It really is past time for Time to go away.
Once the epitome of sharp, incisive, erudite weekly news reporting and commentary, it long ago morphed into just another left-biased shill for liberal politicians and positions, but with a desperate, tabloid-style habit of using intentionally gross, disturbing or controversial cover graphics to sell more copies than its equally biased and shameless rival, Newsweek. Now Newsweek is mercifully gone, but Time’s rude cover habit remains, culminating in the above disgrace to Time’s traditions and responsible journalism.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is fat, get it? He’s the “elephant in the room.” This is a slur. It was intended as one, of course. As such, it is a blatant ad hominem attack, pre-disposing Time’s fat-hating readers (only lazy conservatives are fat, just as Washington Post lefty cartoonist Herblock always drew them—swollen and spherical, wearing tight vests, buttons popping, smoking cigars, and usually holding bags with $$$ on them) to dislike the subject of the article before they’ve read it. Welcome to the swill that is American journalism today.
As I have mentioned here often, fat-bashing and weight-related slurs are among the three culturally acceptable forms of prejudice (the others are anti-elderly and anti-male) embraced by the Left, including journalists, when they want to denigrate a denizen of the shadowy right—even one who peeks into the light of moderation from time to time, like Gov. Christie. ( Hillary, last I looked, was looking decidedly portly and long in the tooth, but she’s a woman, see, and also a “progressive.” Would Time ever, ever dare to reference her age or weight on a cover? If the National Review did, would it not instantly be used as more proof of the Right’s “war on women”?)
Showing a silhouette of Christie with the elephant idiom (Oh, I can just hear the denials now, can’t you? “We didn’t intend any disrespect! Elephant means Republican! We weren’t suggesting anything negative about Christie’s weight!”) isn’t somewhat like, it is exactly like having a picture of President Obama with the legend, “Nigger in the woodpile.” The only difference is that the culture, left and right, would immediately condemn the latter, and appropriately so. They are the same, however—both are slurs, based on physical characteristics; both are insults, with a long history; both spring from bias; both are tools of suppression and marginalization; both encourage hate; both are ugly and irresponsible; and both are absolutely incompatible with ethical, fair, objective and decent journalism.
I suppose the primary difference is that I doubt Republicans, if Chris Christie becomes President, will get much traction arguing at every turn that Democrats only attack his policies because he’s fat.
Yes, I know: Time has a right to do this…it has a right to use the woodpile phrase, too. We, for our part have a right to point out that a magazine that abuses this right is run by uncivil hacks and smug vulgarians, and is a disgrace to its legacy and the mission of its founder.
Time to go.
32 thoughts on “Unethical Magazine Cover Of The Year: Time (As Henry Luce Spins In His Grave)”
You forgot anti-Catholic and anti-religious as acceptable prejudices. I’m not talking about legitimate policy disputes or legitimate calling out of bad acts, I’m talking about the lazy, default guilt-by-association tone of much mainstream journalism that hints that all believers are idiots. Otherwise, spot-on, and expect a lot, I mean A LOT of fat-shaming and fat-hating humor and just plaint vicious attacks leading up to and during the 2016 presidential campaign. As you’ve pointed out, different standards apply in journalism depending on whether you have a D or an R after your name, and with Christie being an R he is entitled to NO courtesy whatever, while anyone who touches on Hilary’s weight, her age (only Reagan was older when sworn in for the frst time than she would be), or her health (which is also legitimately in question due to a head injury and a possible small stroke), will be viciously attacked as opposing her just because of her gender and as part of the war on women.
Yes, in my first draft, I included the anti-religion biases on the Left. I think it’s in a different category, though, as blatant anti-religious bias will often get condemned all around, and fake Catholics like Kerry and Biden, and fake (probably) Protestants like the President often haul out their religious bona fides and get no flack for it. Nobody uses “Catholic’ as a direct slur; no magazine would get away with “fish-eaters” or “cross-backs.” It’s more subtle. That doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong, just different from this.
Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.
I largely agree with you, but the strength of the patently false mental connection between ‘Catholic Priest’ and ‘Child Molester’ is profoundly distrurbing to me. As are attempt to prop it up when its validity are questioned. What would you say about anti-youth bigotry. I know young people are highly desired and sought after, but rarely with much respect. They’re more seen as potential – easy to manipulate and indocrinate, to control and a source of easy power via numbers. But rarely is ‘young’ used as a positive desciption.
