Time's coverage of U.S. attorney scandal less than one-third that of Newsweek

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On the March 25 broadcast of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Time managing editor Richard Stengel -- despite the many unanswered questions about White House senior adviser Karl Rove's involvement in the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys and possible misrepresentations by administration officials about his role -- criticized members of Congress for seeking public testimony by Rove under oath and with a transcript. Stengel said he was "so uninterested in the Democrats wanting Karl Rove because it is so bad for them, because it shows business as usual, tit for tat, vengeance," adding, "That's not what voters want to see." When confronted later by Time.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox about his remarks, Stengel claimed in a March 27 email that he had been "caught out speaking as a citizen rather than as editor of Time" and justified his previous comments as follows: "[A]s a citizen, I think it's unfortunate and perhaps short-sighted for Democrats to be perceived as focusing on the past rather than the future. If people see the Democrats as obsessively concerned with settling scores, that's not good for the Democrats or the country."

But notwithstanding Stengel's claim that he was speaking only as a private citizen when he described Congress' investigation into the matter as "focusing on the past rather than the future" and an "obsessive[] concern[] with settling scores," coverage of the story by the magazine he runs evinces a similar lack of interest, particularly when compared with that of its closest direct competitor, Newsweek. In a March 30 post citing comments by Stengel and Time Washington bureau chief Jay Carney, Radar magazine's blog, Fresh Intelligence, noted that the April 9 issue of Time "contains precisely zero stories on the scandal," and asked, "Is Time trying to bury the attorney general scandal that's seized Washington, D.C., for the past three months?" But Time's lack of coverage regarding this story extends beyond the most recent issue. A Media Matters for America search has found that, in its last five print issues, Time has devoted less than one-third the coverage -- 1,007 words versus 3,797 words -- as has Newsweek.

Though Time has published multiple articles about the attorney firings on its website and on its weblog, Swampland, Media Matters' review has found that only three articles mentioning the attorney scandal (amounting to 1,007 words in total) have appeared in the five most recent print issues of Time (March 12-April 9):

Issue date

Article

Word count

March 12

None

0

March 19

None

0

March 26

Of Longhorns and Loyalty; The Confession Procession

346; 358

April 2

Scandal, Power and the President

303

April 9

None

0

3 articles

1,007 words

That Time has devoted only three brief articles to the story was first noted by the weblog The Carpetbagger Report.

By contrast, during the same period, Newsweek devoted 3,797 words to articles on the scandal:

Issue date

Article

Word count

March 12

A Mass Firing Puts Justice on the Hot Seat

436

March 19

Fuel to the Firings

761

March 26

Disorder in King George's Court

1,773

April 2

A Test for Gonzales

478

April 9

Rove: A Moving Target

349

5 articles

3,797 words

Additionally, the attorney firings were briefly mentioned in the "Conventional Wisdom Watch" section of the April 9, April 2, March 26, March 19, and March 5 Newsweek issues, and in the "Perspectives" sections of the April 9, March 26, and March 19 issues.

Moreover, contrary to Stengel's suggestion that it is only congressional Democrats who are interested in pursuing the investigation and in hearing sworn testimony by Rove, as Media Matters has noted, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) voted with the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to authorize the use of a subpoena to force Rove and other White House aides to testify. And, contrary to Stengel's suggestion about what voters want, on March 26, USA Today released a poll in which 72 percent of respondents said that "Congress should ... investigate the involvement of White House officials in this matter."

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies, Ethics
Network/Outlet
Newsweek, Time Magazine
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