In a desperate attempt to remain relevant, Newsweek magazine is stooping to new lows during this election cycle with its ridiculous cover photos and illustrations.
The magazine's new cover screams "I WILL PREVAIL," featuring GOP nomination hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Spartan-esque outfits wielding swords and baring grimaces on their faces.
This new lampoon comes just a few weeks after the magazine's controversial Michele Bachmann "crazy eyes" cover photo and their Mitt Romney/Book of Mormon mash-up from the summer.
The silly Newsweek covers are indicative of a larger issue - the fact that the media is covering the election like it's a reality television show. Instead of reading intelligent, thought-provoking debate about what we need in a presidential candidate - or, even better, discussion about whether our electoral system and two-party set-up is really working for us - it feels like we're watching a never-ending episode of True Life: I'm Running for President.
Newsweek said essentially that on the cover of an October issue featuring Romney and Rick Perry. The cover read, "It's ON! America's Best Reality Show."
We need to stop viewing politics as entertainment, a sideshow that takes over every four years and highlights our society's collective inability to process what our political system means and weigh what is important in our leadership. Maybe if we stop celebrating the circus of the electoral process, we'll start getting respectable candidates who we can get behind instead of casting clothes-pin votes left and right.
Glenn Greenwald had it right a few weeks ago, when he wrote about why election seasons are such terrible times for the news business and their audiences:
America's election season degrades mainstream political discourse even beyond its usual lowly state. The worst attributes of our political culture -- obsession with trivialities, the dominance of horserace "reporting," and mindless partisan loyalties -- become more pronounced than ever. Meanwhile, the actually consequential acts of the U.S. Government and the permanent power factions that control it -- covert endless wars, consolidation of unchecked power, the rapid growth of the Surveillance State and the secrecy regime, massive inequalities in the legal system, continuous transfers of wealth from the disappearing middle class to large corporate conglomerates -- drone on with even less attention paid than usual.
Because most of those policies are fully bipartisan in nature, the election season -- in which only issues that bestow partisan advantage receive attention -- places them even further outside the realm of mainstream debate and scrutiny. For that reason, America's elections ironically serve to obsfuscate political reality even more than it usually is.
Publicity stunts like Newsweek's most recent presidential send-up of 300 certainly are not working to expose or clear up that political reality in any way.