Judging "Renegade"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 4, 2009

wolffe-obamaWhile there certainly are interesting nuggets in Richard Wolffe’s new book, the news that the book is entirely one-sided–indeed, it did not even cover the machinations of the McCain campaign–speaks to the larger failures of the journalistic class concerning coverage of the Obama Administration. The template is in place; examination of the Administration has reached fawning levels, adoration of the President is the order of the day, and critical examination is largely absent. There are, of course, outstanding exceptions to this rule, but alas, they are becoming harder and harder to find.

It is astonishing that Newsweek, which financed the Wolffe book, barely even rode herd on it. What kind of mindset allows the magazine to refrain from even asking Wolffe to give the Republican side of the 2008 campaign some attention? What kind of mindset tolerates the hero-worship to be found in the book? What kind of mindset encourages such an abandonment of journalistic responsibilities?

The best kinds of journalists play devil’s advocate for the other side when interviewing or covering a particular politician, and allow that politician to speak back against that advocacy. Wolffe and Newsweek have completely failed in that task. They do a great job of preaching to the pro-Obama choir, but they do little to enlighten anyone else. I see from the story that Wolffe and Newsweek are now on bad terms. Too bad the latter was not skeptical of the former much earlier.

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