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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Newsweek’

Newsweek/Daily Beast Ending ‘Top 50 Rabbis’ List

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Newsweek/The Daily Beast said it will stop publishing its Top 50 Rabbis list, an annual feature since 2007.

The decision, first reported in the Forward, was explained by Gary Ginsberg, Michael Lynton and Abigail Pogrebin, the list’s authors, who wrote that the list “started to carry too much weight for too many people.”

“Some rabbis felt personally wounded when they weren’t mentioned,” they wrote. “Others told us it adversely affected their career opportunities. We started receiving emphatic pleas from certain rabbis to add them to the roster (or move them higher in the rankings). Some of those rabbis enlisted friends or colleagues to lobby us insistently. Some even came to our offices with personal pleas to be included, others to offer prayers for our souls.”

The authors said they had been “queasy about ranking rabbis,” yet followed the advice of magazine editors who told them that “rankings matter: if you want people to pay attention, you need a scorecard.”

While the list “offered a valuable, unusual snapshot of the Jewish landscape,” they wrote, it “has been misconfigured into an unhealthy contest which outweighs its potential contribution.”

The End of the Alternative Media

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-end-of-alternative-media.html

The death of the Village Voice has drawn out a coterie of mourners bowing their heads over the venerable radical rag, but their orations at its funeral are completely wasted. The death of the Voice is not due to mismanagement, the right wing or its complicity in human trafficking. After all, its former competitor, the New York Press, which forced it to go free instead of charging a buck fifty, died fairly recently. The end of the Village Voice has to be seen in the context of the death of alternative media.

The passing of the Village Voice, its thick greasy pages smudged with desperate cries for attention in between glossy cigarette ads and phone sex ads, also coincides with the passing of the bohemian nature of the East Village, now little more than tall glowering condos and coffee shops. To those residents who showed up there in the 70′s and 80′s bearing art school portfolios and a burning desire to be part of the “Scene”, it’s one more triumph of the capitalist running dogs over the “People”.

But the real reason that the Village Voice is dead is because the alternative media is dead and the alternative media is dead because there is nothing for it to be an alternative to. New Yorkers can just as easily read shrill rants about the NYPD in the Daily News, pretentious movie reviews for artsy films at The Onion and leftist denunciations of the War on Terror in the New York Times.

The way that the Village Voice used to cover Republicans is now the way that every media outlet, but the handful that aren’t part of the liberal collective, covers Republicans. Every mainstream media outlet is opposed to fighting terrorism, opposed to the police and opposed to any notion of balance in reporting. And every outlet is churning out the same tired 24/7 coverage of something provocative a Republican allegedly said because every outlet wants to be the Village Voice, the ink-stained pamphleteer on the corner screaming about capitalist pigs before heading off to a concert at CBGB’s, also as dead as the Village Voice and the rest of the East Village.

Newsweek, once the paragon of middlebrow inoffensiveness, now does the kind of covers that the Village Voice used to do. It still hasn’t run a picture of Bush drinking the blood out of the green neck of the Statue of Liberty, but, if Romney wins, you can expect that as the March cover. And by then even that might be considered tame.

If anyone deserves credit for killing the Village Voice, it’s George W. Bush, who was its unwitting cover boy more often than Obama has appeared on the cover of Essence. Under Bush the entire media became alternative and the alternative media became supplementary to requirements. When mainstream newspapers give positive reviews to books and movies that envision Bush’s assassination, cheerlead anti-war rallies run by militant Trotskyites and demand unilateral surrender in the War on Terror what possible territory is left for the alternative media to explore?

All that was left for the alternative media was to run yet another profile of a new bar where people drink the tears of Ecuadoran children purchased through fair trade while looking at themselves doing it in video monitors as an artistic commentary on capitalism. And these days that’s what the internet is for. A culture eager to document itself doing everything, take photos of the food on its plate, review the movie on Twitter while watching it and run a blog about its streetcorner is in no need of an alternative paper to kludgily do these things for it at a snail’s pace.

