Newsweek's Hirsh Ambushes McCain

Last July, Newsweek's Michael Hirsh lamented the apparent collapse of John McCain's candidacy as illustrative of the "sad fact of political life in Washington" that Americans don't want former military people for presidents.  Last week, the same Hirsh ambushed McCain.

Last July, Hirsh credited McCain for being "dead on in his analysis of what went wrong in Iraq." 

"Now even McCain's fellow Republicans, frightened of the polls and Bush's Nixonian level of unpopularity, are insisting on success in an impossible nine months (by September, that is). That's a benchmark Gen. David Petraeus and others in the Iraq command realize is simply untenable.  The disparity between the timelines in Washington and Baghdad is now so huge that failure is all but foreordained." 

("Foreordained"? Like by God?)

The final magnanimous sentence of Hirsh's July piece on poor John McCain read:

"Maybe we even ought to think about giving John McCain another chance."

Then, last week, in his Newsweek article entitled "The World According to John McCain" (a spin on The World According to Garp?), Hirsh spent most of the piece projecting a negative image of the man who deserved another chance.

Quoting from McCain's recent speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Hirsh's first two sentences set the tone of his article.

"We need to listen," John McCain was saying, "to the views...of our democratic allies."  Then, though the words weren't in the script, the Arizona senator repeated himself, as if in self-admonishment: "We need to listen."


A calm, deliberate listener is not the image of McCain that Hirsh -- who reads minds -- is selling.  So, of course, McCain would marvel at his own conciliatory words. What Hirsh is selling comes in the next paragraph.

"John McCain doesn't always behave according to his own statesmanlike script."

Much of what follows is a line-up of dubious witnesses, hidden behind dark screens, testifying to McCain's alleged instability. 

"Raising his voice at Steinmeier (Germany's foreign minister) - who's known for speaking in unclear diplomatese - McCain ‘started shaking and rising out of his chair,' said one participant, a former senior diplomatic official who related the anecdote on condition of anonymity.

"Fearless and righteous, McCain has long been known to unleash a lacerating anger on those who cross him -- Senate colleagues, foreign interlocutors, even the interrogators who once held his life in their hands at the Hanoi Hilton.  (McCain should have treated his captors with more respect?)

"...there remain serious questions about how exactly McCain might behave as president."  (Serious as opposed to frivolous questions?)

"...the antic Arizonan has already worried many voters.

"This is what troubles some about McCain's zeal for certain causes: he can be pragmatic in the pursuit of them, but seems to see them in largely black and white terms..."  (In other words, he makes decisions. So close minded.)

"Some critics worry that despite McCain's stated commitment to diplomatic coercion against Tehran, such an uncompromising approach could lead to hostilities."  (Or not.)

"‘I tried to talk to him [McCain] about Russia, but he just stiffened,' a former senior GOP foreign-policy official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, said. ‘To me that's one of the most troublesome things about him.'"

"It's not just that McCain's anger worries his detractors..."

There's much more, but you get the idea.  Hirsh's article is a character ambush full of anonymous sources. It's an example of bias journalism replete with innuendos built around incendiary words such as "fierce," "haunts," "emotional," "renewed questions," and "image problem." 

Hirsh gets a check from Newsweek, but he should invoice the Democratic National Committee.  Here he is writing in his own voice:

"He [McCain] has since pledged to keep U.S. troops there [Iraq] indefinitely..." (Which is neither a complete nor fair representation of what McCain saidBut it does repeat the Obama accusation.)

"The diatribe [McCain's] against Belarus was another case in point: no one doubts that Alexander Lukashenko is an evil if fairly insignificant dictator, but sometimes one has to talk to evil people."  (Does that sound like any particular Democrat presidential candidate you've heard, also a graduate from the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Policy?)

In the last sentence of Hirsh's diagnosis of the Dr. Jeckle - Mr. Hyde split-personality battle underway for the mind of John McCain, he leaves the reader to ponder whether McCain would be his "consummate pragmatist" self, or a "zealous crusader for causes he feels just."

"If John McCain becomes president, which will be used more?"

How about this answer:  It will depend on the situation.

So why does Newsweek magazine print this stuff? To influence an election, for sure. But also to sell magazines and make money. And how is that going?  Not great. 

The moderate increase last year in all weekly magazine circulation is being driven by celebrity titles.  Magazine buyers are eager to read about Britney Spears and who's having whose baby.  Us Weekly and OK! are doing just fine. But TIME magazine's circulation dropped 17.57% in 2007 in paid and verified circulation, and decreased 19.4% in single copy sales.

Newsweek sales, though, remained unchanged in 2007.  But wait, the U.S. is growing at a yearly rate of about 2,500,000, so unchanged equals declining when measured against an expanding market. And, just this week, we learned that 111 of 146 Newsweek staffers offered a buyout have accepted.  Top political writers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman (who once referred to Hillary Clinton as the smartest candidate among the Democrats) were offered buyouts, but declined. 

