Barlett And Steele, Formerly At Time, Go To Vanity Fair
The reporters, both at retirement age, lost their positions with a retrenching Time magazine a few months ago, despite being probably the most distinguished reporters there. Their articles, sometimes running 10,000 words, go heavily on corruption in government ranks, and, like the reporting of the late I.F. Stone, rely in part on a close reading of documents that most reporters pay little attention to.
Time, with an excess concentration on gadgets, starry-eyed business stories and an over-preoccupation with celebrities, is not the magazine it was in past years. It is down in circulation from a peak of 4.6 million to about 4 million a week.
Vanity Fair is known for provocative, sophisticated articles, so Barlett and Steele will be right at home. Its circulation has inched up to 1.2 million copies a month.
With mid-term elections just around the corner, and a new, important presidential campaign looming in two years, the domestic focus of the two reporters will be welcome. Foreign news in a time of war is of course very important, but there is certainly room for someting outside Iraq, Iran and the Middle East.
There are two important elections this week, with Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia possibly behind in Democratic primaries.
Time, incidentally, has not been impressive in its coverage of the war in Lebanon. In a ridiculous article last week, Lisa Beyer, its former Jerusalem bureau chief, actually contended that the U.S. should not view Hezbollah as terrorists that we need to oppose. This reminded me of Lord Halifax's desire to negotiate with the Nazis at the end of May, 1940. And surely there must have been Romans who argued all would be well if Rome didn't oppose the Huns. Reporters like Beyer have their heads buried in the sand.