Ed Driscoll

Newsweek: The Last Days

In late 2008, Newsweek, then under control of the Washington Post, decided to make its audience as selective as possible, Spinal Tap style, by becoming, as Andrew Ferguson wrote at the Weekly Standard, “a liberal opinion magazine written by liberals who don’t want to admit they’re liberals.” In early 2009, the magazine decided to go on the record, declaring, “We Are All Socialists Now” on one of its last memorable covers. (We can assume by inference that that statement included most of the gang at its then-parent company as well.) In 2010, those socialists received a miniature version of Obama’s “stimulus” program, with the Post offloading its sinking enterprise to Sidney Harman (and his wife, then a liberal Democrat Congresswoman in California) for a buck. With Sidney having gone off to the great hi-fi shop in the sky the following year, Newsweek soldiered on with Tina Brown as editor, producing wafer-thin print editions with such cutting edge cover stories as Princess Di, Hillary Clinton, and Woody Allen.

Fortunately, it will soon be safe to return to your supermarket checkout aisle. As it must to all dinosaurs, death will be forthcoming for Citizen Newsweek:

Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp which recently acquired sole control of Newsweek, said that a plan to end its print edition is coming as soon as this fall. His comments came in IAC’s quarterly earnings call and were first reported in a two-sentence story by Bloomberg News’s Sarah Frier (“Newsweek, the 79-year-old magazine, will eventually transition to an online-only publication”) and then in a tweet from her colleague Edmund Lee (“Barry Diller says by September-October, plan for digital only Newsweek will be announced”). The first actual quote from Diller came later in a post by Politico’s Dylan Byers: “The transition will happen. The transition to online from hard print will take place. We’re examining all of our options.”

That doesn’t sound like the print edition is going to end imminently, and an IAC spokesperson followed up with Byers with a statement confirming the September or October target for the announcement of a plan to transition to digital.

The online version of the Daily Beast will soldier on, but to understand how far the mighty have fallen, recall John Podhoretz’s article on the rarefied air that weekly news magazine journalists breathed at the genre’s zenith a few decades ago. Is Time-Warner-CNN-HBO investigating a similar online-only option for its weekly opinion magazine, which was once, nine decades ago, the inventor of the genre of weekly news magazine, now rendered anathema by the speed of the Internet? Presumably.

Awaiting the approach of the afterlife, Newsweek is whiling its time trying to relive its former parent’s glory days. Then: Deep Throat and All the President’s Men.

Now: All the Chicken Restaurant’s Whistle-blowers, as Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes at Get Religion.com:

Stories tend to die over the weekend. With all the Colorado shooting stories, the important news from the presidential campaigns, I think surely the media will move on to the next hot trend. But no! It doesn’t stop! It snowballs into something bigger. You either LOVE Chick-fil-A or you HATE Chick-fil-A, you can’t separate the product from the person behind it. It’s like Tim Tebow. We can’t simply evaluate him as a good or bad football player. We have to know everything where he stands because he could tear the nation into pieces. Oh my gosh. It’s as if the media has stuck its audience’s heads into a toilet for an information swirlie. But don’t let me make broad, sweeping generalizations about the horrifying nature of this story. Let me offer Case #1:

Newsweek somehow allows one of its employees to write this sentence:

Chick-Fil-A came under criticism this month after a report by the organization Equality Matters revealed that the company donated around $2 million to antigay Christian organizations in 2010. “Guilty as charged,” the fast-food chain’s president Dan Cathy said over allegations that his company is antigay (“We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”).

So. Here we are. Tumblr, listen up.

We’re hoping to find a current or former employee of Chick-Fil-A who might want to spill the beans on life inside the alleged antigay company.

“We’re hoping to find a current or former employee of Chick-Fil-A who might want to spill the beans on life inside the alleged antigay company.”

If that’s you, or you know someone who might want to talk to us, please email [email protected] And if you’d like to help spread the word of our search, a reblog or a tweet would be most appreciated.

Initially, I thought, OK, please let that person be the 20-year-old summer intern going rogue on this thing we call Tumblr.

No! It’s not! It’s Newsweek’s veteran social media editor. Please stop! Do not destroy journalism through Tumblr and reveal your biases. Do not show how blatantly slanted your outlet is, at least keep it internal. The hilarious part about social media is that you often get to see what reporters really think, who they really love, who they really hate. Yes, a religion is often the brunt of it. God forbid you believe anything specific and let it influence how you understand the world.

[Quick update: The Atlantic Wire is reporting that Newsweek will probably end its print edition as soon as this fall. I really hate it when media outlets die in some form, but truly: who is running that ship into the ground?]

Rod Dreher adds:

This is all about some fake-journalism scheme dreamed up by a few extremely parochial, bourgeois anti-Christian bigots who work in the Newsweek/Daily Beast building in lower Manhattan. It’s not about reforming a great social wrong. It’s about destroying the reputation of a restaurant whose owners are traditional Christians who share the views on marriage of half the country. This has happened before.

To be clear, if someone wants to boycott a business for any reason, that’s their right. The media’s distortion of this story, and Newsweek’s egregious and sleazy advocacy journalism, is what especially ticks me off.

Advocacy journalism is what drove Newsweek down its current path — recall in 2005 when they published, then walked-back their infamous “Koran in the Can” story on Gitmo, which was the mile marker that foreshadowed the path Newsweek would increasingly trod. This is what it brought them to: screwing a fast-food chain to help further slow the economy currently under the stewardship of the president they’re eager to reelect in November.

Exit Question: Is the $1.00 check or dollar bill that the late Sidney Harman paid the Washington Post to take this debacle off their hands framed somewhere on a wall in their office?

Update: “Tina Brown to Newsweek Staff: ‘Don’t Worry, We Can Lose Millions Forever’ — Or words to that effect.”