Most Diabolically Misleading Magazine Cover Ever?

By David L. Brown

We have written much about the activities of climate change naysayers, many of them in actuality puppets whose strings are pulled by ExxonMobil and the like. The mainstream press generally takes a “balanced” approach to reporting on the subject, in which the opinions of climate scientists (who are almost unanimously convinced of the real threat of global warming) are diluted through the words and writings of those running dogs of Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Ag and all their associates.

So today at the grocery store I noticed that the current issue of Newsweek features an “expose” of the climate change coverup that has been bankrolled by self-interested corporations. Was I happy? Was I impressed at their courageous and forthright reportage? Well, frankly no. In fact, I was outraged.

Why? Well, here is the magazine’s cover as it appears this week:


OK, do you start to see why this struck me the wrong way? To the casual glance of tens of millions of Americans as they stand in checkout lines or wander past magazine racks the screaming 60 point headline, to which their eyes are drawn like magnets by the flaming image of the Sun, states exactly what ExxonMobil would like us all to think: “Global Warming Is A Hoax.”

Only those who notice the asterisk and lean close can read the little “footnote” in the lower left of the cover, which begins to put the proper perspective on the story — and even that doesn’t come right out and state that the “naysayers” in question are wrong. To get that message loud and clear you have to actually read the in-depth article inside.

What impact might the ill-considered editorial decision to publish this cover have on the American public? Let’s assume that about one third of our population might catch a glimpse of this screaming image during the course of the week. That would represent more than 100 million. Out of that number, let’s subtract those who actually buy or subscribe to Newsweek. According to the Wikipedia entry about the magazine: “as of 2003, worldwide circulation is more than 4 million, including 3.1 million in the U.S.”

So let’s assume that approximately 97 million Americans who do not read Newsweek (not to even mention who knows how many citizens of other countries) may take a passing glance at this magazine cover. And, they will get the message loud and clear from the screaming headline. And what will they think, with what impression will they be left? “Oh, so it IS true that global warming is a bunch of malarky,” they might say to themselves as they pass on by. “Well, that’s settled at last! Thank goodness, we don’t have to worry about that any more.”

So, why would Newsweek present their expose in a way that conveys exactly the opposite message to what is documented by the facts of their article? First, let’s consider the possibility that perhaps I was being overly sensitive and simply over-reacted to the cover. I suspect not and here’s why: When I first saw the magazine I grabbed it off of the rack by the checkout lane, looked at the footnote, and immediately reacted against what I saw as misdirection. I put the magazine back on the rack, but then reconsidered and tossed a copy into my grocery cart. Arriving home I set the grocery bags on the table for my wife to unpack and had forgotten about the Newsweek copy until she waved it in my face. She had the same reaction I had. “Why, this is misleading!” she declared with outrage and absolutely no prompting at all from me.

Sadly, tens of millions will never look into this deeply enough to see the real message and will be left with a strong impression that somehow global warming is not something to be taken seriously. The opposite of what the magazine actually reports.

I have recorded here my reaction to the magazine’s cover. A quick review of the inside article shows that it quite thoroughly documents the diabolical efforts of Big Oil and all their co-conspirators to sow confusion and convince us that global warming is, to put it as Newsweek chose to do, “a hoax”. To demonstrate the actual thrust of the article, I need only quote the final sentence, which follows a litany of climate change events that are taking place around the Earth: “It’s enough to make you wish that climate change were a hoax, instead of the reality it is.”

Yes, “the reality it is”. The reality that is the exact opposite of what their dramatic cover headline screams to the world. Instead of being disconcerted, the evil geniuses at ExxonMobil were probably delighted when they saw this cover, which trumpets their core message to millions. It’s the kind of publicity that mere money — not even on the scale controlled by the Rockefellers and all their ilk — cannot buy.

Why would Newsweek write this story and then present it on their cover in a way that appears to deliberately contradict their story? If both I and my wife could independently and immediately see the problem, you can’t convince me that the editors of Newsweek could be so dense that they did not realize what they were doing. This is truly a puzzle. Did they do it merely out of the desire to provide “balance” to the story? From a kneejerk reaction to “tell both sides”? If so, they did far more than they may have intended, by skewing the effect far in the opposite direction of the actual facts.

Did they do it from a misguided attempt to be cute? Or, did they do it out of crass cowardice, to mollify advertisers that might be complicit in the sleazy coverup on which they reported? If so, how much is their journalistic integrity worth? Perhaps a Zimbabwean dollar, the value of which is indistinguishable from zero. Or was it merely a matter of stupidity?

Whatever the reason for this travesty, the worst part of this is that the story is an important one that needed to be told, and they told it — but then wrapped it in a cover that makes it appear to be something else entirely.

Shame on Newsweek. Bad dog. No bone for you.

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