I beg to differ. Young is used both ways in journalism, to disparage young conservative people as inexperienced or simple zealots who don’t “get it” and to prop up young liberals as up-and-comers or “the future” particularly when pushing the LGBT agenda. (in the case of opinions on the issue it happens to be true that young people are more inclined toward increased LGBT rights, but that doesn’t make that inclination automatically the correct one)
I was thinking more of the terms ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’ which are often used as codewords for ‘wacko’.
Only too true, even I am guilty of that, I become nervous when I hear “Southern Baptist” and my mind defaults to “close-minded Bible-thumper” and co-workers did make “magic underwear” comments about Romney. And let’s not forget the all-too-easy association of “Muslim” with “terrorist,” which I also have to plead guilty to, and which is widely accepted as well as widely condemned.
As a fat male Catholic, I thank you for your concern for my people 🙂 Honestly, things like this make me like Christie MORE. I forget the exact circumstances but I remember him basically telling someone to go screw off, because they weren’t his doctor and didn’t know anything about his health. I’d like to think that cheap-shot attacks like this only strengthen the candidate who can stare them down. Unfortunately I think they work all too well, and all too often. What an undisciplined glutton he must be, and looks bad on TV to boot…
This is the first I’ve seen this.
This is the first I’ve seen this, but not stuff like it. How many liberals/progressive traded vile Sarah Palin jokes at cocktail parties and laughed at them as dlightful, sophisticated, and witty? Perhaps it’s time the conservatives started hitting back with their own humor that’s wrong, but funny, like what color’s Obama going to be after this whole scandal falls down on top of him?
Unbelievable! And considering that 48% of Americans are fat these anti-fattists better keep their mouths shut. They’ll soon be outnumbered!
Jack, I swear you are going to make my head explode — the Left DOES NOT HATE FAT PEOPLE. Obesity is universal — most of us struggle with it. Your comments about Hillary could not be more wrong. Has there ever been a first lady more criticized about her appearance — not her beliefs, but her appearance? Michelle Obama certainly makes the list, but Hillary wins that dubious prize no contest. The pant suits, the hair, the retro (not in a good way) glasses, the horrible make-up, the hideous shapeless dresses (when she did decide to wear dresses). Hillary had no sense of style and the media (left and right) was completely unforgiving of that. Then, because she was outspoken as first ladies go, that just added fuel to the fire. But MOST of the the derogatory comments were about her appearance. Women in the public eye have to be attractive, and those who aren’t, like Janet Reno, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, and even actresses like Kathy Bates — are crucified.
I didn’t say the Left hates fat people. I said, and it is true, that they comfortably use fat slurs when the want to engage in ad hominem attacks, and think that’s acceptable, because they easily resort to fat-bashing when other forms of discrimination are unthinkable. Uh, you did see the Time cover, did you not? I mean, that was the basis of the post. What was that supposed to mean? Why was it acceptable journalism?
Oh—I just finished watching a Lawrence O’Donnell segment about Christie’s win on MSNBC. Want to guess what they called the segment? Here—buy a vowel: TH_ _L_PH_NT _N TH_ R__M
So they don’t hate fat people, they just hate conservatives and call them fat and old because they can and nobody on the Left objects. How’s that? Better?
No — not better. It’s not that the media (left and right) is criticizing “fat,” it is that they are criticizing “appearance.” It’s an important distinction. For women, that can include weight, attractiveness, clothes, hair, teeth, etc. The media can find a lot more to fault women with re appearance. For men, a wider range of “attractiveness” is acceptable. A guy can be bald and attractive (our own Jack Marshall for e.g.!), a guy can be short and considered attractive (most of the male actors in Hollywood), even bad clothes and hair (Woody Harrelson or Russell Brand – eck) can be considered attractive. So frequently, if you see the media making fun of a man’s appearance, it’s BECAUSE of weight – but there have been male “unattractive” exceptions to that rule – Dukakis, Kucinich, Nader come to mind. Is it possible that this stands out to you more because you are a guy? Because women get crucified on appearance to a much larger degree – it’s just a longer list of categories that make up that “appearance” standard, and weight is just one item on the list.
FYI — I’m not condoning this — I think it’s stupid and sleazy to criticize anyone on appearance.
Pingback: The Elephant in the Room | closetpuritan
On the political side of this (not the ethical)-
The rest of the articles on the time cover:
“How Chris Christie can win over the GOP”
Is probably about what the Leftists at Time think they need him to say to get them to abandon their core principles because we’d rather have the GOP supporting a Democrat-lite against a Democrat, because Democrats consistently defeat Democrat-lites in elections.
“What the Party Needs”
Is probably an explanation that the Democrats need the Republicans to embrace leftist ideals.
I agree, it’s a disgusting cover.
