01.20.12

Media Reaction to Andrew Sullivan’s Obama Cover Story in Newsweek

When Andrew Sullivan challenged Obama’s critics to recognize the president’s successes, he incensed television hosts and the blogosphere. We rounded up some of the fieriest blow-back.

In Newsweek's Jan. 23 cover story—“Why Are Obama’s Critics So Dumb?”—The Dish’s Andrew Sullivan laid out his case that critics of President Obama, on the right and the left, fail to comprehend a president who favors reason over rage and patience over polemics. Many of these critics focused on the headline, ignoring much of the rest of the piece. The Daily Beast found some of the most memorable reactions.

1. Megyn Kelly on Fox’s America Live

Kelly and her guest, National Review editor Rich Lowry, led the charge Tuesday on Fox, with Lowry calling Newsweek the “house organ of the Obama administration from the beginning” and Kelly later quipping that the word “dumb” was deployed so that “maybe more than four people would read Newsweek.” Leslie Marshall provided a more balanced critique, saying: “The president, and even I for defending the president, have been called worse.”

2. Joel Pollak at Breitbart.com

In a blog post headlined “Why Is Andrew Sullivan So Dumb?” Joel Pollak turned past the cover and attacked points made in the article itself. Playing off the George Orwell quote Sullivan used to cap his piece, Pollak wrote: “What is in front of Sullivan’s nose is Obama’s incompetence. He has coasted on the military success of his Republican predecessor, and is taking credit for moderate economic progress enabled by a Republican Congress that has held taxes, regulation, and spending in check. If he wins in 2012, Obama will again have Republicans to thank.”

3. Sad puppy on RedState.org

RedState.org invited readers to send in their own Photoshopped mock-ups of the Obama Newsweek cover. One submission took advantage of quite a sad-looking puppy.

4. Daniel Drezner at Foreign Policy

Daniel Drezner was one blogger who took issue with specific points in Sullivan’s piece and offered criticisms and even some evidence of his own.

5. NewsBusters

The site committed to “exposing and combating liberal media bias” wins the award for speediest response to Sullivan’s front-pager. Three hours after Newsweek tweeted the cover image, NewsBusters asked: “Is there anything the mainstream media won't do to get Obama reelected?”

6. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic

Friedersdorf began a dialogue with Sullivan with an open letter, “Dear Andrew Sullivan: Why Focus on Obama’s Dumbest Critics?” It was followed by a thoughtful critique of the way the media cover the American president. “The intellectual, if he is as talented as Sullivan, is given some influence in establishing the bounds of national debate,” Friedersdorf wrote. “And speaking truth on behalf of power—and it is true: Obama did not destroy the economy!—is to squander that influence, for apologia is already permitted.”