Saturday, May 7, 2011

*Newsweek* is Dead

I have been a constant reader of, and sometime subscriber to, U.S. News and World Report since my early teen years. I enjoyed the magazine because, though it was hardly evenhanded, it was the most evenhanded of the major newsweeklies, and has been - at least for as long as my experience with it beginning in the 1980s.

Not long ago I received notice of something that I already knew was coming thanks to reading the U.S. News blog - the magazine was shutting down as a paper weekly and would become an internet-only phenomenon. My paper subscription would be finished out by receiving a comparative number of issues to Newsweek.

Oddly (to me, but perhaps not in the grander scheme of things), the folding of U.S. News nearly coincided with some major changes taking place at Newsweek. Following an acknowledged decline of the magazine into rank liberalism (Evan Thomas, an Assistant Managing Editor at Newsweek, once famously admitted, "I think Newsweek is a little liberal.") beginning around 2008, the fortunes of Newsweek declined (i.e., the subscribers and advertisers abandoned ship, as they always do, cf. Air America) to the extent that the magazine was sold for $1 and a new management team, and consequently a new editorial team, was brought on board. Beginning with the March 14, 2011 issue, new Editor-in-Chief, Tina Brown, rolled out the "New Newsweek."

Tina Brown became famous - or at least well-known - as a progenitor of the breathy, Harlequin romance-style of "journalism" that provides bored women with fodder for gossip at bridge clubs held in the dining rooms of the wealthy the world over. In fact, she first gained international recognition (again, "fame" may not be the concept I am hunting for here) for providing coverage, in Britain's Tatler and on NBC's "Today Show," about all things Princess Di. From there, she moved into the heady journalistic spheres of... Vanity Fair. Yeah, this will end well.

So with these bona fides (Did I mention that she then founded a "news"/opinion website called The Daily Beast? Never heard of it? No worries - you are hardly alone, but you frankly need no more information about the site than to look closely at its name....), Tina Brown was an obvious choice to become Editor of Newsweek. OK, enough with the pretense. No, she wasn't an obvious choice. And still isn't. Let's be honest - she was an affirmative-action hire, like Katie Couric at the CBS Evening News. And her tenure will mimic Couric's in every way... but I am getting ahead of myself.

Journalism is not anything that Tina Brown understands. Politics (at least progressive, leftard, feminists-in-jackboots-sieg-heiling-thither-and-yon politics), she understands. And marketing. Or, I guess when done to the extreme now being indulged by Newsweek and for purely political purposes, I think it is usually called propaganda.

But me, being the patient and defer-all-judgment sort that I am, was willing to pick up the "New Newsweek" on the day when it arrived in my mailbox and check it out. Who knows? I have been pleasantly surprised before. Though not often. And I wouldn't be this time, either.

Opening the March 14 issue to its first substantive piece I saw a Tina Brown editorial statement (surprise!) titled "A New Newsweek" (surprise! surprise!). In a breakout box in the center of the page was a short blurb that in 26 lines, averaging about 6 words per line, contained some form of the word "women" or a pronoun that referred to women six times. Women today, we are told, are "fighting tyranny," "speaking truth," and "fighting for basic rights" including "being safe from sexual violence." I momentarily thought that I might be detecting a rather perverse theme, so I flipped back to the front cover and saw the word "women" twice on the cover. I then saw a story about "shattering glass ceilings" and a brief blurb about "the Dior Debacle," referring, of course, to the fashion designer, Christian Dior. Still not persuaded that I was seeing things clearly, I flipped to the table of contents page and spotted the word "feminist" twice and a story about "New Jersey's political odd couple." OK, you may have to beat me over the head with a boat oar, but I am persuaded that I am seeing it clearly now.

Now, just to supply some context here, the March 14, 2011 issue of Time magazine had a cover story titled, "Yes, America is in Decline." Given that we have three wars running, a $14 trillion debt (that anyone will admit to), near 20% effective unemployment, the dollar in steep decline, and the Keystone Kops infesting the executive branch, I find this a timely and relevant idea for an article in a leading newsweekly. Consulting the table of contents page of the March 14 Time, I find articles on oil prices, reforming Wall Street, Yemen, the budget fight in Congress, and the union chaos in Wisconsin. News. Real news.

So maybe Time is just great at what it does, and maybe that is why Newsweek somehow got run into the ground in the first place? Checking the March 7-14 issue of the liberal The Nation, I found a cover story on the publication of some new communitard book on using the French Revolution as a model for continuing to fight for "social justice," with other stories on "The Green Counterrevolution" and "In Defense of Public Workers." OK, not as good as Time, perhaps, but I think that we can grant that it is at least "newsy." Again, checking the table of contents, I saw articles on the Arab uprisings and censorship, just to name a few.

