In recent years, Time, America’s largest-circulation newsweekly, winner of the 2006 National Magazine Award for General Excellence, and undoubtedly the nation’s most influential magazine, has morphed into a kind of glossy sibling to the Wall Street Journal. Like the Journal, its hard news pages remain home to generally reliable, often excellent (though sometimes frivolous) political reporting. But its opinion pages are filled with vitriol, anger and abuse, almost always directed at liberals.
During much of the 1980s and early ’90s, Time had a relatively balanced set of political contributors, boasting pundits Michael Kinsley and Barbara Ehrenreich in its back pages, Margaret Carlson with a chatty reported column inside and Roger Rosenblatt all over the place. But all are gone today; in addition to the fire-breathing neocon columnist Charles Krauthammer on the back page, there’s Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein. Of course, Sullivan is famously gay and has soured in his devotion to George W. Bush, and Klein frequently praises the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. But both writers share with Krauthammer a desire to paint liberals–and most Democrats–as either crazy or treasonous, and often both.
One could easily fill this magazine with examples of these writers’ vicious comments about almost anyone they associate with the left. Sullivan notoriously suggested that Gore voters could not be trusted to be loyal Americans after 9/11; when Al Gore tried to expose the Bush Administration’s lies about Iraq and save this country from catastrophe, Klein said “he looked like a madman” while Krauthammer, who parroted the same lies, joked that the ex-VP had “gone off his lithium.”
Time‘s chosen columnists are not only abusive to liberals and Democrats; they are obsessive about their abusiveness. I was present recently when Klein shouted from the back of a room that “the message of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is that they hate America.”* Klein returns to no topic so frequently as those “harsh and stupid” Democrats who “make fools of themselves even when they speak the truth.” Sullivan, for his part, recently took the occasion of the death of John Kenneth Galbraith to opine that “the only response to a person like that is sadness mixed with contempt.” Krauthammer, meanwhile, describes Democrats as “rank hypocrites” with “nothing to offer on Social Security…nothing to offer on the war in Iraq…nothing to offer on the idea of how to manage ourselves in the UN…obstructionist.” Moreover, “they have trashed two centuries of tradition.” All three regularly accuse liberals of rooting for the enemy in Iraq, always without evidence (for a more extensive sample of Time columnists’ comments in the magazine and elsewhere, see Media Matters: mediamatters.org/items/200604120012).