If the media isn’t going after Hilary Clinton for being fat because she’s a “progressive” (actually, she’s a DLC Democrat, not a progressive, but whatever), then why did they write dozens of “President Clinton is fat” stories during the Clinton administration?
Fat jokes about Clinton were pretty commonplace when he was in office (not so much nowadays, presumably because he lost a lot of weight after his heart attack). Remember the SNL skit featuring Phil Hartman, as Clinton, walking into a restaurant to make an appearance and stealing and eating the food off everyone’s plates? They wouldn’t have done that sketch about a thin politician.
I do agree that there’s a tendency for public figures to do fewer fat jokes about women (although plenty were told about Roseanne). I think that this is because it’s harder to pull off a fat joke about a woman without seeming mean; insulting a woman’s appearance, in our culture, is seen as a more personal attack than insulting a man’s appearance.
Were any Clinton fat jokes on the cover of Time? There is a place for jokes, and that place is not on the cover of supposedly respectable, trustworthy news magazines.
I think you will look in vain, Barry, to find a major news organization that used “fat jokes” in the course of their serious news coverage of Clinton. Why do you immediately run to the defense of the inexcusably biased media? Go ahead, you’re a whiz on the web—show me the Times, Post, Time, or any legit sources that used a fat joke up front as its lead on serious commentary. And I don’t think Time’s cover was a joke, or intended as one. How is that a joke? Calling aon overweight person an elephant, a walrus, a tub of lard—what are the elements of humor there? That’s just mockery and insult. 4th graders think that’s humor? Do you? Really? Or are you just using a trivializing term to make it easier to dismiss this by comparing it to conduct that isn’t remotely similar?
Here is how you make fat jokes, as opposed to just screaming “you’re fat!!!!”…This is from P.G. Wodehouse’s “The Small Bachelor”:
Surely if Wodehouse is the standard, then nothing else in the world could be said to be a joke. (That said, although I adore Wodehouse, I have to admit that I don’t find that particular bunch of jokes very funny.)
It was a “joke” in that they were mocking Christie for being fat. If you’d prefer, call it a pun, or a double entendre; I don’t care. The bottom line was, it was a snide, uncomplimentary reference to Christie’s weight.
Not unlike the Kansas City Star’s 11/11/1996 headline for an analysis piece: “President Clinton will have a lot on his plate – literally,” which was filled with what the reporter believed were clever references to stereotypes about fat people (“I’d bet dollars to doughnuts…”).
Or the New York Times headline from 1992, “Bill Clinton and Food: Jack Sprat He’s Not.”
Or the Times headline from 1994 “Bill Clinton’s Arteries — and Ours,” which opened with “Ask around Little Rock and they tell it to you straight: Bill Clinton when he was Governor could really chow down.”
Now, I’m sure you can make excuses for each of those headlines, and of course they’re not exactly identical to Time’s “The Elephant in the Room.” (Nor is Clinton exactly identical to Christie). But they are just a small sample of the consistent negative media coverage given to Bill Clinton’s weight during the 1990s.
My only point is, the facts are not compatible with the theory that the mainstream press gives negative coverage to a Republican’s weight but gives a Democrat’s weight a pass. It is objectively true that the mainstream press uses anti-fat bigotry in its coverage of prominent people in both parties.
And by the way, it’s not true that I always defend the press – I could link you to dozens of examples of me criticizing the press, often harshly. See, for example,what I wrote about the Time Magazine cover on my own blog yesterday.
Rather, it’s that you’re making a single bad argument over and over – “the press is left-biased, and here’s an anecdote to prove it.” And every time, you ignore obvious counter-anecdotes, or make excuses for why they don’t count (which is confirmation bias at its most obvious – your opinion never changes, regardless of the facts).
So it’s not that I always defend the press; rather, it’s that when you repeat the same bad argument over and over, my response is the same over and over.
Again, Barry, only someone who’s so far left that everything looks moderate to conservative could possibly believe that the news media is not just left-biased, but wildly left biased. There is so much evidence of this that it isn’t legitimately debatable, just deniable. I’m sure you really believe this, but as I say, it’s the product of an extreme and misleading perspective. I suspect you don’t think college professors are also left-biased as a group. The fact that about 85% of journalists and a similar percentage of professors self-identify as progressives (I don’t know what the most recent numbers are, but their disproportionate nature has been well-documented) just doesn’t affect conduct and world view at all. (The progressive scholars then write books claiming that the media isn’t biased. It’s a tough nut to crack, I’ll grant you.)
It’s not a bad argument; it’s not even an argument. It’s just reality that you, and others, are unable to see.
