Seriously, Newsweek?

Newsweek - Obama, the First Gay President

Must be the silly season for magazine covers. First Time magazine sports a bare-breasted mom nursing her three-year-old, and now Newsweek has declared Obama “The First Gay President.” The race to the bottom has really heated up, hasn’t it? Decades-old highly respected news magazines venturing into the realm of shock and misrepresentation, all to generate sales. So much for professionalism and reporting straight news (no pun intended). Now they dish it out with covers rivaling the supermarket tabloids.

Of course we know they don’t mean Obama is gay. (You do know that, right?) They’re referring to his announcement that he supports gay marriage — the first president to do so. That’s a huge difference. There was a time when publicly calling someone gay when they weren’t might have been grounds for a lawsuit. But that’s exactly what Newsweek has done. Worse, however, is simply that the statement is a misstatement; it’s factually inaccurate; it’s a deliberate distortion. The assumption that everyone will know what was meant is no excuse. It’s a cop-out for an editorial department that couldn’t do something imaginative and provocative with the truth.

Sad what’s become of the profession I once knew.

20 comments

  1. The title of the cover and article is wrong, but like the Time cover, it is intended as an attention grabber. I find myself of two minds about it. Surely the vast majority of readers understand the truth, and if the article is factual and well-written, as Michelle says it is, then it’s hard for me to see the harm. I read the Time article and thought it was of high quality as well.

    As to Izaak’s point about the decline of the magazine industry, I submit that there is much marketing potential for using devices like the iPad. I now read both Smithsonian and Time on it and find they are better than paper. In the device format they add additional photography, use pop-ups to explain charts and complications, and even incorporate short video clips. Navigation is easy and the potential is evident. I hope they will eventually incorporate a dictionary.

    1. So true. But I do wish modesty would reassert itself in our culture — just a bit. Historically, a lot of styles tend to be cyclical. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if the current “let it all hang out” attitude started to fade.

      1. Actually, PT, me too. And your comment reminds me of something else deficient in our devolving culture, the thing called “etiquette”, the rules for people getting along with one another. In my youth I thought the concept of setting up rules like that was stodgy and unnecessary. Now I see that it was nothing less than a primer for mutual respect among parties. Now that communication seems to have dwindled to texting I wonder if etiquette will ever return?

        1. I suspect this is our lot in life — seniors bemoaning the wild, rude, and irreverent lifestyles of the younger generation. My parents probably felt the same way, and theirs before them. Still, if everything keeps devolving instead of evolving, you have to worry about where society is going to end up. Currently, without a major course correction, we seem destined for a very ugly future.

      2. Trying, as I always do, to visualize what life would be like in an “ideal” world, I can’t help but think that such things wouldn’t even be considered “news” in a world where people weren’t dominated by a deeply seated sense of self-loathing…

        1. Fascinating. I’d never heard that before. The author makes a good point about society regressing back then. Two steps forward and one step back, I guess, although at the moment there is so much turbulence about both gay rights and women’s rights that it’s hard to figure out exactly where we are. When the dust settles, will we be two steps forward or 50 years back? And of course there’s the “post-racial” society that some (not I) thought Obama’s election had ushered in.

        2. I visited the Salon site about Buchanan and now come away unconvinced as to his sexual orientation. The word “wooing”, like the word “gay”, has multiple meanings, and that goes double when we’re talking about an entirely different era. Color me skeptical.

    1. We still have more than 5 months to go to the election. I dare not think of what we’ll have to endure between now and Election Day. But if I could afford a 6-month sabbatical somewhere else, I’d be outta here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s