Newsweek's 'Gay President' Cover a Gift for Andrew Sullivan, Capturing His Emotional Intensity at 'Moral Liberation'

On Monday afternoon, CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield asked Newsweek director of editorial operations Mark Miller about Newsweek’s “First Gay President” cover. He denied it when Banfield asked if they were trying to “notch it up a bit” after Time’s provocative breast-feeding cover came out.

She also asked if dumb Newsweek readers would actually believe Obama was revealed as homosexual. It turns out the cover was meant to capture the kind of tears-of-joy emotional intensity that writer Andrew Sullivan was feeling as an affirmed gay man. How any of this psychotherapy in print relates to the magazine formerly matching the name “Newsweek” is anyone’s guess:

MILLER: What we wanted to do with this piece, because we knew with Andrew Sullivan writing, and being the author of it, and Andrew, as you know, is one of the chief intellectual authors of the idea that same-sex marriage is actually a conservative idea.

What we wanted to do -- so we knew that this piece would mean a great deal to Andrew personally and professionally. And so what we were trying to do in capturing that kind of intensity in the argument, the writer was, to have a column -- a cover image that would also be
intense in the emotions that it evokes.

And it's an allusion to Toni Morrison's piece in "The New Yorker" which was edited by Tina Brown at that time that Bill Clinton was the first black president.

That was also ludicrous. Tina Brown is doubling down on ludicrous, which is not aytpical. This is how liberals pay tribute to each other: “You love and ‘get’ blacks so much that you’re actually a black president even if you’re not....You love and ‘get’ gays so much that you’re actually a gay president even if you’re not.”

This certainly is what liberal media scolds used to call “a journalism of assertion rather than a journalism of verification.” The sappy attention-seeking liberal states something untrue on its face to create a stir. Why liberals aren’t more critical of Tina Brown’s “journalism” is proof of how it takes ideology more seriously than accuracy.

That said, it’s somehow perfect that a snobbish liberal like Ashleigh Banfield in her no-doubt-expensive specs is wondering about the idiots at the supermarket in Oklahoma who might think Obama has outed himself and will start dating men:

BANFIELD: It's definitely provocative. I certainly get the message. But I live and breathe news every day. I even understand the innuendo and the arcane aspects to these covers and these stories. Are you the least a bit concerned that the average person who has got a busy day dealing with kids walks by a newsstand and is misconstrues that this is actually a gay man who has now come out of the closet and is our president? And I don't think that is overstepping to ask that question.

MILLER: I don't think anyone is confused about Barack Obama's heterosexuality. And I think --

BANFIELD: They're concerned about whether he's a Christian or Muslim despite ad nauseam people telling people he's a citizen of this country and he's a Christian. And yet they're still confused about that. Why do you think it's such a silly suggestion that a magazine cover
like that might have people thinking, ‘Wow, I didn't know that?’

MILLER: Well, if they think that, then they will open the magazine and read the piece, we hope --

BANFIELD: Let's hope.

MILLER: ... and understand what our argument was. Our view is that our readers are smart enough to get the reference here, that he's embraced a fundamental aspect of gay rights and, in doing so, has become such a supporter that this kind of cover is understandable.

In her column at the front of Newsweek, Tina Brown called the president's proclamation "a moment of moral liberation -- not just for Obama but for America." (Urp.) Andrew Sullivan closed out his article with this reverie:

I have always sensed that he intuitively understands gays and our predicament—because it so mirrors his own. And he knows how the love and sacrifice of marriage can heal, integrate, and rebuild a soul. The point of the gay-rights movement, after all, is not about helping people be gay. It is about creating the space for people to be themselves. This has been Obama’s life’s work. And he just enlarged the space in this world for so many others, trapped in different cages of identity, yearning to be released and returned to the families they love and the dignity they deserve.

PS: Newsweek has posted its alternative Obama's gay moment covers.

Tim Graham's picture

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