The same forces that swamped the Village with Obama-supporting hedge fund managers who wanted a place with trendy bars that made them feel like artists also killed the Village Voice. The death of the mainstream meant the embrace of the alternative. With no standards left in any paper, every paper and magazine became the Village Voice, but with a subscription price and better quality control. The Village Voice became a classifieds section for people looking to rent a room, find a concert or rape a Ukrainian teenager– and Craigslist was busy destroying that business model.

No Country for Old Incumbents

Monday, June 4th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/no-country-for-old-incumbents.html

A storm is not a good time to be at the wheel of a ship and a worldwide economic disaster is not a good time to be at the wheel of the ship of state. Hard times are supposed to bring great men to the fore, but instead we have some of the sorriest men in history trying to find the wheel, sleeping off a bender in their cabins or debating whether a wheel even exists.

Obama is bad, but he’s not exactly up against rival statesmen. After parading around with a one-man cult of personality, launching international projects with no purpose, and displaying all the symptoms of a Napoleon complex, without a world famous conqueror in sight, Sarkozy’s only reelection platform was that the alternative to him would be worse. He was right. But you can hardly blame quite a few Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who stayed home, rather than hold their noses and vote for him.

In the UK, Cameron cut the military and launched a war. Labour’s career idiot, Ed Milband, now has a higher approval rating than the Prime Minister. Cameron has the same reelection platform as Sarkozy and he’s also right, but that won’t help him when the public gets the chance to cast their vote. And the vote will be the international refrain, translated many ways in many languages, but that always means, “Throw out the bums.”

Russia has become a virtual armed camp for the sole purpose of keeping Putin in power. The man who successfully set up his own Stalinesque cult of personality, now has to use extraordinary measures to protect himself from his own people, who don’t care so much that he stole the election, but who are sick and tired of the spectacle of Vladimir and his ten-thousand good friends from the Committee for State Security, better known by three ominous letters, gorging themselves on the best things in life while everyone else suffers.

China’s rulers should be paying careful attention to Moscow. If the express train of Western exports ever falters, what they will face will make Tiananmen Square look like a fond memory. The Princes of the PRC won’t be up against a bunch of idealistic students, but the farmers whose land they stole, the workers whose children they killed and that rising middle-class which tasted prosperity only to have it snatched away. If that day comes, they won’t be stopped by tanks, and the army may just take their side.

The American media has become virtually indistinguishable from the Russian and Chinese media in its hysterical support for the regime and vindictive smears of opponents. The only difference between Newsweek, Pravda and Xinhua is their level of sophistication. Pravda and Xinhua have never been anything more than vulgar organs of the regime, but the American media is descending into savagery while leaving behind a legacy of civilization. Like a citizen turned cannibal, it still has some of the cultural trappings of its past, but it’s discarding them as quickly as Newsweek can photoshop new covers. Like the Russian media, the favorite topic of its American counterparts is the inscrutable divinity of its leader, who has not so much failed, as succeeded on a higher level that mere mortals – concerned with paying their bills and having a job – are not privy to. If he has failed, it’s only because of the obstructionism of the running dog Republican capitalists who would rather see the country burn than concede his unearthly genius.

The problem with propagandists is that they get so taken in by their own illusion of power, that they stop noticing when no one is paying attention to them. Barely a quarter of the country digested and accepted the swill that the media had poured out over it in ’07 and ’08. What the public noticed was that there seemed to be a consensus that the One was the one. They didn’t notice it by reading every screed that the American heirs to Goebbels were scribbling up at Time and the New York Times. Like a television that is on in the room, while you’re vacuuming or doing laundry, they noticed it mainly as background noise in their lives.

Newsweek: US Will “Look Other Way” on Israeli Strike on Iran

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Newsweek magazine quoted Pentagon officials this week saying the US will “look the other way” regarding an impending Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities and the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.  This is despite Washington’s interest in preventing warfare in the region, according to the report.

