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Jewish World Review May 23, 2003 / 21 Iyar, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Editors dabble in history, fiction


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Not much is left of John F. Kennedy's good name, at least as a family man.

To read what President JFK allegedly said he'd like to do to all the starlets in Tinseltown -- at least according to Frank Sinatra's valet -- you'll have to unseal the classy plastic wrappings of what's left of Playboy, which once had more important people to interview.

And don't look in the June Atlantic Monthly for details of the 19-year-old intern who serviced Kennedy's needs when he couldn't make it to the starry bedrooms of Hollywood and Palm Springs.

Atlantic takes a higher historical road in "JFK's Second Term," an article drawn from "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963" by historian Robert Dallek.

Dallek, whose research led to the recent "outing" of JFK's intern, focuses on how JFK was not merely becoming less trusting of his military advisers and thinking about getting out of Vietnam in 1963. He was -- at least according to Dallek's wishful reading of the archives -- also ready to kiss and make up with Castro and declare war on poverty at home.

Over in Vietnam, Kennedy was as devious as most presidents are when messing around overseas, but Dallek works overtime to justify/spin JFK's actions and motives.

Even when JFK asked New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger to pull David Halberstam from Saigon because of his negative reporting, Dallek reads it as being done not to quash criticism but to "avert demands for escalation" of the war.

Speaking of the poor N.Y. Times, its fallen and crucified reporter-fabricator-liar, Jayson Blair, makes the cover of Newsweek, which is owned by the same people who own the Washington Post.

Students of fine journalism might recall that in 1981, the Post's Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer for a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict who turned out to be a fiction of her imagination.

Thanks to the Weekly Standard, we are reminded of what the then high-and-mighty Times wrote in an editorial back then, as a way of scolding the Post for its sins against truth and honest journalism.

"When a newspaper lies, it poisons the community. ... The lie -- the fabricated event, the made-up quote, the fictitious source -- is the nightmare of any respected newsroom. It's intolerable not only because it discredits publications but because it debases communication, and democracy."

Finally, there were a few surprises earlier this month at the 2003 National Magazine Awards. Many of the usual -- and deserving -- suspects got their awards, including Atlantic Monthly (for general excellence and public interest), The New Yorker (reporting) and Sports Illustrated (profiles).

But three new faces -- Foreign Policy, Parenting and ESPN The Magazine -- were honored. And The Nation, the country's only notable left-wing political magazine, won for commentary for Katha Pollitt's columns.

The Nation, The New Republic and Mother Jones -- all often-excellent left-liberal political magazines -- each have won a few times over the past 33 years.

But isn't it funny? No important non-liberal think magazine -- not Commentary, not Reason, not even William F. Buckley Jr.'s nationally influential National Review -- has been worthy of an award from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Maybe their thinkers just can't spell or write very well, or something.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

05/16/03: The Old Grim Lady gets covered
05/09/03: Political parties fighting over Iraq's wreckage
05/07/03: 10 minutes with a big-city Dem mayor who loathes budget deficits, the federal highway program, taxpayer-funded sports stadiums and the meddling (and aid money) of Washington
05/02/03: Are you sufficiently terrified?
04/29/03: Finally, a president defending American principles in the Middle East ... 10 minutes with Alexander Haig
04/25/03: Newsweeklies starting to lose interest in Iraq war
04/21/03: There's bias, and then there's bias
04/11/03: Planning future of Iraq, world
04/04/03: Newsweeklies come back with graphic look at war
03/28/03: Newsweeklies try to keep up with TV war coverage
03/26/03: Wen Ho Lee whistle-blower says beware of China
03/21/03: America's ready for war ... and peace
03/18/03: Baseball limping, not dead 10 minutes with author Andrew Zimbalist
03/14/03: Vanity Fair gets us ready for month's big event
03/11/03: A road map for Iraq's liberation devised by James Madison? 10 minutes with James S. Robbins
03/06/03: Iraq war will come and go before we know it
02/28/03: America takes time out for swimsuits
02/26/03: 'We shall be seen as liberators' .... 10 minutes with noted Brit commentator David Pryce-Jones
02/21/03: Terrorism one of many losing battles
02/14/03: Editors planning for the day after Gulf War II
02/12/03: The 'religiosity' of Ronald Reagan 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
02/10/03: Should the shuttle crash be the end of NASA?
02/06/03: Dear Joan ...
01/31/03: Newsweek, Nation ponder pros, cons of Gulf War II
01/24/03: 'Original' ideas follow New Deal philosophy
01/22/03: When handicapping 2004, watch the economy: Ten minutes with Charlie Cook
01/17/03: New Republic fans hatred for SUVs
01/14/03: 10 minutes with Santorum on ... taxes, steel and Lott
01/10/03: Newsweeklies move on to latest menace
01/07/03: The best of the Q&As
12/30/02: Rosie's demise tops list of 2002 highlights
12/23/02: GOP must stick to its principles: 10 questions for ... Bill Kristol
12/20/02: Lott fiasco uncovers bigger problem
12/18/02: Free markets king in Sweden, at least for a day: Ten minutes with . Donald Boudreaux
12/13/02: Corruption of Indian casinos no surprise
12/06/02: Giving credit to young philanthropists
12/02/02: Ten minutes with . Chris Matthews
11/26/02: It's critical to memorialize communism's victims: 10 minutes with Lee Edwards
11/22/02: JFK's secret health woes are revealed
11/19/02: “It's best to contain Saddam”: Ten minutes with Col. David Hackworth
11/15/02: Brushing up on the affairs of a wild world
11/12/02: Make Dems filibuster 10 minutes with Robert L. Bartley
11/08/02: National Geographic: Urban overpopulation is good
11/05/02: The bloody consequences of a broken INS: Ten minutes with Michelle Malkin
11/01/02: Going to pot; thank heaven for media overkill
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10/25/02: Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain, Mad Magazine will never die
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10/18/02: The sniper knocks Iraq off the covers
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09/10/02: 'A failure to recognize a failure': 15 minutes with ... Bill Gertz
09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
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07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald