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.


Ed Schultz fights for working women and working men

First, of course, the comments Ed Schultz recently made about Laura Ingraham were tasteless and offensive to women. There is no doubt about it. A strong and humble apology by Ed was required, and given, and accepted by Ingraham. Good.

What I want to emphasize here is that Schultz is one of the most committed fighters anywhere in the media for working women and working men. Day after day, month after month, year after year, Ed has championed jobs for Americans, better healthcare for Americans and equal justice for Americans.


Netanyahu, Perry, Trump and Palin

Did MSM really think that Donald Trump would go away because an elderly correspondent called him a “racist”? How did it work out back in June 2009, when David Letterman called Sarah Palin a “slut”?

Donald Trump, interviewed by Neil Cavuto this week, had the same steam in his walk. He came across with ideas that are not coming up with the usual “establishment” candidates. They are powerful ideas, and they are ideas that will be heard and taken seriously.


MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: A cable star with substance

Don't miss the Friday Washington Post profile of MSNBC's primetime host Lawrence O'Donnell, whom I would call the prime time star with substance. I told someone at MSNBC recently that I was going to write a piece similar the Post's. I'll give kudos to the Post (a rarity for me) for beating me to the punch.

What makes O'Donnell so good? Above all, when he lambastes the right, and Fox News, he does so from a position of substance based on his long high-level experience. He usually avoids the "why the left hates the right,” "why the right hates the left” and the latest gibberish from politicians and insiders that makes so much of "cable news" so similar to when one makes love to oneself with one's pitching hand.


Gore blasts Murdoch

Former Vice President Al Gore has blasted Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. for removing Current TV from Sky Italia. Gore charges that this is an abuse of power triggered by Current TV hiring Keith Olbermann for his long-awaited new show that will begin next month.

Gore's charge rings true. I do not have the smoking gun, but it is outrageous that Murdoch or News Corp. would remove Current TV for any reason. The Italian government should look into this matter.


Matt Drudge, the Great Communicator

Today The New York Times paid homage to Matt Drudge. The Times is making the point I have made repeatedly in the past, where I have suggested that (for better or worse) Matt Drudge has more influence on American media than any other single media figure.

Here's another wrinkle. According to the Times, 15 percent of the total traffic on is originally generated by Drudge. Think about it. Perhaps the Washington Post Co. should pay Drudge royalities equal to 15 percent of its advertising revenue.

My long-term focus on Drudge has been misunderstood by a number of Drudge critics, and a number of my critics. Some say I am jealous. Of course I am! Others say I fawn over Drudge. Of course I don't. I have long been a critic of Drudge.


Is the press finally waking up?

The president brought forth his birth certificate not because he was more “adult” than Donald Trump but because the press took Trump’s cue and for two days straight followed up. Where is the long form? Why don’t you deliver? Why didn’t you deliver two years ago when you were required? It was an uh-oh moment. They, the administrators, sensed a sea change in the press. No longer would Nobel Prizes be given out after eight days in office. No longer would the most fawning and accommodating journalists get the Pulitzers. There is even the complaint by a Washington Post columnist that the “journalist prom” on Saturday night — hosted by Hollywood celebs and lobbyists and influence-seekers — got out of control.


Al Gore and Keith Olbermann: A moment of truth for cable news

I begin with this: Except for CNN, which makes an honest effort to report real news, cable news in America has let the nation down. If Joe McCarthy had a reality television show on NBC, I wonder if NBC would have promoted McCarthy then the same way it promotes Donald Trump and his campaign for birthers and bigots now?

Cable news in general has turned American democracy into a freak show, where bigots and nuts receive a free megaphone, where shills and hacks parade to the cameras to treat the audience like idiots dishing out spin that many of them don't even believe, where serious issues are not treated in serious ways while celebrity fluff is force-fed to small audiences who often turn elsewhere for news and information.


Brad Watson, 2011, Mario Savio, 1964

And the Mario Savio “wake up America” award goes this year to Brad Watson, a reporter who had the audacity to ask Barack Obama why he was so unpopular in Texas. When the pharaoh unclipped his mic, he bruskly said to the reporter, “Let me finish my answers next time we do an interview, all right?”

The run-up to the 2008 election may in hindsight be seen as journalism’s darkest hour in recent times. But there was something happening in the global psyche then, evident in the giving of a Nobel Peace Prize to a president who had only been in office eight days. Even the recipient felt it was absurd. But he didn’t give it back.


What the stories should have said

WASHINGTON — In a stunning rebuke to President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 111 House Democrats voted to kill a budget compromise that funded the government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year.

Steny Hoyer (Md.), the House minority whip, supported the president’s budget, as did 80 other Democrats, far less than half of the Democratic Caucus.  

The measure, which pays for homeland security, national defense, food safety and education support, was supported by an overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans and easily passed the Senate. The president signed the measure Thursday night.