Freud, Wired Kids and Gawking at Gawker

Newsweek marks the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with a cover story marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sigmund Freud, while Time makes a play for worried parents (again).

This past Sunday marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Six weeks and four days from now marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sigmund Freud.

Guess which milestone got the cover of this week’s Newsweek magazine?

That’s right,Newsweek this week opted to “ask ourselves: Is Freud still dead? And if not, what is keeping him alive?” Three words immediately spring to mind: Why, Newsweek, why? In order, explains Jerry Adler, the article’s author, to “stake out the high ground before the tsunami of lectures, seminars and publications scheduled for [Freud’s] 150th birthday on May 6.” Before you prattle on about priorities and the like, know this: if it weren’t for Freud, we’d have one less way to explain several important things, including President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Or, as Adler writes: “Without Freud, Woody Allen would be a schnook and Tony Soprano a thug; there would be an Oedipus but no Oedipus complex, and then how would people at dinner parties explain why the eldest son of George Bush was so intent on toppling Saddam?”

See? No Freud, no Woody Allen movies, no Tony Soprano and no invasion of Iraq! Hey, life is full of trade-offs.

For Newsweek readers looking for something more on Iraq three years after the “toppling,” columnist Fareed Zakaria explains why Iraq today is “appalling but not hopeless” (because, Zakaria contends, “You see lots of rough politics and jockeying for power in Baghdad. But when the stakes get high, when the violence escalates, when facing the abyss, you also see glimpses of leadership.”) Also in the magazine, an examination of how “three years after the United States invaded Iraq, the military still has not figured out how to overcome the threat” of “Iraq’s real WMD”— improvised explosive devices.

Over at Time, war-weary staffers also cranked out a pop-culture cover, wondering, “Are Kids Too Wired?” But that’s just to sell magazines (in the vein of past covers peddled to worried parents, such as: “Are We Giving Kids Too Many Drugs?” circa 2003; “[Are We Giving Kids] Too Much Homework![?]” circa 1999, a year which also spawned a “Sports-Crazed Kids” cover story; and, in 2001, one Time cover advised how to “Raise a Super-Kid” while another asked, “Do Kids Have Too Much Power?” Hey, you forgot “Too Fat,” “Too Promiscuous” and “Too Smart For Their Own Good, Darnit.”)

Ever the pesky newshound, however, Time’s Nancy Gibbs kept her eye on Iraq. To mark the anniversary of the invasion, Gibbs posed the question “Was the war worth it?” to “a wide array of experts and thinkers” and, although “many people approached by Time refused to answer,” Gibbs got thirteen responses (nine “no’s” and four “yes’s” — one of which belongs, not surprisingly, to the man who oversaw the invasion of Iraq, General Tommy Franks.) Count columnist Joe Klein in the “no” camp, as evidenced by the conclusion of his online-only piece this week: “The President won’t admit it, but on the third anniversary of his war, the only plausible reason for remaining in Iraq is to prevent an even greater catastrophe.”

At U.S. News & World Report, columnist Fouad Ajami presents some other reasons “why to stick it out” in Iraq (for example: “….better Iraqi polity is within reach.”) before concluding, “We can’t quit Iraq quite yet. We must, instead, recall the mix of fears and interests that brought us there and the threats that had us look for an Arab setting where we could make our stand.” Meanwhile, U.S. News’ cover story is dedicated to pondering, “Can America Keep Up” [with the global economy]?

There are other questions on the minds behind New York Magazinequestions such as, “Ever wonder how a blog is made?” If not, avert your eyes as you make your way along Manhattan’s Crosby Street where, Emma Rosenbaum reports, Gawker Media’s new headquarters will soon open featuring a “plate-glass window” which will “let the passerby view the bloggers a-blogging.”

Just what you’ve always wanted: to gawk at Gawker’s intrepid bloggers intrepidly blogging.

We’ve thought about putting a plate-glass window in here at CJR Daily’s World Headquarters, but then we realized a thoughtless colleague had spent all the petty cash on a frivolous trip to to
report on reporters reporting from Iraq.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.