Evidence shows that college professors are disproportionately left-wing as a group, although I’ve read that there are exceptions in particular subject areas (business professors and econ professors tend to be more right-wing, for example).
But left-wing and left-biased aren’t the same thing. I was an econ major in college, and many of my professors were far to my right politically, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t teach and grade fairly, or that I had to take on their views to earn an A. Of course, out of the US’s 1.5 million professors, there are occasional bad apples, but the large majority of professors I’ve encountered genuinely want to teach their subjects well.
Study after study has shown that no simplistic bias in favor of Democrats exists in campaign coverage. In the most recent presidential race, Obama and Romney overall got a similar amount of positive and negative coverage from mainstream media. (Obama had an advantage in stories about polls, insofar as they usually showed him leading Romney, but I don’t see how that’s “bias” when BO was in fact ahead in the polls.)
It’s also impossible to explain the press’ behavior if they were, as you have claimed, simple Obama partisans whose primary goal is to protect the President. Why did Obama’s debate flop get so much coverage? Why did Jeremiah Wright get so much coverage? A dishonest press determined to protect Obama simply wouldn’t have spent more than a day covering those stories.
This is a very convenient rationalization for you, Jack. You don’t have to consider any evidence that your simplistic, one-sided views might not be accurate; any evidence that contradicts your view is irrelevant to you, since the scholar who gathered the evidence is biased! You couldn’t be a more textbook case of a close-minded ideologue.
(It’s true, for example, that Nate Silver has a pro-Democratic bias, in that he’d prefer the Democrats to win. But that doesn’t show that his methodology is inaccurate; to say “Nate Silver is a Democrat, therefore his methodology is inaccurate” is a classic example of the ad hom fallacy.)
Jack, of the two of us, I’m not the ideologue who dismisses studies I don’t like by assuming the scholars must be dishonest. I’m not the one whose confidence in his views is absolutely unshaken even when the evidence I’ve been relying on is objectively proven wrong (as in your claim that the Lincoln Memorial had never in history been closed, or your claim that the polls were biased against Romney). I’m not the one who implied that treating Watergate as a bigger story than the current IRS scandal is proof of left-wing press bias.
Rule of thumb: If you’re not willing to even consider the idea that your own views may be biased, then your own views are DEFINITELY biased.
History question. Anyone know if at the time Eleanor Roosevelt was criticized for being homely and a possible lesbian or did that criticism of her occur much later in time? I ask only because she was far to the left obviously.
There might have been some creeps in there—who knows? But that kind of disrespect to a First lady would not have been tolerated–not from a comedian, not from a magazine humorist, not a columnist, and certainly not a politician. They had manners back then. And Mr.s Roosevelt was widely admired even by her husband’s foes.
Got that from the article about the hard-cover reprinting the wonderful Wodehouse novels, didn’t you? Have you read Wodehouse? He was a comic genius, but your “quote” came from a news article, didn’t it? Be honest.
Roseanne, Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Bates. It’s hard to be an overweight celebrity.
It just occurred to me that this is awfully similar to the Jeremy Lin “A chink in the armor” hullaballoo. Just like back then, I think if a TV commentator had used “elephant in the room” to transition to some controversy about Christie it would be a benefit of the doubt situation, where you don’t always think about the fact that a legitimate turn of phrase may have a double meaning. In print, though, both phrases were stupid not to be caught by anybody and put a halt to.
I thought about that, but the “chink in the armor” comment was verbal, spontaneous, and obviously not intended as a slur at all. If that had been used by Time on its cover with a picture of Jeremy Lin, I would agree that the intent would be clear. That issue was about punishing someone for a non-standard interpretation of the word “chink” because it “could” he taken offensive. A chink is a dent. An elephant is a big, lumbering, heavy animal. Nobody calls an obese politician the elephant in the room and doesn’t intend the weight reference.
I actually think I could forgive a “elephant in the room” reference to Christie (or Michael Moore, or whoever) if it was a verbal, unscripted comment – it’s a common cliche, and there are contexts where it might genuinely be carelessness instead of a mean crack about fat. (Is “crack” an acceptable word for me to use, Jack?)
But in the case of a Time Magazine cover headline, no such excuse is even remotely plausible. That headline was given careful consideration, probably by a roomful of experienced journalists sitting around a conference table who talked about it and the alternative options in detail. They knew exactly what they were saying.
“Chink in the armor” also made it into a headline on ESPN’s web site, and the guy who wrote it was fired and not brought back. Case in point- verbal oopsy, you maybe tell the guy to think before he speaks. In print? No excuse.
Who would you rather have? A fat, smart, honest, dedicated governor or a slim, fit, lying, and narcisisitic president?