On his September 4 broadcast, Newsradio 850 KOA's "Gunny" Bob Newman accused Newsweek magazine of "libeling and smearing" former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson "with a blaring headline attacking his character by saying he is lazy." In fact, Newsweek's profile of Thompson in anticipation of his announcement that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination carried the headline "Lazy Like a Fox," and the article emphasized that he "used his laid-back style to his advantage."
Calling Newsweek magazine an "unabashedly leftist weekly scandal sheet," "Gunny" Bob Newman on his September 4 Newsradio 850 KOA broadcast accused the magazine of "libeling and smearing" former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) by featuring Thompson on the cover of its September 10 issue "with a blaring headline attacking his character by saying he is lazy." Newman suggested that Newsweek did this to Thompson, whom the magazine profiled in advance of an expected September 6 announcement of his candidacy for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, in order "to throw [the] election." Newman did not note, however, that the Newsweek headline called Thompson "Lazy Like a Fox" (emphasis added) and that the sub-headline on the cover asserted, "Fred Thompson's Good-Ole-Boy Style Masks a Drive That's Propelled Him to the Front of the Field."
From the September 4 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Gunny Bob Show:
NEWMAN: Have you seen the latest Newsweek magazine? Hmm, have you? Listen, the unabashed, unabashedly leftist weekly scandal sheet has conservative former Senator Fred Thompson on the cover with a blaring headline attacking his character by saying he is lazy. This is a news magazine, supposedly. Make no mistake -- this is the nation's second-largest so-called news weekly attempting to influence the electorate by libeling and smearing Fred Thompson, who many, if not most, liberals fear, quite rightly, due to his perceived ability to crush their hero, socialist Hillary Clinton, in the 2008 presidential election. Newsweek is, of course, no longer a news weekly but rather a Democratic Party commentary weekly, and a shockingly left-leaning one at that. And I -- you gotta stand by for this, everybody stand by, hold onto your hats -- or in the Marine Corps we call them "covers." I, I have to apologize to all of you right now for granting Newsweek magazine a major interview back in 2003. I had my suspicions about them back then, but they begged me, and I acquiesced. I will never do so again unless Newsweek apologizes to Senator Thompson. And I hope that you will excuse my poor judgment in granting Newsweek the interview four years ago. But question for you: Do you think there is anything effective and legal -- important on both sides of that coin, effective and legal -- that we can, that we can do to the liberal media when they deceive U.S. citizens into believing an opinion hit piece is a news article? This is the cover of Newsweek calling Fred Thompson lazy. This is supposed to be a news magazine. You know, reporting, articles. And what, if anything, can and should be done to prevent the media -- the mainstream media -- from using their great power to throw an election?
Contrary to Newman's assertion that Newsweek did "an opinion hit piece" on Thompson, in fact the article recounted highlights of Thompson's career and quoted former Republican senator and Reagan White House chief of staff Howard Baker noting Thompson's qualification for president:
But in his long, meandering career -- as a young Tennessee prosecutor who won 14 of 15 bank-robbery cases, a twice-elected senator and Washington lobbyist and an accidental actor who stars in one of the most popular shows on television -- Thompson has never lost a job, or a campaign, because of a lack of effort. "If I had to pick one thing that qualifies him to be president," says Baker, "it's this: he approaches things calmly, deliberately -- and he doesn't shoot from the hip."
The article noted of Thompson's White House ambition that "the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Thompson doesn't want it badly enough, isn't willing to work hard enough -- put bluntly, that he is lazy." It also quoted an unnamed "top White House official" suggesting that Thompson might not have "the appetite for a presidential campaign":
"He needs to show he has the appetite for a presidential campaign, and he hasn't shown that yet," says a top White House official who did not want to be named sticking a knife in the back of a fellow Republican. "It's the hardest work in the world. I'm not sure he wants to work that hard."
However, consistent with the complimentary cover headline, the article indicated that Thompson "has so far used his laid-back style to his advantage":
If anything, Thompson has so far used his laid-back style to his advantage. In a GOP field crowded with accomplished strivers who will seemingly do or say anything to get noticed, he has stood out for his practiced indifference to presidential gamesmanship. His reticence may strike his doubters and detractors as a weakness. But for many voters put off by the other candidates, Thompson's stately but somewhat detached approach to the campaign is reminiscent of another actor turned president. "You're the next Ronald Reagan!" a man tells Thompson at the fair. Thompson, not quite convincingly, downplays the comparison. "No, no, don't say that," he protests. "I have a lot to live up to."
Similar to a promise he made with regard to MSNBC at another point during his September 4 broadcast, Newman noted that he had done an interview with Newsweek "four years ago" and vowed never to do so again "unless Newsweek apologizes to Senator Thompson."