What's new in the New Republic, The New Yorker, and the Weekly Standard.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
June 2 2009 3:59 PM

O, Please

Newsweek on Oprah's huckster guests.

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Newsweek, June 8 Many of the gurus who regularly appear on Oprah may be peddling snake oil, the cover story declares. Suzanne Somers seems to have convinced the billionaire that rubbing plant-derived estrogen cream on her arms is the secret to eternal youth. But what does this mean for the millions who hang on Oprah's every word every weekday, lapping up advice that is often pure quackery? They'll probably just keep tuning in, as "Oprah's show is all about the second and third and fourth chances to fix your life, and the promise that the next new thing to come along will be the one that finally works." An article looks to Yemen's terrorist rehabilitation program for a solution to Obama's sticky Guantanamo problem. The program, led by Yemeni judge Hamoud al-Hitar, aims to engage terrorists in "theological duels" in order to bring them from the Islamist fringe into the moderate fold. The catch? Many of al-Hitar's students couldn't kick their terrorist ways and showed up for jihad in Iraq.

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New Republic, June 17 The cover story, titled "The Puffington Host," reviews Arianna Huffington's new book and traces her career from her days as a "bombastic reactionary" in '70s London to a Gingrich booster in '90s Washington to a "pious progressive" in today's New York. Huffington, whose "fame now approaches her immodest ambitions," has never been much for ideological consistency or even coherence. Her latest work, Right Is Wrong, "is one of those books that is completely irritating even when it is correct," writes Isaac Chotiner. Michael Kinsley pens a takedown of the revamped Newsweek, finding it full of the same old dreck. "The new Newsweek, judging from the first issue, … bizarrely resembles the old Newsweek more than the new Newsweek Meacham describes," Kinsley writes. He finds it particularly bothersome that the magazine has not shed its penchant for half-explaining last week's news, which, he writes "is no use either to those who already know the story or to those who don't."

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New York, June 8
A profile of Si Newhouse reveals a man who, despite being the "opposite of glamorous," ran Condé Nast during the boom times like "a movie studio of the thirties and forties." While his brother was anointed to run the family's newspapers, Si was given the magazine portfolio, which his workaholic father felt had trifling importance. For editors of the company's flagship magazines— The New Yorker, Vogue, and Vanity Fair—"Newhouse isn't just a boss; he's the person who stands between them and a crueler, more pragmatic world. Newhouse believes in talent and the mysteries of creativity. He doesn't meddle. And they revere him for it." A piece interviews a number of economists to ask whether the "downturnaround" is here or not. One economist was heartened by recent indicators, including the uptick in consumer spending and renewed activity in the low-end real estate sector. But economist Gary Shilling and other "permabears" think we are entering a "new era of reduced expectation" and slow growth, a time that won't feel at all like a recovery.

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New Yorker, June 8 & 15 An article in the magazine's summer fiction issue by Louis Menand considers what the spread of creative-writing programs to universities across America means for the craft. In 34 years, the number of creative-writing MFA programs in the United States has grown from 15 to 153. This growth has occurred despite the fact that many creative-writing instructors are "probably grimly or jovially skeptical" of the claim that "creative writing is something that can be taught." Menand, however, holds that he benefitted from workshops in other ways. "[T]hey did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things." Jeffrey Toobin weighs in on Sonia Sotomayor, finding her "a fitting representative of a changed and changing nation." While in the past, diversity on the court has meant choosing people from different geographical regions, the choice of Sotomayor reflects current appreciation for racial diversity.

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Weekly Standard, June 8 In an editorial, William Kristol waits with bated breath for the Supreme Court's ruling on Ricci v. DeStefano. He is hoping for the reversal of what he holds was a "very questionable judicial decision" by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose selection he decries as blatant identity politics. The meandering cover story finds a class schism in the Democratic party and ponders why so many members of the upper tax brackets—49 percent of households making more than $100,000 and 52 percent of those making over $200,000—voted for Obama against their own economic self interest. "Voting for Obama would not be a cost-free virtuecratic nod, but a choice with consequences," the author writes. "The notion that some of the very richest Americans (not all, of course) support the Democrats should no longer be seen as a novelty. … These Croesuses are rich enough scarcely to notice the worst (fingers-crossed) that an Obama IRS can do."

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.

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