Hail Madeleine and Joel; Saint Sanger; Take Me To Your Oprah
1. Time named Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos its Person of the Year, but singled out Clintonites Madeleine Albright and Joel Klein for praise as "people who mattered."
2. U.S. News & World Report campaign scribe Roger Simon ridiculed George W. Bush’s laid- back debating style and asserted, "Anybody who thinks George Bush is no slouch has never seen him debate."
3. U.S. News and Newsweek caught up with Time in hailing the patron saint of abortion on demand, Margaret Sanger.
4. Newsweek’s year-end "Conventional Wisdom Watch" played around with Mao, Stalin,
Geronimo, Giuliani, and Oprah, whom the magazine suggests is the planetary leader for any arriving space aliens.
On the covers of the December 27 issues of the three news weeklies: Time chose Internet pioneer Jeff Bezos as its "Person of the year," US News & World Report provided a historical retrospective in "Uncle Sam’s Century" and Newsweek featured Charlie Brown on its cover. In Newsweek, Howard Fineman wondered about George W. Bush naming Jesus as his favorite political philosopher: "The issue is whether an appeal to religion will work as a moral cleaning agent. The wobbly front runners — Bush and Al Gore — are sons of the Bible belt, where public expression of belief in Jesus is a way of life and where endorsements from above matter."
Among Time’s "people who mattered" were Microsoft boss Bill Gates and his litigious Clinton Justice Department nemesis Joel Klein. Time opined: "Antitrust division chiefs are an obscure lot, toiling anonymously over fusty treatises and recondite appellate briefs. But with his epic lawsuit against the software empire Microsoft this year, Joel Klein stepped into the floodlights, part trust-busting Ida Tarbell, part Goliath-slaying David. Microsoft's fate remains in the air, but Klein has already changed corporate history: no other company will ever write e-mail so recklessly or save it so efficiently. Gates, the other gladiator in this legal coliseum, has long been a household name. But the antitrust lawsuit – and the media frenzy it generated – has cast him in a new light and set off a national debate: Is the world's richest man a national treasure or an $85 billion bully?"
Time also praised Madeleine Albright. "The echoes of her past could be heard in every statement of uncompromising purpose, each insistence that her war was just. In her third year as the country's first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, a child of Europe's dark century, pushed and prodded the U.S. and its allies to punish the Continent's latest ethnic cleanser. It was a career-defining event: the NATO campaign to drive Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's forces out of Kosovo became known as Madeleine's War. Through 78 days of bombing, Albright kept wavering allies on board, until Milosevic finally backed down. There were no U.S. combat deaths. NATO jets failed to stop Serbs from killing 10,000 Kosovars and driving an additional 700,000 out of the province, but Albright declared victory — and the refugees returned. At a time of disquiet about U.S. interventions in the world, Albright evoked an earlier moment in the American Century, when the U.S. did not shrink from sending its soldiers abroad to right wrongs and battle tyrants."
U.S. News & World Report campaign scribe Roger Simon portrayed GOP frontrunner George W. Bush as bored with the nominating process, beginning his account of the week with the too-typical emphasis on style over substance: "Anybody who thinks George Bush is no slouch has never seen him debate. Last week in a nationally Last week in a nationally televised debate from Des Moines he sat slouched in his chair for 90 minutes. Sometimes he would slouch to his left and cock his head to his right and sometimes he would slouch to his right and cock his head to his left. In a presidential race where body language is being analyzed as never before – the Wall Street Journal has already done a major story on Bush's smirk and another one on Bill Bradley's habit of clicking lozenges against his teeth – Bush seemed to be sending a clear message: I had to miss Monday Night Football for this?"
U.S. News and Newsweek caught up with Time, who in April 1998 lionized Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, the patron saint of abortion on demand. As part of their listing of 25 "makers of the American Century," U.S. News selected environmentalist heroine Rachel Carson, feminist heroine Betty Friedan, and Sanger.
Jay Tolson wrote of great causes winning out over crushing Catholicism: "The child of poor Irish-American parents – her tubercular mother had 11 children and seven miscarriages – she fled her native Corning, N.Y., and her family's Catholicism, determined to live a life free of crushing encumbrances. Nursing school in New York City and a comfortable suburban marriage to a prosperous Jewish architect yielded first to radical politics and then, via the works of Freud and sexologist Havelock Ellis, to the great cause of her lifetime."
Sanger’s belief in not letting the inferior races reproduce was swept aside in a clause: "Motivated by hedonism and a belief in eugenics, she founded the world's first birth-control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916, helped launch the Planned Parenthood movement, and became obsessed with finding the ‘perfect’ contraceptive."
Tolson concluded with another pundit in favor of crushing traditional Catholicism: "According to priest and sociologist Andrew Greeley, the 1968 Vatican II pronouncement against the pill led demonstrably to a steep decline in U.S. attendance at mass. It was, in his view, ‘one of the worst mistakes in the history of Catholic Christianity.’ And if oral contraception brought American women a long way in their quest for equality with men, the fact that most insurance policies cover Viagra – and not the pill – says something about the distance that remains."
Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom Watch" gave Sanger an up arrow with the quip: "Pioneered birth-control movement in the 1920s, ending the rhythm and blues era."
Newsweek’s end-of-the-1900s "Conventional Wisdom Watch," usually penned by the insufferable Jonathan Alter, played around with weighty figures of the century and saved the seriousness for the unbearably light.
CW gave Mao Zedong a down arrow: "Led a long march that kept China down for decades. Cool jackets, though." This journalist’s motto: never let a death toll in the tens of millions inhibit your fashion sense.
Joseph Stalin also deserved a down arrow: "Strong Soviet dictator, but couldn't resist murdering millions." As if being a strong dictator would have merited an up arrow without that mass murder thing?
For Adolf Hitler, of course, there are no quips about tony brown shirts with the down arrow: Half-century later, the question remains: How did it happen?"
As for real killers, CW singled out America, giving Geronimo a sideways arrow: "Apache warrior tried to save Human Beings from genocidal invaders (us)."
Genghis Khan drew a down arrow, but was made the equivalent of securities dealers: "Gave barbarians a bad name. Would have done well on Wall Street."
Michelangelo was an arrows-up genius, but was made the equivalent of shock-jock dung-painters : "Best ceiling painter ever. But Giuliani would have banned his ‘David.’"
For the can-they-be-serious highlight of this feature, see CW’s up-arrow take on Oprah Winfrey: "If an alien being landed on Earth and said, ‘Take me to your leader,’ she'd be the one."
Does this guy have dreams of writing a best-seller for Oprah’s Book Club?
-- Mark H. Drake and Tim Graham
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe