Does Magazine Deliver News or Reporters' Views?
Opinion Time at TIME.
Pundits have offered many
interpretations for why Michael Dukakis lost. Take this explanation
from liberal historian Garry Wills: "Bush won by default, and
by fouls. His mandate is to ignore the threats to our economy,
sustain the Reagan heritage of let's pretend, and serve as
figurehead for what America has become, a frightened empire hiding
its problems from itself."
Such anti-Reagan, anti-Bush rhetoric
appeared in a liberal opinion journal, right? Perhaps Mother
Jones or The Nation. No, it ran in the November 21 Time.
Surely it must have been an opinion piece, a Time
"essay?" Again, no. It was the conclusion of a seven page
"Nation" section election analysis.
How did such blatant opinion get into
a news magazine? MediaWatch asked Time
publicist Brian Brown, who admitted: "We hired him on a
contract basis. So obviously we wanted his opinion." Why
weren't readers alerted to this? He insisted: "Time
was very up front when we launched our new format two months ago,
saying we were indeed going to be more provocative, and in being
provocative become opinionated." But when Time changed
its design on October 17, Managaing Editor Henry Muller assured
readers: "Time is above all a newsmagazine."
But another article in the same issue
shows it really has become a forum its reporters opinions. An
article by Associate Editor Jill Smolowe reviewed the foreign policy
challenges in Central America. She wrote that Reagan "can claim
credit for laying the groundwork for democracy in El Salvador"
and "the Sandinistas' most salient achievements have been to
consolidate their power, build a formidable military machine and
But in her conclusion, she rejected
Reagan policies, offering these options for the Bush Administration:
"[admit] the Contras are never going to topple the Sandinistas,"
"[admit] the Sandinistas are not going to do anything,
including setting up a system of free elections, that might cost
them their power," so "Washington should acknowledge the
legitimacy of the Managua regime and resume direct
negotiations," and "offer to lift its economic
embargo," all in exchange for some assurances by the
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