Gutter journalism at Newsweek

If you ever needed a reason for why news magazines are starving for attention and consumer dollars, just stroll down the aisle of your favorite supermarket and you can judge this industry by its cover(s) alone. They’re pathetic. They continually fight against their very core to deliver cutting-edge journalism that compiles the top stories of the week, and instead look increasingly like their neighboring World Wrestling Entertainment pubs.

I couldn’t believe what I saw last night while in my area bookstore. I had heard about Newsweek’s controversial cover of Mitt Romney, and a colleague remarked how “tasteless” it was, but it didn’t hit home until I actually saw it.

There on the cover I saw some gangly body with the head of Mitt Romney photo-shopped on top. The idea was to borrow a theme from the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” and affix some political twist with a back-handed compliment that all those darn Mormons are just so successful these days … What gives?? As if anyone outside of Manhattan would pick up on such stupidity.

This is beyond poor taste or junior varsity decision-making by Newsweek’s editors. They were clearly trying to make a statement — to mock the Republican presidential front-runner and remind everyone who didn’t already know that Mitt Romney was some “crazy” Mormon.

Why is it that Newsweek and other mainstream media publications can feign outrage and trot out all sorts of “-isms” when it suits their agenda, yet it’s perfectly acceptable to mock others as they deem? Will Newsweek’s editors next run a photo of Rick Santorum on a Catholic cross with some cute headline of his messianic drive toward the White House? Where is the line? And who at Newsweek gets to decide?

The sad commentary here is that Newsweek is now notorious for such infantile moves. And its chief target during the past few years has been Sarah Palin. The magazine’s disdain for the Alaskan governor is palpable. On its Oct. 13, 2008, issue, Newsweek ran an extreme close-up shot of Palin on its cover. Only that one was not photo-shopped, revealing less-than-flattering views of her deep pores, stray facial hair and other blemishes a woman would never want shared. Ever see that with Hillary Clinton when she was running? Let’s put it this way, if the same photo was taken of Vice President Biden, we could probably count the number of ear hairs the man had, as well as how many of his teeth were beginning to yellow.

Not to be outdone, Newsweek followed up with a mid-November 2009 cover of Palin showing her legs in some high-cut shorts. The shot was actually not taken by Newsweek, but instead bootlegged off a cover shoot Palin did for Runner’s World magazine.

This is a world-class news magazine. Why does it need to stoop to such lows to advance its agenda and tear down conservatives?

Try and think of one shot of President Obama on the cover of a magazine in an equally unflattering light. You can’t.

The Newsweek Romney cover is beyond the pale. Draw a parallel to our sitting president if you disagree.

Would anyone cry foul if Obama were running for president and Newsweek depicted him in the colorful Maasai tribal garb of his father’s African homeland, Kenya? You get the idea and the stereotype formed there. No one would dare accept such an overtly racist depiction. And yet Newsweek shamelessly bashes a man for his religious faith, and we’re expected to view that as all in good taste?