The March issue of the conservative The American Spectator contained pieces on the state of the Obama presidency, "Obama's Phantom Trains," Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and the importance of the U.S. Constitution. Again, substantive and "newsy."

So, Brown's schtick is not seriousness, apparently - at least not when compared to her journalistic/liberal/conservative peers. Well, she admits as much, when, in her editorial statement ("A New Newsweek") she states that her vision for the magazine is that it will "allow the reader to PLAY in a different way" (emphasis added). So in a world in which Princess Diana is significant, "news" is "play." Let the dumbing down continue.

Did I mention that part of the "New Newsweek" is an emphasis on... well, why should I say it when Tina Brown's own words will do? "And let's not forget PICTURES" (emphasis added). Did somebody say "dumbing down?" Now if someone would just say, "See Spot run. Run, Spot, run!"

So, dumbing.... errrrr, thumbing through the March 14 issue I see... fashion ads from The Limited (p. 9), an article on Arab feminists (p. 11), fashion ad from St. John (p. 13), an article on the "ominous" decision of Asian men to forego marriage rather than deal with feminists (v. 15), the ever-present photo spread of French President Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni (p. 20), what "France's most powerful businesswoman" believes about nuclear power (p. 30), "the secret to newlywed bliss" (p. 35), what Charlie Sheen's meltdown means for the various women in his life (p. 37), an article on what it was like to be one of Sadaam's children by (you guessed it!) one of his daughters (p. 40), a reprint of a 1960 article on "Young Wives with Brains" (p. 41), "The Hillary Doctrine," including the predictable sidebar on "The Evolution of a Feminist" and consequent breakout box on "The Gender Metric: The payoff for women's empowerment" (p. 44), "150 Women Who Shake the World" including a teenage student who is a "top student" at one of Cambodia's best private schools - and I swear I am not making this up (p. 52), an article on Iranian feminists - didn't they just do this a few pages back? (p. 66), an article on fashionista Christian Dior (p. 72), book reviews on four books, three by women, one of which is on love and another described as "a beautiful book" (p. 78), an article on cooking (p. 82), a blurb on the comeback of stilettos by Chanel in which the reader is encouraged to "step out in style" (p. 83), and a closing bow toward Kate Moss (p. 84).

OK, I admit, I am not being fair. That was just one issue. Tina Brown and her femtard buddies had a lot of pent-up gender rage and self-absorption and, well frankly, fashion advice after having been silenced by The Patriarchy all these years. One could forgive them for letting loose just this once, right? They will get back to their sober custodianship of a vital news organ with the next issue... likely.

So then I receive the March 21, 2011 edition of Newsweek and find that, among other cover stories are "Who Took the FUN Out of Washington?" (emphasis added) and articles on coffee and the ubiquitous Charlie Sheen. Inside are the requisite self-congratulatory letters to the editor on the new gynocentric magazine - from Lorraine and Terri, of course - I swear I am NOT making this up (p. 4). Follows, commentary on cutting back financially by transvestite celebrity RuPaul (p. 25), a fashion look at Kate Middleton (p. 30), a bow toward Michelle Obama's fashion sense (p. 44), an article on Starbucks (p. 50), Celine Dion and the homeless in Vegas (p. 58), more entertainment news in an article on Bono, Spiderman, and the omnipresent woman - director Julie Taymor (p. 65), a book review which can be summarized as "it is legitimate to murder if you are a chick claiming abuse" (p. 67), a blurb on spas (p. 69), an ad on enjoying your bath (p. 70), and an automobile review comparing the featured auto to a "Gucci" (p. 71). And no, I am not making that up, either.

Then the April 11, 2011 Newsweek arrived and Kate Middleton and Madonna shared the cover stories (yawn). An ad for bottled water graced page six, and an ad for taking your kids to the playground graced page nine. Sex discrimination on page 23 yields to the royal wedding on page 32 yields to a "Save the Children" ad on page 56 and a feature on Tina Fey on page 59 and a feature on Whoopi Goldberg on page 62 and dazzling heels and Michelle Obama's pearls on page 63 and I just can't do this anymore....

So the April 28, 2011 issue of Newsweek arrived with the cover story gloating about "The Beached White Male" yet recognizing that guys without jobs can be a little creepy and dangerous: "The Killer Stalking Long Island." But then, judging by the cover, at least, women aren't exactly tame either, as we are informed that the inside contains a story on "The Smoking Rage of Italian Women." Next issue, please....

The May 2, 2011 Newsweek features (significant, when juxtaposed with the prior cover on the "Beached White Male") the cute little Olsen twins all grown up and exegeted with a story titled "Meet America's Next Billionaires: How Those Cute Little Olsen Twins Built a Big, Fat FASHION Empire" (emphasis added). And of course, the necessary cover story on... Katie Couric. Next issue please. Things can't possibly get any worse.

