News magazine war? Newsweek calls Obama ‘First Gay President’


Take that, Time magazine! The latest issue of Newsweek magazine lionizes President Obama with the headline: “The First Gay President.”

The president is shown with a rainbow halo around his head — a multicolored symbol meant to underscore his beatification by the gay-rights movement.

The cover arrives on newsstands and supermarket checkout stands today, less than a week after Obama announced his support for same-sex marriages. In an interview with ABC, Obama discussed how an evolution in his thought processes — including the fact that his young daughters have several schoolmates with same-sex parents — brought him to this new position.


The Newsweek cover story by writer Andrew Sullivan delves into this “evolution” and compares Obama’s experience as a biracial American to the gay experience in America.

Speculation is rampant about whether Obama’s announcement will hurt — or help — him in the November election.

But this much is sure: The magazine wars are on!

Just last week, Time magazine elbowed its way onto pop culture’s front lines with a cover about a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, with both of them looking into the camera.

It set off a media frenzy, triggering debates about, among other things, attachment parenting, breastfeeding itself and whether Time and the mother-with-a-cause unfairly positioned the young boy on the cover up for a lifetime of ridicule.

Magazine expert Samir Husni told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that while he applauded Time for tapping into a trend and reporting it out in an edgy, provocative way, he was critical of the Newsweek cover. He said he disapproves of using visual gimmicks to make a point, and said he wished the news magazine would stick to facts and reality.

He said Newsweek is struggling for survival in the marketplace, and doing what it can to pull in new readers.

“It doesn’t want to become the next U.S. News & World Report,” said Husni, a professor at the Magazine Innovation Center, Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

He added of the magazine wars: “It’s going to be fun to watch. One thing I am happy about: People are talking about print.”

It’s too soon to say what the cover will do for Newsweek’s subscriptions, although it seems likely that street sales will get a bump. A spokesman for the magazine told the L.A. Times that, since Tina Brown took over as editor in chief, the magazine has seen a 30% year-over-year jump in street sales, and a 27% jump in ad pages for that same period.


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