Unidentified sources, who wish to remain anonymous, have not yet said whether critics of Michael Hirsch's articles have serious questions about his name being on Newsweek's next buyout-offer list.
Last July, Newsweek's Michael Hirsh lamented the apparent collapse of John McCain's candidacy as illustrative of the "sad fact of political life in Washington" that Americans don't want former military people for presidents.  Last week, the same Hirsh ambushed McCain.

Last July, Hirsh credited McCain for being "dead on in his analysis of what went wrong in Iraq." 

"Now even McCain's fellow Republicans, frightened of the polls and Bush's Nixonian level of unpopularity, are insisting on success in an impossible nine months (by September, that is). That's a benchmark Gen. David Petraeus and others in the Iraq command realize is simply untenable.  The disparity between the timelines in Washington and Baghdad is now so huge that failure is all but foreordained." 

("Foreordained"? Like by God?)

The final magnanimous sentence of Hirsh's July piece on poor John McCain read:

"Maybe we even ought to think about giving John McCain another chance."

Then, last week, in his Newsweek article entitled "The World According to John McCain" (a spin on The World According to Garp?), Hirsh spent most of the piece projecting a negative image of the man who deserved another chance.

Quoting from McCain's recent speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Hirsh's first two sentences set the tone of his article.

"We need to listen," John McCain was saying, "to the views...of our democratic allies."  Then, though the words weren't in the script, the Arizona senator repeated himself, as if in self-admonishment: "We need to listen."


A calm, deliberate listener is not the image of McCain that Hirsh -- who reads minds -- is selling.  So, of course, McCain would marvel at his own conciliatory words. What Hirsh is selling comes in the next paragraph.

"John McCain doesn't always behave according to his own statesmanlike script."

Much of what follows is a line-up of dubious witnesses, hidden behind dark screens, testifying to McCain's alleged instability. 

"Raising his voice at Steinmeier (Germany's foreign minister) - who's known for speaking in unclear diplomatese - McCain ‘started shaking and rising out of his chair,' said one participant, a former senior diplomatic official who related the anecdote on condition of anonymity.

"Fearless and righteous, McCain has long been known to unleash a lacerating anger on those who cross him -- Senate colleagues, foreign interlocutors, even the interrogators who once held his life in their hands at the Hanoi Hilton.  (McCain should have treated his captors with more respect?)

"...there remain serious questions about how exactly McCain might behave as president."  (Serious as opposed to frivolous questions?)

"...the antic Arizonan has already worried many voters.

"This is what troubles some about McCain's zeal for certain causes: he can be pragmatic in the pursuit of them, but seems to see them in largely black and white terms..."  (In other words, he makes decisions. So close minded.)

"Some critics worry that despite McCain's stated commitment to diplomatic coercion against Tehran, such an uncompromising approach could lead to hostilities."  (Or not.)

"‘I tried to talk to him [McCain] about Russia, but he just stiffened,' a former senior GOP foreign-policy official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, said. ‘To me that's one of the most troublesome things about him.'"

"It's not just that McCain's anger worries his detractors..."

There's much more, but you get the idea.  Hirsh's article is a character ambush full of anonymous sources. It's an example of bias journalism replete with innuendos built around incendiary words such as "fierce," "haunts," "emotional," "renewed questions," and "image problem." 

Hirsh gets a check from Newsweek, but he should invoice the Democratic National Committee.  Here he is writing in his own voice:

"He [McCain] has since pledged to keep U.S. troops there [Iraq] indefinitely..." (Which is neither a complete nor fair representation of what McCain saidBut it does repeat the Obama accusation.)

"The diatribe [McCain's] against Belarus was another case in point: no one doubts that Alexander Lukashenko is an evil if fairly insignificant dictator, but sometimes one has to talk to evil people."  (Does that sound like any particular Democrat presidential candidate you've heard, also a graduate from the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Policy?)

In the last sentence of Hirsh's diagnosis of the Dr. Jeckle - Mr. Hyde split-personality battle underway for the mind of John McCain, he leaves the reader to ponder whether McCain would be his "consummate pragmatist" self, or a "zealous crusader for causes he feels just."

"If John McCain becomes president, which will be used more?"

How about this answer:  It will depend on the situation.

So why does Newsweek magazine print this stuff? To influence an election, for sure. But also to sell magazines and make money. And how is that going?  Not great. 

The moderate increase last year in all weekly magazine circulation is being driven by celebrity titles.  Magazine buyers are eager to read about Britney Spears and who's having whose baby.  Us Weekly and OK! are doing just fine. But TIME magazine's circulation dropped 17.57% in 2007 in paid and verified circulation, and decreased 19.4% in single copy sales.

Newsweek sales, though, remained unchanged in 2007.  But wait, the U.S. is growing at a yearly rate of about 2,500,000, so unchanged equals declining when measured against an expanding market. And, just this week, we learned that 111 of 146 Newsweek staffers offered a buyout have accepted.  Top political writers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman (who once referred to Hillary Clinton as the smartest candidate among the Democrats) were offered buyouts, but declined. 

Unidentified sources, who wish to remain anonymous, have not yet said whether critics of Michael Hirsch's articles have serious questions about his name being on Newsweek's next buyout-offer list.