Until they did. The May 9 issue of Newsweek cover: "Notes From a Royal Wedding," Sarah Palin, and "Obama's Mysterious Mother"....

It was at this point that I canceled my subscription.

Newsweek, though I would argue that it has seldom been a serious magazine, cannot under any standard be considered a serious magazine by even the most frothing-at-the-mouth libtard. Newsweek had its days. It was less liberal than many mainstream magazines throughout the 70s and 80s, and Mike Isikoff even broke the Lewinsky scandal as a reporter for Newsweek in the 90s. Today, however, Newsweek needs only a few scratch-n-sniff perfume ads to become Good Housekeeping, or the perfume ads plus one article per issue on "How to Be a Tiger in Bed" to become Cosmo.

But having adopted the feminist/female perspective, it now attempts to do the work of informing the public about substantive issues with all of the keen insight of a dating profile, all the self-absorption of an Oprah episode on "How to Get Him to Love You for YOU!", and all of the sophistication of a Harlequin romance novel.

Newsweek is dead. It was killed by feminism. And feminism killed it in two ways. First, feminism killed Newsweek by fostering an environment in which someone as untalented and unqualified as Tina Brown could get a job just because she is a woman. Secondly, feminism killed Newsweek by persuading the culture that perspective matters more than truth, and that females have a unique perspective that is worth attending to. In these same two ways (and two dozen more) feminism has almost killed Western civilization.

Newsweek was first killed because somebody, somewhere, made a decision to hire somebody who was not qualified to be a journalist, much less an editor, to handle the serious business of guiding the direction and content of a news magazine. Whoever made this horrible mistake made it because feminism has persuaded them that there is something unique in the female perspective that deserves expressing. In fact, they have insisted, under color of affirmative-action law, that women are required to be given the opportunity to express themselves, regardless of ability - because ability no longer matters. Only perspective matters.

Secondly, Newsweek was killed because it is no longer a news magazine. It is a self-absorbed and petulant expression of self-esteem and female "empowerment." As such, it is a journal of the neurotic, rather than a journal of news, because the only thing unique about the female perspective is its tendency to wholly depart from reality.

There indeed may well be something unique in the female perspective, but it decidedly does NOT deserve expressing, unless one is prepared to make a serious argument that ignoring a $14 trillion debt while explicating the newest in stilettos and Christian Dior controversies is really a grand and important strategy for changing the world in a positive manner. And any magazine that would attempt to persuade us, or deceive us, into believing that "150 Women Who Rock!" is a more important issue than $14 trillion that has to be repaid is on the cutting edge of neurotic - if not psychotic.

Tina Brown is a moron. She was a moron when she was the world's leading expert on Princess Di (and by the way, being the world's leading expert on Princess Di is, in the hierarchy of things, somewhere below being the world's leading expert on The Incredible Hulk... coloring books), and she is a bigger moron today. And a moron, when placed in charge of something important (like one of America's only two remaining newsweeklies) will tend to drag that important thing down to their irrepressibly stupid level rather than abandon their stupidity and pull themselves up to the level of the responsibility that has been laid before them.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is not my position that there is anything wrong with Good Housekeeping or Cosmo, per se. But in the same way that it makes no sense to put lipstick on a pig, it makes no sense to dress Good Housekeeping up in the robes of a sage and call it "newsworthy." Newsweek under Tina Brown is merely Good Housekeeping writ large. It is a futile attempt to float a formerly general-interest magazine by blatantly appealing to a narrow sliver of the general public - women. And let's be honest here, marketing news to women is a bit like marketing Budweiser to Mormons: any inroad you make will be progress, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that it is a cogent business move. Women are the least-informed voting bloc in any demographic study, year after year, and that is not (and has never been) because there is a lack of news for women to access. It is, rather, because women would rather read about Charlie Sheen, Kate Middleton, strappy sandals, and "99 Ways to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed" than they would the intricacies of foreign policy, the intellectual matrix of Constitutional law, or the abstraction of the floating dollar.

The shallowness and self-absorption of the "female perspective" on display at Newsweek is the death rattle in the throat of a once-great American institution. The shallow and self-absorbed demographic it is targeted to reach is too shallow and self-absorbed to care, and those serious, thoughtful, and civic-minded enough to care to read a newsweekly will abandon this mess in droves.

Rest in peace, Newsweek. I am going to be subscribing to something with a little more intellectual heft and journalistic integrity... something like Maxim, whose pictures will always be better than anything Newsweek can offer. In the meantime, enjoy your "play."

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. You really exposed them. Good riddance to another moonbat rag.