The article alleges that Mossad Director Tamir Pardo’s was sent to Washington to determine what the consequences would be for Israel if the Jewish state bombed Iran over American objections, and that Israel has shared significant details of its plans with the US.

President Obama has consistently urged Israel to delay an attack, and wait for financial sanctions to deter Iran from creating atomic weapons.

Saying No To Newsweek

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

           I’ve been reading Newsweek since 1975, when, as a yeshiva student in Israel, I subscribed in order to keep abreast of world events when otherwise not ensconced in the study of Torah. It’s been three and a half decades, and my subscription, which lapses next month, will not be renewed. The reasons are reflective of the current state of American culture and mainstream journalism.

 

            Newsweek has always been a reliably liberal publication, with a sop to the right-wing in the erudite and enlightening form of the columns of George F. Will. Indeed, Newsweek and The New York Times (I cancelled that subscription in early 2009) were windows into the liberal world and mindset, usually sophistic but necessary to illuminate the viewpoints of the opposition (in the Reagan and Bush years) and the government (Clinton and Obama administrations).

 

It’s important not to live or think in an echo chamber or to conduct one’s discourse on public issues with only like-minded thinkers. That is a sure route to intellectual stultification – or, what has transpired in the last decade and a half, people on opposite sides of the political spectrum just yelling past each other.
 
I can’t take it anymore, and it is not Newsweek’s politics but its in-your-face immorality that is so off-putting and has likely led it to the brink of bankruptcy. Its owner (the Washington Post Corporation) is looking for a buyer, its circulation has dropped precipitously, and it could very well disappear in the next few years. The ridicule of conservatives and Republicans, the genuflection before President Obama, the Israel-bashing (in the style of Haaretz, so it escapes an anti-Israel label), the unconcealed derision of religion and traditional values and the snide, snippy and sneering attitude toward Sarah Palin, et al, are all faintly tolerable, even if despicable.
 
But what is intolerable is Newsweek’s celebration of decadence and its advocacy of the overturning of the social order. Scarcely a week goes by without some crack about religion or an opinion piece denigrating traditional morality and those who live their lives accordingly.
 
A recent cover presentation touting “A Case Against Marriage” amounted to a tendentious and saddening portrayal of an allegedly “growing movement” among educated women against marriage, an institution they find irrelevant and unnecessary in their lives. The magazine cited “studies” that little accord with real life, and presented women who are unable to project the dire loneliness they will feel in years to come or who deny the obvious harm caused to children who are raised by single mothers by choice.
 
Well, it is certainly a viewpoint, but in typical Newsweek fashion no attempt was made to present the “other side” – the Case for Marriage, how or why marriage has been the bedrock of civilization and family since ancient times, and how marriage is the foundation of one’s personal happiness according to every study. No balance at all.
 
Contrast that with two other Newsweek classics – the December 2008 and January 2010 Cases for Gay Marriage. (It obviously did not suffice to share this viewpoint only once, and the latter was even a cover story.) Again, no attempt at balance, no presentation of the case why homosexual marriage is detrimental to civil society.
 
            It is not merely the debauchery, which is still just an opinion, that is killing Newsweek, but even more so the magazine’s pretense that its views reflect the coming attractions of American life. In fact, its celebration of these alternate lifestyles is an effort not to report the news or even modern social trends, but to influence those very trends – as if regularly reading about them will make them appear normal and conventional to its readership. Perhaps it does, and undoubtedly that is why its readership is disappearing faster than Obama’s popularity. But its moral stain and ethical pollution linger, like the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Fortunately, there are other vehicles from which one can receive news – real news, not the perverted versions of the liberal press – and even news with a liberal tint. It is a free society, and we are all free to read and not read what we want. We are free to employ our values when making purchases of products, books or magazines. That is what I am doing in cancelling my subscription.
 
Newsweek’s descent into the cultural sewer presages its disappearance from the American journalistic scene. When it fails, it will undoubtedly attribute its problems to the Internet and the ease of acquisition of news and information from that venue. It will claim that with news available every minute of every day in real time, there is no need for a “weekly” newsmagazine, which is dated even before it is received. That is true, but not relevant.
 
