Newsweek Hates Fox News: Cover Story Blames Them for New Era of 'Big Lie Politics' About Obama

Newsweek has once again gone over the top in their support of Barack Obama, but at least the cover reflects that Obama's popularity is collapsing. It's called the "The Making of a Terrorist-Coddling, Warmongering, Wall Street-Loving, Socialistic, Godless, Muslim President." There's an asterisk that leads to the note "who isn't actually any of these things."

Perhaps to be true to their fanboy image, they should just leave that Obama photo on their logo every week. Liberals hate the cover already. Take Michael Shaw on The Huffington Post: "So, the question is, how much more is this desperate-to-stay-in-business "news" publication going to pander to the haters and the far-right crazies as we hurtle through the mid-term sprint?"

The cover story by Jonathan Alter comes with the whining subhead "Obama’s enemies have painted him as an alien threat. Can he fight the flight from facts?"

His enemies—and even some of his ostensible allies—have been busy for three years painting Obama as some kind of alien threat. His name, race, exotic upbringing, and determination to reach out to moderate Muslims have given those who would delegitimize him a fresh palette of dark colors. The caricatures are almost comical, as the president himself recognizes. “Some folks say, ‘Well, you know, he’s not as cool as he was,’?” Obama said at a May fundraiser in California. “?‘When they had all the posters around and everything.’ Now I’ve got a Hitler mustache on the posters. That’s quite a change.”

In some ways, it has always been with us, going back to the 18th-century calumny of James Callender against John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. More recently, the Rev. Jerry Falwell sponsored a film that falsely accused President Clinton of ordering murders and dealing drugs.

What’s changed about politics as a contact sport is the reach of the lies. With the exception of Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic “radio priest” of the 1930s, reactionaries haven’t generally had big audiences. But now the cranks who once could do little more than write ranting letters to the editor on the red ribbons of their typewriters (loaded with exclamation points and in all caps, of course) can spread their venom virally, with the help of right-wing billionaires underwriting their organizations. And while the cable network they watch, Fox News, might not actively promote the idea that the president is a foreign-born Muslim, it does little to knock it down. Fox often covers Obama’s place of birth and religion more as matters of opinion than of fact.

Translation: Fox News may not spread lies all the time, but they're clearly not doing enough to please the White House by sounding exactly like Newsweek. Again, this is a terrible standard for Alter to claim for Newsweek. It's quite easy to recall how Newsweek would do anything to smear a Republican. In 1991, Alter and Clift endorsed a Kitty Kelley standard of truth for Republican presidents: if a mere fraction of anonymously sourced nastiness about the Reagans was true, the Reagans were a historical nightmare: 

 "If privacy ends where hypocrisy begins, Kitty Kelley's steamy expose of Nancy Reagan is a contribution to contemporary history." -- Newsweek Washington reporter Eleanor Clift, April 15.

"If even a small fraction of the material amassed and borrowed here turns out to be true, Ronald Reagan and his wife had to be among the most hypocritical people ever to live in the White House. Anyone who vaguely followed the events of his administration already knew that. But millions of others still don't. While Kitty Kelley's sensationalism may undermine their ability to find and believe the truth, her popularity may encourage them to explore more of the real history of that era without her." -- Newsweek media reporter Jonathan Alter, April 22 issue.

In short, the idea that Newsweek has any ground at all to stand on in the "flight from facts" narrative, or "smearing a president" narrative, is ludicrous. Look at the facts. Newsweek's take on the facts is transparently partisan. Any objective media watcher would say it's at least as partisan as Alter thinks Fox News is.

Tim Graham's picture