newsweek all but explicitly states that any highlighting of threats to our society by the right, from the internal upheavals of 1968 to the terrorists of today who seek WMD to use against us, are simply a political strategy with no basis in fact.

2. False "Painting"

[Newsweek:] The 2008 race may turn on which party will win the lower- and middle-class whites in industrial and border states—the Democrats' base from the New Deal to the 1960s, but "Reagan Democrats" in most presidential elections since then. It is a sure bet that the GOP will try to paint Obama as "the other"—as a haughty black intellectual who has Muslim roots (Obama is a Christian) and hangs around with America-haters.

Neither McCain nor any mainstream conservative organization is raising the issue of Obama's Muslim roots. That is a Newseek strawman. As to the rest, Obama says guns and religion are the opiates of the masses, he spent twenty years in a church that spews racisim, anti-semitism, and fantasies of an evil white government attacking blacks with weapons of genocide, and he associates with and launched his political carrer with William Ayers. To point to any of that isn't unfairly "painting" Obama - it's spraying him with clear-coat.

3. Conservative 527's are "Merchants of Slime"

[Newsweek:] . . . Refusing to concede defeat last week, [Hillary Clinton] cited an Associated Press poll "that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again." . . . A top Clinton adviser, speaking anonymously so he could be more frank, says the Clinton campaign has actually been holding back, for fear of alienating other Democrats. The Republicans "won't suffer from such scruples," this adviser says. . . . [McCain] may not be able to resist casting doubt on Obama's patriotism. And the real question is whether he can—or really wants to—rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet and fund the "independent expenditure" groups who exercise their freedom in ways that give a bad name to free speech.

Whoa. Your kidding. Merchants of slime? Sellers of hate? This from the folk who:

- produced the Petraeus Betray Us ads;

- are using video from a successful suicide bombing and a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. dismounted patrol as part of an attack ad against McCain and the war in Iraq (someone should be hung for treason over that) - and the ad itself takes a McCain quote ridiculously out of context;

- refuse to acknowledge reality in Iraq, spin the news from Iraq far outside the bounds of reason, and are doing their damndest to legislate an American defeat for their own partisan gain;

- have no respect for free speech or reasonable debate, but rather demonize anyone who disagrees with them and have long since abandoned any pretext of intellectual honesty, let alone rationality;

- are the last bastions where racism and hatred are accepted and, indeed, encouraged

- are spending hundreds of millions through "independent expenditure" groups while at the same time trying to shut down Republican efforts in the courts.

Bottom line, for the left to label conservatives "merchants of slime" and "sellers of hate" is nothing more than sheer projection.

4. Raising Obama's 20 Year Relationship To The Racist Rev. Wright Is White Racism And Makes McCain Unfit To Be Commander In Chief

[Newsweek:] Recently, when a reporter asked McCain, "Does it bother you at all that you might actually benefit from latent prejudice in the country?" he answered: "That would bother me a lot. That would bother me a great deal." And last week his wife, Cindy, told NBC News, "My husband is absolutely opposed to any negative campaigning at all." So if McCain's camp does try to exploit Obama's ties to the fiery Reverend Wright, the Obama-ites can question his sincerity—is he really the "Straight Talk" candidate? And if McCain can't stop others from the sort of innuendo and code that Republicans have learned to frighten voters, Obama can cast doubt on McCain's credentials as a commander in chief. . . .

Racism has no place in our society and when it raises its head, it should be dealt with ruthlessly. Indeed, there would be no question that a white politician who had a close 20 year association with a vile racist would rightly have been knocked from the race in a matter of days. But not only does Newsweek want to forestall any questioning of the Obama-Wright relationship, their logic is that simply raising the issue is itself an appeal to, if not evidence of, white racism. To call this outragous obfuscation is an understatement. And then to assert that anyone on the right raising the issue calls into question McCain's qualifications to be Commander in Chief is, to put it tactfully, an equally fatuous premise.

5. Raising The Hamas Endorsement Of Obama Is Mud-Slinging and The Endorsement Itself Is Meaningless

[Newsweek:] . . . At the time of the Pennsylvania primary, the McCain campaign sent out a letter suggesting that Obama was the candidate of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group ("Barack Obama's foreign policy plans have even won him praise from Hamas leaders," read the letter). McCain, by contrast, portrayed himself as "Hamas's worst nightmare." (In fact, Obama and McCain have the same position on Hamas —no talks, no recognition, no outreach.) . . .