Newsweek’s failure will come about through its embrace of the unholy and ungodly as sacraments and the dissolute lifestyle as appealing and natural. It is so far gone that it is incapable of recognizing that it has become disconnected from the virtues that sustain American life. Newsweek lost me and thousands of others not because of the Internet but because of its own depravity. There are plenty of news publications that endorse traditional values – and ultimately the inculcation of good values matters much more than a shallow education about some nuances of domestic politics.
 

In the meantime, the death watch for Newsweek has begun. Good riddance.

 

  

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Yehoshua” (Gefen Publishing, 2009). He blogs at www.rabbipruzansky.com.

From Messiah To Deity

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Apparently it was not enough that many of America’s best-known journalists disgraced themselves and their profession by portraying Barack Obama during last year’s presidential campaign as a savior-like figure come to redeem a sin-sick America. Now that the Anointed One is in a position to exercise his wise and benevolent rule from Pennsylvania Avenue, it will no longer do to cast him as a mere mortal.

In case you missed it, Evan Thomas, an editor at the new, deracinated version of Newsweek, remarked earlier this month that “Obama’s standing above the country, above the world. He’s sort of God.”

Having proclaimed “The End of Christian America” in a cover story last April, it’s only understandable that Newsweek is shopping for a new deity – in this case a Supreme Being refashioned in the image of the man who’s been on the magazine’s cover so many times in the space of a year, he might as well be incorporated as the publication’s mascot/logo/figurehead.

Think of it: What the legendary image of Eustace Tilley – the fop with the monocle and top hat – has been to The New Yorker for better than eighty years, the beneficent and magnificent Obama can be to Newsweek, only where Tilley is a cartoon figure, Obama is, well, to quote Newsweek’s Thomas, “sort of God.”

If “sort of God” sounds like something of a hedge, it’s probably because your typically liberal editor of your typically liberal magazine isn’t about to prostrate himself before an all-powerful Lord of Hosts. No, something a little less imposing and far less threatening is called for – Divinity Light, if you will.

As Noemie Emery writes in The Weekly Standard,

Obama being Obama, however (and Newsweek being Newsweek), this is not quite your usual God. This is not the God of Battles, to whom Henry V prayed before Agincourt. This is not “Our fathers’ God, to Thee/Author of Liberty/to Thee we sing.” This is definitely not the God of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as this God isn’t given to trampling anything, and when it comes to the terrible swift sword, you can simply forget it. This God doesn’t do swords, much less battles. This is a modern God, a media God, a God for Whole Foods, and the Politics & Prose bookstore on upper Connecticut Avenue, a God who is into recycling. There is the God of the Old Testament, and the God of the New Testament, but this is the God of the Newsroom. Religious tradition tells us that God created man in His image, but the press has created this God in its image – diverse, multilateral, and nonconfrontational. He is cool, hip, urbane, and extremely un-Texan. He is all that the Fourth Estate values in life, and aspires to be in its own private dealings. He is all it holds dear.

If Obama has been an object of unprecedented veneration for the Fourth Estate in general, a good part of his superstar status is due particularly to the steady stream of cotton-candy cover stories courtesy of the two major alleged newsweeklies. (Newsweek has at least more or less acknowledged what was true long before its recent makeover – that it’s largely a magazine of liberal opinion; Time continues to keep up the pretence of objectivity.)

A prime example of the reverential tone accorded Obama by both Newsweek and Time is the following atrocity committed by Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham in a recent psalm to the Great One:

“As he turned to make the walk back to Air Force One, a breeze blew – and everybody scurried anew, to keep up with him. It was that kind of day – and it has been that kind of presidency: Barack Obama, moving as he wishes to move, and the world bending itself to him.”

