Ben Affleck, like most Hollywood stars, thinks that magazine covers really matter. Last week, he was criticizing the TARP bill to a reporter for Politico and said that “Newsweek, I feel like, is basically culpable for the first [$350 billion],” referring to the weekly’s “King Henry” cover about Henry Paulson, which he called a “hagiography” as well as “presumptuous.” “I was surprised,” says the story’s author, Daniel Gross, who is, he noted, a fan of Good Will Hunting. “We called [Paulson] King Henry because, at that moment, he was the absolute monarch of the financial system,” he says. “He was the one deciding who should live and who should die.” And in September, it seemed like Paulson was making the right decisions. “Everyone forgets this, but when it happened, people thought it was a great idea to let Lehman Brothers fail.” Paulson’s bungled handling of the TARP happened later. Besides, “would that a Newsweek cover story mattered so much that it could sway policy and move markets,” says Gross. “It’s like blaming Gigli for Hollywood’s problems with DVD residuals.”
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