Hamas, as well as Iran, Castro, Daniel Ortega, FARC, Ghadaffi and other's whose goals are antithetical to the U.S., democracy, capitalism and freedom have all endorsed Obama. It doesn't take an i.q. above 90 to work out that this is because Obama articulates a weak and permissive foreign policy and he embraces soft power politics as a panacea. A weak U.S. creates a happy hunting ground for all of those opposed to America and all it represents. Obama and his virulent apologists can crow til the cows come home about how he does not support these people or institutions, that has no bearing on the the fact that, across the board, those opposed to America support him. The only thing of importance - and McCain's point - is why our enemies support Obama in the first place. Newseek is being so transparently disingenuous in trying to twist this as to be laughable.

6. While Hamas Is Out As An Issue, Wholly Unjustified Suggestions That McCain Is Senile Are Apparently Fair Game

[Newsweek:] . . . Last week Obama told CNN: "This is offensive. And I think it's disappointing because John McCain always says, 'Well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics' … For him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination."

To raise questions about Obama's foreign and national security policy is improper and immoral, but cheap shots aimed at McCain's age are apparently within the bounds of reasonable political discourse for Newsweek. The magazine reports Obama's remarks without batting an eye. As an aside, Newseek, fails to mention Obama's own, frankly incredible problems with early on-set loss of bearings.

7. Calling Obama A Liberal Is Mudslinging

[Newsweek:] Then there's David Bossie, already deep into a mudslinging campaign against Obama through a political organization called Citizens United. Bossie is planning a widespread DVD release of a documentary that will portray Obama as a "limousine, out-of-control leftist liberal … more liberal than [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders, who is a socialist," . . .

How is pointing out that Obama has a more liberal voting record in the Senate than Sanders, mudslinging? Indeed, it is a fact that goes to the center of how Obama will govern and whether his promise to heal all divides and create a utopia of bi-partisan unity is just so much feel good smoke being blown up our collective asses. Pointing to unambiguous reality is not mudslinging. Newsweek only labels it as such to disingenuously frame it as an illegitimate argument that should not be considered by the electorate.

Update: Juan Williams summed up the combined arguments of the NYT, News Week and Obama on Fox News this evening. To paraphrase, to criticize Obama on national security, on Hamas, or to raise Rev. Wright or Bill Ayers makes you a "racist pig."

Why all this frankly outragous bit of agenda journalism now? It is because Obama is a very weak candidate and because he has long and deep associations with racism and anti-Americanism that would rightfully disqualify a white candidate from any elected post above dog catcher. That he survives til today is a function of a grossly biased MSM that has abandoned any pretense of intellectual honesty or objectivitiy. That they are publishing this utter tripe now is a mark of how worried the MSM is that they won't be able to stem the bleeding on all of Obama's weaknesses come November. When it becomes acceptable within polite society to ponder such things as why Hamas endorsed Obama or how Obama can claim to be a post racial candidate when he spent twenty years in a close relationship with a vile racist, Obama's slow bleeding of today will progress into a fatal arterial spray. You can read this whole Newseek cover story here.

Update: Mark Salter, from McCain's campaign, has responded in an e-mail to Newsweek that the magazine has linked:

In an email to Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham on Sunday, McCain adviser Mark Salter responds to this week's cover story:

Dear Jon,

A useful way to read the piece would be to try to imagine you were a Republican reading it. The characterization of Republican presidential campaigns as nothing more than attack machines that use 527s and other means to smear opponents strikes us as pretty offensive. Is that how Ronald Reagan won two terms? . . . From the beginning of their article, Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe offered a biased implication that Republicans have won elections and will try to win this one simply by tearing down through disreputable means their opponents. . .

Suggesting that that we can expect a whispering campaign from the McCain campaign or the Republican Party about Senator Obama's race and the false charge that he is a Muslim is scurrilous. Has John McCain ever campaigned that way? On the contrary, he has on numerous occasions denounced tactics offensive tactics from campaigns, 527s and others, both Democratic and Republican. By the way, which party had more 527 and other independent expenditure ads made on its behalf in 2004? It wasn't us.

