Newsweek Buries 2008 with Obit Bias

December 22nd, 2008 5:09 PM

In its year-ending double issue Newsweek couldn't resist injecting liberal media bias into its mini obituaries entitled "Remember Them Well."

Yet the newsmagazine seemed to forget, perhaps intentionally, the left-of-center politics of prominent liberals profiled while using terms like "far-right" to describe the politics of deceased conservatives such as Paul Weyrich.

But wait, there's more, Newsweek used the occasion to link the civil rights struggles of the 1960s with the fight for same-sex marriage and to approve the first President Bush's breaking of the "no new taxes" pledge.

Take Studs Terkel, the hard-left Communist journalist who passed away at age 96. Newsweek ignored his political leanings, euphemizing them by referencing his "working-class empathy and patient, guileless style [that] helped a confused nation speak its mind."

By contrast, here's how the World Socialist Web Site eulogized him:

A man of the Left but a dedicated reformist, Terkel was the kind of populist radical who saw liberalism and the intervention of a beneficent government, as the salvation of the underdog. He was devoted to Franklin Roosevelt, wept when he died, and spent the rest of his life working for a return of the New Deal.


He ended his life looking forward excitedly to the election of Barack Obama as US president. The above mentioned memorial meeting was sponsored by the left-liberal Nation magazine, with which Terkel was long associated. A speaker declared, that Terkel would have said the president-elect “needs to be pushed to launch a new New Deal.”

Studs Terkel’s death coincides not only with the return of the Democrats to the White House and the election of the first African-American US president, but also with a 21st century economic crisis that is increasing looking like it has no precedent, not even to the Great Depression that shaped Terkel. The valuable and lively elements in Terkel’s contributions to social and oral history need to be distinguished from the bankrupt political perspective of pleading for liberal reform.

To the right of Terkel but definitely left-of-center, Newsweek had kind words of actor Paul Newman yet none mentioned his politics. Yet actor Charlton Heston was labeled a "darling of the right and [former] president of the NRA."

Chessmaster Bobby Fischer was tagged "anti-American and an anti-Semite," which is an understatement given his gleeful reaction to the 9/11 attacks:

In his interview on September 11 with Radio Bombo in Baguio City, Mr Fischer said: "This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all.

"I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US.

"I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US."

Mr Fischer, 58, also attacked Israel and "Jews" who he claimed were responsible for "bringing" the attack on the World Trade Centre. He gave the interview because he is a friend of Pablo Mercado, the station manager. They met through their mutual friend Eugene Torre, the Filipino chess grandmaster.

Newsweek editors also used the obit feature to put the thumb on the scale for gay marriage and tax hikes.

  • In marking the passing of Mildred Loving, whose 1967 case before the Supreme Court "struck down the last segregation law," Virginia's ban on interracial marriage, Newsweek noted that Loving had recently "spoke[n] out for the rights of gays to marry, eloquently passing the baton to the next generation."
  • Newsweek used the obit for former OMB director Richard Darman to applaud the elder president Bush's broken "no new taxes" pledge. Noting that Darman had "engineered the 1990 tax compromise" that broke the pledge. Although "Bush later said that was the biggest mistake of his tenure... economists now think that deal led to years of surpluses and prosperity."