Sale of liberal media star a symbol of looming election verdict on Obama.
They are clueless. Baffled. Stunned.
In the early days of coal mining, there were no ventilation systems. Methane and carbon gas could easily gather in dangerous amounts and explode, killing the miners. So the time-tested way to provide advance warning of danger was to bring in a caged canary. Canaries, like miners, not doing well breathing methane and carbon gas either. When the canary — whose primary occupation was singing — stopped singing, there was only one reason. The little fellow, clueless as to what was really going on around him, would brightly warble away until — baffled, stunned, wobbling — he began to notice that not only was he increasingly unable to sing, the breathing thing wasn’t going so well either. In short order, Tweetie was a goner, a sure signal to the miners to run for their lives because the mine was about to explode.
Over at Newsweek, the liberal newsweekly magazine owned by the Washington Post Co., the warbling of the liberal line is getting difficult. In fact, the gasping for financial breath has become so serious, the Post has decided to put the staggering magazine up for sale.
On a human level, one can take no delight here. The men and women who produce this magazine, in existence since 1933, doubtless have families to feed, kids to educate, lives to live. We wish them well.
But the failure of Newsweek is a significant moment in American culture that should not go unnoticed. It is the journalistic equivalent of the canary, a sign that that the coal mine that is liberal beliefs, assumptions, and ways of looking at the world is about to explode. With real life consequences for those who have endlessly mined this seam of American politics to a steadily shrinking customer base.
First, the magazine itself.
Let’s take a look at the statement announcing the sale by Washington Post Company Chairman Donald E. Graham.
Newsweek, comes the story, “has struggled in recent years.” Says Mr. Graham:
We have reported losses in the tens of millions for the last two years. Outstanding work by Newsweek’s people has significantly narrowed the losses in the last year and particularly in the last few months. But we do not see a path to continuing profitability under our management.
What kind of work has the magazine been serving up to what it obviously thought was its customer base, the American reading public? Let’s wander through some Newsweek stories recent and not-so-recent and take a look at what passes as accepted publishable wisdom over there:
• May 10, 2010 — Reporter Andrew Romano in a piece titled Even Reagan Wasn’t a Reagan Republican smartly assures readers that the GOP “seemed to have given up on the whole governing thing” during the Obama presidency. Romanoff laments the fall of Utah’s Republican Senator Bob Bennett, whom Romanoff breathlessly notes had an 84 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. As if that wasn’t a sign Reagan couldn’t win in the GOP, Romanoff mourns the passing of Florida’s “moderate” Republican Charlie Crist from the GOP. Conclusion: the GOP is now so dogmatic even Reagan couldn’t win.
• September 12, 2009 — Longtime editor Evan Thomas, (perhaps its worth noting here that Mr. Thomas is the grandson of famed 20th century socialist Norman Thomas) has the cover story during the height of the furious debate over ObamaCare. Title? “The Case For Killing Granny.” In which Thomas begins by describing the insistence of doctors trying to keep his dying mother alive against her wishes. Then Thomas segues from self-determination into arguing for the need of government or someone to pull the plug on seniors.
• November 14, 2009 — Thomas again, this time with a cover story featuring a photo borrowed from Runners World that depicts former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in short running shorts. “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She’s Bad News for The GOP — And Everybody Else, Too.” Thomas bemoans Palin’s rise as a sign of “the death of the center” in American politics. In the Reagan-Bush era, he notes loftily, the Bushes went out of their way to get along with the Reagans. Clearly, he preferred the latter over the former. Unmentioned is that Reagan won, the Bush approach losing to Bill Clinton.
• February 7, 2009 – “We’re All Socialists Now” crowed the cover that showed a red hand shaking a blue hand. The point: America will become France. Fighting against big government will be a relic of the 20th century. And there was this zinger: “Remember Joe the Plumber? Sadly, so do we.” Was that line crafted over drinks at the Yale Club?
Then there was the retracted story about Guantanamo officials flushing Korans down the toilet (2005) that set off riots in the Islamic world. The 2009 cover story by David Frum attacking Rush Limbaugh. To go back in time, there was the March, 1992 story with a turtle-necked Bill Clinton gazing dreamily from the cover, the question asked: “Can He Beat Bush?” Not should he, mind you, but can he. Sympathy for the Bushes, as later expressed when discussing Palin, was noticeably if predictably absent. And on…and on.
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