No doubt by now you’ve seen or at least heard of Time Magazine’s latest attempt to shock us into buying their wares. In the off chance you haven’t, here it is:
The article itself wasn’t so much a hard hitting editorial on the benefits of breast feeding as it was how some people go to extremes over “attachment parenting”. I guess someone in the Time newsroom decided it was a slow issue, so why not make it the cover story. Best way to do that? Well, let’s make it shocking! Sure, why not? It’s not like they haven’t done that before.
But what does any of that have to with President Obama?
In a recent interview, President Obama came out in support of gay marriage and overall equality. Well, good for him. He’s said as much before in other interviews but this was the first time he ever said the words “gay”, “marriage”, and “support” all in the same sentence so it kind of brought things to a new level. Not surprisingly all the hardliners on the right immediately started running with the story that the POTUS was launching all out war on traditional marriage.
All politics aside, the media decided to immediately jump all over this new story and see if they could spin it in any way that suited their targeted demographic. Pro-republican outlets bashed POTUS any way they could. Pro-democrat outlets said he’s standing up for civil liberties. Pro-LBGT outlets expressed that they felt vindicated. And Anti-LBGT always seem to be protesting 24/7 anyway so I’m not sure they even heard the announcement (seriously, have you noticed that seems to be their only job?).
Newsweek decided to take things one step further; let’s make Obama a gay man on our cover!
The piece is titled “The First Gay President” with a subtitle explaining that his “life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience”. You can read the whole article here.
First off, it’s obvious what they’re doing here. In an effort to try and steal attention from Time’s cover above, they’re going a different route to try and shock you into buying their magazine. If you actually read the piece itself, the author (Andrew Sullivan) does a decent job of explaining how Obama’s public opinion on gay marriage has evolved over time. However, it also become increasingly clear with each paragraph that the author has always wanted it this way. The story is more about about the author’s journey to understand Obama’s position and less about the position itself. None of that is so bad and it’s a well written piece.
Except it’s not news. Nor does it state our POTUS is gay. And the argument that his life as a biracial man makes one with the gay movement is only hinted at by the end of page 3 (in a 4 page article).
See the category that this piece is in? In case you can’t find it, I’ll just tell you; Editorial. That means that this post is my opinion. It is based upon my feeling on a particular subject and therefore cannot be considered news any more than an angsty 14 year old’s LiveJournal (do kids even have LiveJournals anymore?). The big differentiation here is that this is a blog run by semi-literate geeks and THAT’S FRAKKING NEWSWEEK! Somehow I just expected a respected, long running magazine with the word “News” in the name to actually be more . . . prestigious. Instead we learn the truth; print writers are just like any other writers. The only difference is that they have editors who are trying to make a buck.
Yes, I am blaming this on the editor.
In 1998, a writer for The New Yorker named Toni Morrison wrote an article about then-President Clinton. That article, edited by Tina Brown famously called Clinton “the first black President”. Tina Brown later left The New Yorker to work at . . . Newsweek. Even the subtitle to Newsweek’s article shows the editor might have only skimmed the article before slapping it on the front over. The line?
The president’s bold support shifted the mainstream. Andrew Sullivan on why it shouldn’t be surprising—Obama’s life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience.
The reason this doesn’t jive with the article is many-fold. For starters, as I pointed out earlier, this line of reasoning wasn’t brought up until nearly the end of the article and may have been the weakest point in the whole thing. It’s overall statement implies that all biracial men are inherently more connected to “The Gay Experience” (as best I can tell, I’ve been a biracial man for 30 years and have had no gay experiences, deep or otherwise). On top of that, POTUS’s statement has not shifted one thing in the slightest. People for him are still for him, people against him now just have another reason to be against him, people undecided now just have another variable to consider. Let’s face it here, if you have any sort of opinion on the argument of gay marriage then you already know exactly where you stand and who you support.
The funny thing is that this piece COULD have been so much better if they actually had explored the path of how being biracial might give someone a little more insight into the challenges faced by the LBGT community in finding equality. I can completely relate to such an argument, as I feel it also has affected how I look at the matter. Instead it turned into an author writing “I’m gay, and I’m happy I finally understand the President” and an editor saying “Man, I’m going to troll everyone so hard. chu-ching!”
Ms. Brown is not the only one guilty of such trolling behavior. As Eric Randall of The Atlantic Wire is quick to point out, Obama has also been called the first female President (also by Newsweek), the first Jewish President (New York Magazine), first Asian-American President (AFP), and first Hispanic President (but no one really takes Geraldo Rivera seriously). As previously mentioned, Clinton was already named the first black President. And rounding up our list is President George W. Bush, who was named the first Muslim President by Foreign Policy . . . no, really. Don’t believe me that they really are just trolling?
It used to be that I read Time and Newsweek magazine for information on what was happening in the world. Looking back, I now realize that I only read them because I was 13 and the internet didn’t really exist as it does now. With technology being what it is, where is the journalists’ place in the world now? It’s already been shown that traditional publications are quick to plagiarize some online works while others are quick to point out that “bloggers don’t count”. But what’s becoming more and more evident is that the level of “professional journalism” in many of these print magazines is quickly approaching that of a blogger looking to quickly get as many page views as possible.
I don’t know if that makes me proud as a blogger that my posts may be on par with that of a Newsweek writer, or horribly depressed that these publications are nothing but money-hungry trolls.