Talking back to Time

Peter Wehner is the deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. He responds to Time magazine’s “end of cowboy diplomacy” cover story in a terrific commentary posted by RealClearPolitics: “Time’s unserious and misleading cover story.” Wehner concludes:

One of the interesting things to observe in Washington is how journalists lament what they often encourage. Members of the media despair about the polarization of politics, even as many of them put a premium on drawing attention to conflict and controversy. They bemoan the obsession with poll numbers and covering politics like a horse race, yet that is what they focus on day after day after day, hour after hour after hour. They speak about the importance of deepening the public’s understanding of the key issues of our time, yet they often build caricatures and toss out simplistic and misleading labels like “cowboy diplomacy.”

The American media is a large, varied, and vital institution, and it consists of many smart and honorable people. At its best, it is (in the words of Walter Lippmann) “like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision.” But too often, it fails at that task. It takes away, rather than adds to, our knowledge and insight into events. This is certainly the case with Time magazine’s current cover story.

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