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A Disturbing Close-Up

I was in an airport this weekend, and the cover of the latest Newsweek made me stop and stare. It was as if The Nation had been elevated to the ranks of TIME and The Economist and placed right up front by the candy bars at the checkout counter:

I can’t think of another major magazine cover this blatantly partisan. The only one coming to mind is TIME’s polar-bear cover, but global-warming alarmism was so common by then that it wasn’t shocking to see a “mainstream” publication dive into the glacial melt with such reckless abandon. This, on the other hand — a 3,000-plus-word defense of the Democrats’ health-care bill from one of its primary authors — has got to be a new one for the checkout-counter class of magazines.

My favorite part is editor Jon Meacham’s weird excuse-making. He tells us that it would be a disservice Kennedy and to Newsweek (never mind the readers) if the magazine were to “smooth over the rougher elements of [Kennedy’s] long story.” He then proceeds to smooth away, repackaging Kennedy’s career as “the story of a search for redemption.” Ted Kennedy may or may not be searching for redemption, but I get the feeling he would be supporting government-run health care even if he hadn’t driven off that bridge 40 years ago. Smoothing over that incident by linking it with the supposed nobility of Kennedy’s current cause is precisely what Meacham is doing.

If Newsweek can keep its now-blatant advocacy in the most prominent locations at newsstands, more power to it. I’d love to see National Review next to the cash register. Is the trick to pretend to be objective for a few decades?

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