Nearly two years later, this episode highlights one of the continuing differences between the two magazines, and it’s not one that works in Newsweek’s favor. It’s hard to imagine The Economist soliciting a piece by the president, and not just because it is a British publication that doesn’t use even bylines for its staffers. It’s because, love it or hate it, The Economist has confidence in its ability as an institution to say something interesting about major events. Newsweek, on the other hand, is yet again resorting to the journalistic equivalent of stunt casting—and as any TV viewer knows, that’s what happens when the writers start to run out of ideas.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.