Michael Kinsley Attacks the New Newsweek, and We Feel Bad About It


Michael Kinsley got dumped by Time and he is bitter. He was hoping Jon Meacham’s newly revamped Newsweek would blow his former employer away, but it’s not good enough, and he is disappointed. He’s also a little bit angry, which is why, perhaps, he has written a 2,000-plus-word takedown of Newsweek on the website of a third news magazine, the New Republic. In it, he praises Meacham as a “very smart and thoughtful guy, which in my experience is not necessarily true of all newsmagazine editors,” and then goes on to shred Meacham’s editorial decisions and his own cover story on Barack Obama, which he calls “phony,” and “comically lame.” He gets off some good zingers:

He says he wants “provocative (but not partisan) arguments.” Which would be what? “Let’s paint the Capitol dome dark brown”? Or, “Try cooked carrots — they’re not too bad”?

Ha! But overall, the whole thing just makes us feel bad.

Ha! But overall, the whole thing just makes us feel bad.

We feel bad for Newsweek, because Kinsley is right. We feel bad for Kinsley, for writing way too many paragraphs about a picture of Miss California in a white bikini, just like, returning to it over and over again. But mostly we feel bad for ourselves, and other readers, because we have been made witness, yet again, to the ugly spectacle of one old magazine dude attacking another. We understand that this is innate behavior in media. That it is natural for them to play rough with each other like this. But at this point, as the island that everyone in media is on grows ever more hot and crowded and the amount of resources keeps shrinking, it just feels untoward. Worse: Like the media version of Lord of the Flies. Please, gentlemen. You’re civilized people. Stop gnawing one another’s limbs.

Backward Runs ‘Newsweek’ [New Republic]