By accepting the Obama campaign construct as if it were objective, Evan and Richard framed this race exactly as Senator Obama wants it to be framed—every issue that raises doubts about his policy views and judgment is part of a smear campaign intended to distract voters from the real issues at stake in the election, and, thus, illegitimate. And even if Senator McCain might not be inclined to support such advertising, if he can't stop them from occurring then he will have succumbed to the temptation to put ambition before principle. How this notion could appear credible after MoveOn, the AFL-CIO and the DNC launched negative ad campaigns weeks ago, and after leaks from the Obama campaign that they would soon start running negative ads against McCain, is mystifying. When a conservative talk show host emphasized Senator Obama's middle name, Senator McCain immediately denounced it himself in the strongest possible terms. When a left wing radio host called Senator McCain a "warmonger;" when Senator Rockefeller disparaged Senator McCain's war record; and when Howard Dean consistently accused Senator McCain of corruption, dishonesty and various other smears, the response from the Obama campaign has been either silence or a spokesperson releases an anodyne statement saying they don't agree with the characterization.

To see how completely Evan and Richard have accepted the Obama campaign spin look at the example of an illegitimate smear they cite: Senator McCain raising the Hamas spokesman's comments welcoming Obama's election. The Senator has never said that Senator Obama shares Hamas' goals or values or proposed a relationship with Hamas different than the one he would propose. On the contrary, he publicly acknowledged that he doesn't believe Senator Obama. He did note that there must be something about Obama's positions, particularly his repeated insistence that he would meet with the President of Iran (Hamas's chief state sponsor), that was welcomed by Hamas. Imagine if a right wing death squad spokesman announced that they welcomed McCain's election. Would Evan or Richard treat that as an illegitimate issue or would they examine which of McCain's stated positions might have found favor with the terrorists? That seems obvious on its face to me. Rather than argue that his position on Iran is the right one and has no bearing on how Hamas views him, Senator Obama makes a false charge that we accused him of advocating a different relationship with Hamas than Senator McCain's supports. His false characterization of Senator McCain's statement was accepted uncritically by Evan and Richard.

Democratic Party allied third parties have announced negative ad campaigns, which distort McCain's statements and positions, in the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are already running them. Senator Obama himself and Democrats generally have taken out of context and distorted Senator McCain's statements on a post war military presence in Iraq and his views on the economy. Our townhalls are now routinely salted with Obama supporters who are there to raise embarrassing questions for the Senator (we don't screen people at our events). An Obama supporter asked him in Iowa if he called his wife a very vulgar name. . . .

. . . Without a trace of skepticism, your reporters embraced the primary communications strategy the Obama campaign intends to follow: any criticism of their candidate is a below the belt, Republican attack machine distortion that should discredit the authors. And any attempt by our campaign to counter that suggestion will be dismissed as a rant. The other day, Senator Obama noted that Representative DeFazio's accusation that Senator McCain was up to his neck in the Keating Five scandal was a legitimate line of attack, despite the fact the Senator was largely exonerated by the Senate Ethics Committee, whose special counsel declared he had been kept in the investigation only because of his party affiliation. Were we to raise the Rezko matter, their campaign would accuse us of distracting voters with a low blow by making more of a "flimsy relationship" than the facts warranted. Evan and Richard, I feel certain, would agree.

The McCain campaign will keep to the high standards of political debate Senator McCain demands of us. The Senator will not tolerate unfair attacks by anyone on our campaign. We won't, however, abide by rules imposed on us by our opponents, and which pertain only to our campaign and not theirs, even if they manage to get reporters to call the deal fair.

Read the entire response. It is accurate and articulate. To describe Newsweek as in the tank for Obama is a gross understatement. This is nothing more than an all out push to get Obama in the White House, irrespective of how unqualified he is or how dangerous his policies may be for America. Further, it is a push being made at the cost of Newsweeks journalistic ethics and objectivity. I thought something like this far below the standards of Newsweek. Obviously I couldn't have been more wrong.

1 comment:

Bookworm said...

I agree with everything you're saying about Newsweek's bias. What I wondered as I read it was how much is left of its reach (little, I hope). When I grew up, it seemed as if every American family read either Time or Newsweek, since they were easy and attractive "newslite" papers. Democrats and Republicans all had those magazines in their homes. Is that still true? Is Newsweek preaching to all America, or has it become something only for the moonbats? I hope the latter, so that it is just preaching to the choir rather than (if you'll pardon the metaphorical switch) poisoning the well.