Rolling Stone Publisher Admits He's An Obama Campaign Donor

Can a publisher, editor, and owner of magazines be any more biased than proudly admitting on national television that he's contributed to Barack Obama's campaign?

While you ponder, consider that on Sunday, the publisher and editor of Rolling Stone -- who just so happens to also own Men's Journal and Us Weekly -- told CNN's Howard Kurtz that he's given money to the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee.

In fact, Jann Wenner did so without batting an eye in an interview aired on "Reliable Sources":

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Jann Wenner, the publisher and editor of "Rolling Stone," is a big Obama fan. Make that a huge Obama fan. The magazine has endorsed the Democratic candidate, put him on the cover, and this week put him on the cover again, an incredibly positive photo matched by the positive interview inside.

I spoke to Wenner earlier from New York.


KURTZ: Jann Wenner, welcome.

JANN WENNER, CO-FOUNDER, "ROLLING STONE": Thank you. Good to be here.

KURTZ: Now, this is the second time you've had Barack Obama on the cover of "Rolling Stone," a glowing cover portrait with no headlines, no words. What message is that cover trying to send?

WENNER: History in the making. History is here. There's not -- you know, the statement in and of itself is so powerful that it needn't be elaborated.

KURTZ: Now, in the interview you asked Obama about Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Springsteen, rap, what's his favorite Stones song -- which, for the record, is "Give me Shelter" -- what's on his iPod.

The guy is running for president. Why spend so much time on his musical taste?

WENNER: Well, I mean, for one thing, that was the smallest part of the interview, was the musical stuff. . But I think you learn something about the individual and about the person and about how intelligent they are according to their musical tastes. But I think especially you learn how connected are they to what's going on in culture around them.

Yes, musical taste is clearly the most important thing to consider in a presidential candidate when the nation is at war, oil is at $140 a barrel, and America's banking system is crumbling under a housing and lending crisis. But I digress:

KURTZ: Well, certainly culture is one way we make judgments about public figures.

Now, you did ask Senator Obama about the war on drugs. You asked him about gay marriage. And you also asked him this -- you told him, "There's little doubt that you're going to be swift-boated in this campaign, and in the past you said Democrats have cowered in the face of such attacks."

Why did you phrase it that way?

WENNER: Well, it was spontaneous phrasing, but I think we've seen a record of behavior in the United States Senate. I think we saw some of it in the original Swift Boat accounts, where they are afraid to stand up to Bush or to Rove because they are afraid that they are going to be tagged as cowards or bad on national security or left wing or liberal, something like that. And I call that cowering, you know, and I think that the public doesn't respect cowering or want cowering.

Hmmm. So you think that's why Sen. Kerry refused to release all of his military medical records in 2004, Jann? You think his concealing such information was due to a concern that he'd be tagged as a coward or bad on national security? Or, might it have shown that he was lying about such things, and the records would have proved him wrong and his critics right?

Ever consider that was the reason, Jann, and not Kerry's concerns about being tagged a coward?

KURTZ: Now, last week, Jann Wenner, you had Barack and Michelle on the cover of your magazine "US Weekly." This week, of course, on "Rolling Stone."

What role does "Rolling Stone" play in a presidential campaign? Is there a special connection here with younger voters that you feel is going to help Obama?

WENNER: Well, I think after all these years with the kind of coverage and (INAUDIBLE) we've had in our history, and people have come to respect "Rolling Stone's" point of view, our coverage, our access. And I think that we are able to articulate for our readers a lot of ideas and thoughts that they have.

We have a very -- we do have our very particular constituency that is, you know, either culturally-oriented or baby boom-oriented. But I think we have a tremendous amount of readership among the press and among professional politicians.

So I think we kind of have an outside influence, and I think in this interview with Obama what you get out of it is something you don't really generally get out of interviews with him, which is a sense of who he is as a person and the way he thinks, you know, and how he feels about, you know, slightly more subtle things. And an opportunity just to hear his voice outside of the response to, you know, the kind of day-to-day stuff about whatever the current brouhaha in the campaign is, or questions that, you know, are about an issue today but die tomorrow. But, you know, really about who you are as a human being.

KURTZ: Well, certainly interviews about policy positions and polls do tend to provide very similar answers, and I guess you were trying to get beyond that.

WENNER: Exactly.

KURTZ: But you closed the interview -- you closed the interview with these words: "Good luck. We are following you daily with great hope and admiration."

It sounds like you're getting ready to write him a check.

WENNER: Already done that.

KURTZ: You're an Obama donor.

WENNER: I put that in there because I -- I left that in there because of his answer to that thing, in which he says, "Don't worry, we'll get this done."
Hmmm. I guess the reader couldn't tell just how much in the tank for Obama Wenner and Rolling Stone were without such information. Silly me:
KURTZ: Now, if you didn't consider his musical choices to be cool, would you reconsider your enthusiasm for Senator Obama?

WENNER: If he was an Abba fan, honestly, yes. I mean, look, the guy knows his Dylan really well.

There's a particular type of person who knows Dylan really well and likes Dylan. To like that kind of lyrics, to like the statements of Dylan, to like that kind of voice, it's not being a cultural snob. It's that he is at a -- as I said, an intellectual and cultural level, and he has a -- shares a kind of mutuality of insight with Dylan, who I think is, you know, the leading literary figure of our times, you know, and one of the leading literary figures of the century.

To appreciate that and get it at that level I think is important. I think that sensibility is what I'm looking for.
Well, I have to agree here, for I couldn't vote for anybody that liked Abba. And I can't argue with Dylan's lyrics. But his voice? Sorry, Jann, you lost me there:
KURTZ: All right. So apparently he passed the Wenner test.

Last question. In the past you've interviewed John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton for "Rolling Stone" cover stories. I don't see any Republicans on that list. If John McCain called you up and said, "I would like to come and sit down with you and be on the cover of 'Rolling Stone,'" what would be your reaction?

WENNER: Well, I think we might take him up on it. We had Bush on the cover recently. It was a cartoon of him sitting on a stool with a dunce hat on his head, and it said "The Worst President in American History?" by...

KURTZ: Not exactly the kind of cover that you did for Obama.

WENNER: Well, I'm just trying to say that McCain will have to take his chances when he comes.

KURTZ: But you would be open to interviewing John McCain?

WENNER: I would, very much so.

KURTZ: All right. I'll pass the message to his campaign.

Jann Wenner, thanks very much for joining us.


Liberal media bias? What liberal media bias?

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