Here at NEWSWEEK, we like to think that we help set the agenda for the national conversation. But this is ridiculous! In his remarks at a town hall in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, President Barack Obama helped set up a combined defense of the stimulus program/pitch for health-care reform as follows:
We're happy to be the president's rhetorical device—Gross's second law of journalism holds that the only thing worse than being attacked in the media is being ignored in the media. And it's hard to imagine President Obama being startled by anything. But, in our defense, we'd note that the cover's declaration of the recession's end is punctuated by an asterisk that warns "Good luck surviving the recovery." The article notes—as Obama's speech does—that the discussion surrounding the end of the recession is largely a technical discussion ("GDP growth alone can't feed a family, or a pay a mortgage") and that we face tough economic times and a recovery that will feel a lot like a recession. The article then goes on—as Obama's speech does—to discuss the impact of the stimulus package passed in February and the importance of health-care reform to the economy's longer-term health.
It's common to hear journalists complain of being overworked. And in this case, it's true. In addition to writing the first draft of history, we seem to be writing the first draft of the president's speeches.