The April 19 Newsweek cover that's shamelessly selling the "remarkable" tale of our economic recovery also promises a story on "Hate on the Right." In fact the word "HATE" takes up half a page, white letters on a black background, with the subhead "Antigovernment extremists are on the rise - and on the march."
Pictures illustrating the article strangely connect Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin with 1930's socialists. The caption read: "Huey Long castigated the rich and Father Coughlin denounced Jews in the 1930s. Today, the microphones belong to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin." (Beck's previous impassioned rebuttal of the comparison to Coughlin  is ignored.) This would not be the first time Newsweek's imagined "right wing" Coughlin as an Obama foil .
Evan Thomas and Eve Conant  utilize the usual liberal experts - Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who unloads his usual line about militias "roaring back," and historian Alan Brinkley, who opines that "the current surge of fear and loathing toward Obama is 'scary,' he says. 'There's a big dose of race behind the real crazies, the ones who take their guns to public meetings. I can't see this happening if McCain were president.'"
Most of this Brinkley quote is also highlighted in large red letters.
For graphic emphasis, Newsweek also listed a historical timeline of assassinations and bombings, including Oklahoma City and in 1970, "The Weathermen."
This raises the question: if it's fair to somehow associate Beck and Palin with 1930s left-wing ranters, how did Newsweek treat the much more factual connection between Barack Obama and Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers, or Obama's membership for two decades in the church of Jeremiah Wright? Unsurprisingly, those connections were downplayed, and Obama was "disappointed" by being failed by these associates.
On April 18, 2008, an early item on Ayers in Newsweek was helpfully headlined: "Obama: Can't 'Swift Boat' Me."
On May 12, the same Eve Conant who exposed "Hate on the Right" thought Rev. Wright had sadly failed Newsweek's hero:
Wright had been a friend and mentor. Obama had said before that he couldn't cut him off; but after this bitter performance, how could he not sever his ties? "It was a circus," says the senior Obama aide. "Not only was Wright repeating things that were objectionable, but he was also impugning Barack's sincerity."
On May 19, Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller was even stronger, insisting that Wright had attempted to kill Obama rhetorically in "a public murder-suicide attempt," never casting a wary thought about Obama or the "scary" hatred in the hearts of Wright's followers:
All was well, or at least stable, until Wright's public murder-suicide attempt, in which he used rhetoric to assassinate the character of his most famous congregant and reveal the ugliest side of his own....In the meantime, the only image most people have of Trinity is its incomprehensible senior pastor. Those who imagine that the Democratic nominee was converted to Christ by a left-wing hatemonger need to paint in their minds a fuller picture: a young man, intellectual and searching, in prayer at Trinity and awash in the music.
For the September 1 issue, in the warmup for the Obama-nominating convention in Denver, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham even found Lincoln in Obama's masterful separation from his longtime spiritual guide:
When Wright's "God Damn America" clips emerged earlier this year, Obama's friend Jim Wallis sent him a note of condolence. Late one night, Wallis received an e-mail in reply, something like: "God has his purposes." "I was quite astounded," says Wallis, the left-leaning evangelical writer, activist and founder of Sojourners. "Here's a 46-year-old, which for me at 59 seems young, and he says something like that. This is not what politicians think and do. Politicians want always to be predictive and controlling."
Obama's reply to Wallis reflected a kind of Lincoln-esque fatalism. It is a sad but inescapable fact of life that people-in Obama's case, people close to you-often fail you. Wright, obviously, was far from the first man to disappoint Obama.
It all reminds me of Newsweek's Howard Fineman, slyly associating Republicans with Timothy McVeigh on May 8, 1995: "the Oklahoma bombing has illuminated a dark landscape much farther afield: a radical fringe of militant gun owners, 'hate radio' talk-show hosts, and religious cultists. Their numbers are small - and their GOP ties tenuous at best. But their fervor is influential at the grass roots Republicans call their own."
-Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.