Jon Stewart was defending Michele Bachmann last week. Yes, in case you don't have a subscription to Newsweek and/or you missed all the fuss, there was some discussion about whether or not best journalistic practices were being used in the selection for the cover photo of the August 15 issue. Does it make her look crazy? Here's what Jon suggested: "Be honest Newsweek. You used that photo in a petty attempt to make Michele Bachmann look crazy. And that's what her words are for. You want a photo that makes her seem a little off? Make it out of her words."
Maybe this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, since "The Daily Show" has made plenty of crazy hay out of any number of images or sound-bites. The first and most immediate difference would be the fact that "The Daily Show" is aired on the Comedy Central Network. The name suggests the attitude. Their lead-in is often cut-out figures of little kids from Colorado with foul mouths. Newsweek, on the other hand, is supposed to be news. It's in the title, after all. In the past month, they have featured Sarah Palin standing amidst a field of hollyhocks with the legend "I Can Win" beneath her defiant look. This came just a week after editor Tina Brown photo-shopped a cover of Princess Diana at fifty. What do you suppose Tina's agenda is? It seems very much like news, does it?
Maybe after all these years of viewing the news through the Jon Stewart filter, I should expect that others would follow suit. Having an editorial point of view seems like a good thing, as long as it can be justified. The fact that the print version of Newsweek now reads an awful lot like the online version, The Daily Beast, with flashy graphics and infotainment seems like clue enough. But why not return to the original question: Is Michele Bachmann crazy? Perhaps not, but some of the things that come out of her mouth sound a little odd: "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."or "I think Thomas Edison did a pretty patriotic thing for this country by inventing the lightbulb," she told a New Hampshire audience in March. "And I think darn well, you New Hampshirites, if you want to buy Thomas Edison's wonderful invention, you should be able to!" Sure, it sounds crazy, but everybody used to think the earth was flat. Some still do. They should be on Newsweek's cover next week.