Just when you thought our tabloid news culture couldn’t get any worse . . . it gets worse. Apparently, Time and Newsweek are battling for the journalistic award for Sensationally Bad Taste. The cover of the latest issue of Time magazine features a woman nursing her 3-year-old son (corresponding to the cover story pertaining to “attachment parenting,” which, to me, is as absurd as the cover photo is disturbing.) Not to be outdone, Newsweek countered with a cover story on Obama as “The First Gay President.”
When Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown learned about the controversial Time cover, she tellingly declared, “Let the games begin.” Judging by the poor quality of their journalism over the past decade or so, I’d say Time and Newsweek have both been playing games. At least now it’s official.
Not only are these recent moves signs that these once honorable news organizations have gone the way of the celebrity tabloid, they are symptomatic of their desperation in the Internet age (and a poor economy). But perhaps more significantly, it is dramatic evidence of how irrational our culture is becoming. The expectation, of course, is that these controversial covers will drive up sales. And this is an even sadder commentary on the rest of us.