The Sincerest Form of Flattery

No need to read both Newsweek and Time in your dentist’s waiting room this week. Once again, the two newsweeklies have strikingly similar campaign coverage: The cover of Newsweek presents “The Sunshine Boys?”, the grinning, navy-suited John and John (with Edwards in the foreground), while Time introduces “The Contenders” on its cover, the grinning, navy-suited John and John (with Kerry in the foreground).

So ask yourself, do I prefer my Kerry-Edwards Q&A conducted tag-team style by Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe, or would I rather Time’s Karen Tumulty single-handedly take on the Democratic duo? (Campaign Desk calls it for Newsweek by a hair, for its more pointed and issue-focused Qs). Better to read Fineman and Wolffe’s cover story on whether Kerry and Ewards can “convert smiles into votes,” or Tumulty et al.’s cover piece (subscription required) on “The Gleam Team’s” plan to “win the election’s key voters?” (Close call, but Campaign Desk recommends Tumulty, if only because she mostly avoids Wonkette’s/Drudge’s lame “hands on” storyline, while Fineman and Wolffe not-so-subtly allude to it throughout their piece — plus, Tumulty breaks the news that Edwards is a Diet Coke addict while Kerry prefers “the real thing,” Coke.) And if you can only stomach one how-did-he-get-so-far-so-fast profile of that “fresh face” John Edwards, toss a coin. Campaign Desk could discern very few differences between Newsweek’s examination of “The Boyish Wonder,” and Time’s take on “The Natural.”

If you need a break from dissections of the “Dream Ticket,” forego this week’s Economist and make a grab for New York magazine wherein you will find, in anticipation of the Republican party’s convention later this summer, a handy map for a “Republican Walking Tour” of Manhattan. Key stops on the tour include: Rupert Murdoch’s Prince Street penthouse, “where the owner of the New York Post lives with his second wife”*; Fox News’ street-level studio on Sixth Avenue, where one can “watch Shepard Smith speed-read the TelePrompTer”; and, of course, Brooks Brothers’ —“outfitters of Republicans”— first store. (New York may be revealing its own form of provincialism if it thinks Republicans from fly-over country are more likely to buy their front-pleated khakis at Brooks Brothers than at WalMart, but that’s another story for another day.)

And finally, if you were unable to pick up some scalped tickets for last week’s Democratic fundraising gala at Radio City, and reading the press’s second-hand accounts of Whoopi Goldberg’s routine — or Republicans’ indignant discussions of same — has left you wanting more, you’re in luck. Matt Labash “parted with $500 and became a proud Kerry donor in order to gain entry into” — and report on — the event for this week’s Weekly Standard. In a piece titled, “The Bon Jovi Advantage,” Labash displays his knack for the you-are-there detail. “The Dave Matthews Band, who most of the youngsters came to see, refrained from heavy-duty punditry,” Labash writes, “opting instead to prove that white people do the darndest things while dancing, as their fans performed heretofore unclassifiable movements such as Hoist the Shotput, Conduct the Orchestra, and Get Me My Medication.” (Can’t you just picture it?) And, Labash informs readers, “Bon Jovi was the only man in the sold-out venue who could battle Edwards for top Breck-girl status, with his jojoba-enriched locks.”

So it seems there is at least one point on which a reporter for a right-leaning magazine and the men on the Democratic ticket can agree: Kerry and Edwards do have better hair.

Liz Cox Barrett

*Update, July 14: Rupert Murdoch is currently married to his third wife.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.