3:46 pm Aug. 22, 2012
Capital co-creator Tom McGeveran wrote this article for our once-a-week newsletter, where you will get notes from editors, links to our top stories, exclusive deals, and news about Capital. Sign up for the newsletter here!
This morning, Newsweek editor Tina Brown was on "Morning Joe" to answer questions about this week's cover story by Niall Ferguson, an argument against the reelection of Barack Obama.
Brown only glancingly addressed the substance of the voluminous critiques of Ferguson's piece, which misrepresented a Congressional Budget Office report to arrive at its conclusion. Instead, she presented the article as a useful conversation starter.
"He really has tried to do what I think the Republican Party wishes was happening right now, which is to have a discussion about the economy," she said.
Unfortunately, the conversation generated by Ferguson's piece is almost entirely about Ferguson and whether he has his facts straight. Ferguson, even as he returns his critics' fire, says as much: "They have not addressed any of the arguments I have made in the piece so I will dismiss them pretty briskly today," he told Bloomberg TV in his only interview so far about the article.
It's worth noting the absence of any real defense of Ferguson by credible conservatives. As liberal columnists make a meal of him, where are the usual Obama critics leaping to defend Ferguson's argument, or his facts?
Forbes writer James Poulos came out early with a positive appraisal of the article, but hasn't been heard from since; same with the conservative blog Hot Air. Conservative political consultant Robert Lee has only really said the Newsweek cover doesn't help conservatives, and doesn't address Ferguson's arguments or the criticism he's gotten. Dave Weigel of Slate, whose politics are unpredictable but certainly not liberal, called the whole thing a "tedious waste of media real estate."
Is this really the discussion the Republican Party "wishes was happening right now?" And is it something Newsweek really wants to take credit for?