The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson wrote of the above piece of prose: “You could just imagine everybody reading this if anybody read Newsweek. They would admire the rich, fecund gorgeousness of Jon’s prose – a breeze blew/scurried anew – and nod and tap their lower lips with their index fingers, because while everybody will say that Jon’s point is true, it isn’t. What Jon wrote, in fact, is the direct opposite of the truth. Even as the sentence was being written, the president was violating several campaign promises for the simple reason that he has had to bend himself to the world, as presidents usually do. And a good thing, too.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

The Tarnished Idol

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Well, now, that didn’t take long, did it? Less than two months into Barack Obama’s presidency and the doubters are already coming out of the woodwork – among them several big-name pundits who, just an hour or two ago (or so it seems) were still in full swoon mode for the Miracle Man sent to lift and cleanse us from the hellish Bush-Cheney miasma.

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman may have got the ball rolling when he wrote on March 10 that “in ways both large and small, what’s left of the American establishment is taking [Obama’s] measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.” The blasphemy having been uttered, albeit ever so meekly, other worshipers began putting down their hymnals and singing a new, more skeptical tune.

In a column titled “Obama Needs to Discover His Inner Dirty Harry,” Bloomberg.com’s very liberal Margaret Carlson wrote, “It’s up to the new sheriff in town to put things right…. Unfortunately, it’s hard to scare the bad guys when your new Treasury secretary comes across like Barney Fife…. The new team took over with a whimper, not a bang.”

Meanwhile, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift – yes, that Eleanor Clift, for two decades the resident screeching liberal of “The McLaughlin Group,” incapable of uttering a good word for Republicans or a bad one for Democrats – asked in an online column, “Who would have thought that 55 days into this administration we would be asking the question, what did he know and when did he know it? Word that a provision in the stimulus bill gave the green light for AIG to hand out bonuses using taxpayer money sent the media bloodhounds hot on the trail of whoever is the culprit…. President Obama likes to remind voters that he inherited a mess, and that’s true, but this one is of his own making.”

And then there was Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who during the campaign never made a secret of her soft spot for candidate Obama, now suddenly complaining in The Wall Street Journal that the president “is willowy when people yearn for solid, reed-like when they hope for substantial, a bright older brother when they want Papa, cool where they probably prefer warmth…. Isaiah Berlin famously suggested a leader is a fox or a hedgehog. The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. In political leadership the hedgehog has certain significant advantages, focus and clarity among them. Most presidents are one or the other. So far Mr. Obama seems neither.”

Some of the sharpest words came form Vanity Fair’s media columnist Michael Wolff, who on his Newser.com blog delivered the ultimate insult to a Democratic president: “Sheesh, the guy is Jimmy Carter.”

Wolff continued, reacting to Obama’s appearance on the “Tonight” show, where he was feted by a typically craven Jay Leno: “The guy just doesn’t know what to say. He can’t connect. Emotions are here, he’s over there. He can’t get the words to match the situation…. He’s cold … he’s uncomfortable; he’s not funny; and he’s getting awfully tedious…. So Jimmy. It’s instructive and humorous to remember that Carter ran a brilliant campaign that succeeded largely because his voice was new. Simple, direct, basic, human. And then, of course, he turned into a sad-sack twit.”

Obama’s approval rating remains strong – though as pollsters Douglas Schoen and Scott Rasmussen noted in a March 12 Wall Street Journal op-ed column, his numbers are actually lower than George W. Bush’s at a similar point in his presidency in 2001.

But the polls indicate, wrote David Warren in The Ottawa Sun, that Obama “had better start selling his policies harder, because they are showing signs of not going over very well.”

Especially, added Warren, since “the unpolled elites, including those within the Democratic Party, have started to ask questions aloud about whether their man is competent; and as we know from painful history, such uncertainties from an elite tend to ‘trickle down.’”

Back in June 1993, just five months into his presidency, a miniaturized Bill Clinton (the media’s anointed candidate in the 1992 campaign) appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Above him, seemingly pushing him off the page, were the words, in huge type, “The Incredible Shrinking President.” Would-be saviors turn fallible all too quickly.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-tarnished-idol/2009/03/25/

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