Newsweek defends ignoring Obama critic’s ties to Bush
Readers don’t need to be informed that a Newsweek contributor who has written critical analyses of the Obama administration was a Bush administration adviser, a representative for the news weekly says.
Since the inauguration of President Obama, former Bush White House bioethics adviser Yuval Levin has written several items for Newsweek, among them an analysis published earlier this month in which Levin argued that the Democrats missed an opportunity to divide the Republican Party by not including tax cuts in the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus package.
“A moderate stimulus bill that offered a short-term boost and included a meaningful tax-cut component, for instance, might have won a very significant number of Republican votes in Congress last winter and launched a damaging internal GOP battle over the proper role of the opposition,” Levin wrote.
As numerous bloggers have since pointed out, Levin’s analysis overlooked the fact that the stimulus package included $280 billion in tax cuts, and still received no votes from Republican congresspeople. That oversight opened Newsweek to accusations of bias.
Now Ari Melber at The Nation writes that Newsweek doesn’t believe readers need to know that Levin was a member of the Bush White House as recently as 2006.
“We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin’s background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin’s recent piece was,” spokesperson Katherina Barna said in explaining why Levin’s byline states that he is “editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center,” but doesn’t mention his links to the Republican Party.
“Does anyone think most readers keep track of White House staff by name?” Melber asks. “Or that readers memorized Levin’s affiliation from March? It’s hard to tell if the magazine somehow believes this argument, or just doesn’t care that it’s not very believable.”
Levin’s specious claims about the stimulus package are not the first time he has been criticized for something he wrote in Newsweek. In February, Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan described Levin’s analysis of the stimulus package as reading “as if we live on Mars.”
How do you write a column about the stimulus package while barely mentioning the only reason it existed at all: the sharpest depression since the 1930s? Yuval Levin managed it. How do you write it without mentioning well over $300 billion in tax cuts from a Democratic president (far more than anything the Republican actually proposed last fall)? Levin managed that too.
In June, Levin teamed up with conservative writer and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol in an article declaring their opposition to health care reform, which the duo dubbed “ObamaCare.”
The American public is right. ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated. … If we do, and this fight goes well, the struggle to save the country from ObamaCare could mark the beginning of a new center-right coalition to restrain the grossly excessive ambitions of the administration and congressional Democrats, with regard not only to health care but to spending and borrowing, and to the role and reach of government more broadly.