Ben Affleck 1, Newsweek 0

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The actor recently leveled a very detailed and convincing critique of the fawning, almost celebrity-like profile of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in September. Attending an inauguration ball, Affleck outlined his critique to Politico's Michael Calderone:

Affleck, particularly interested in TARP—which he called "a miss"—leveled harsh criticism at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Newsweek's "King Henry" cover story from September.

"Newsweek, I feel like, is basically culpable for the first [$350 billion]," Affleck said. "They did like this hagiography on Paulson. Did you read that?"

He continued: "They did that and they made it very difficult—it was one of many factors that made it difficult for people to say, [inaud] hold on a second, what is the difference between now and a week from now? Why can't we examine this more closely? Can we talk about this? Why is it that we can't have more transparency in this piece of legislation?"

"It's the same kind of fear and demagoging that was used to authorize the Iraq War, was resurrected to authorize a piece of legislation which then squandered a lot of our tax dollars—tax dollars, in fact, that we don't have," he continued.

"Long and short of it is, Newsweek, in deciding to tell all of America that we all have to put our trust in Henry Paulson, that's like a mediaocracy," Affleck added. "It's presumptuous and it damaged us in some ways."

Newsweek responded this way.

Kudos to Ben for catching us in our tracks. We are responsible for the bailout. And before we apologize, we thought it'd be nice to admit all the other problems we've thrust on you this year. Enough with the posturing, and let's get started. This year, Newsweek was responsible for:

1) That whole Hudson plane crash thing. We should have gone with that cover on goose hunting, after all.

2) This awfully cold winter. As you make decisions about your heating bill or your NEWSWEEK subscription, keep this in mind.

3) Michelle Obama's white ball gown. If only our design team had sent along those sketches we promised.

Get it? Those are things Newsweek is not responsible for. Ha-ha. It's a joke. Newsweek's making fun of Affleck because he's an actor and everybody knows actors don't know anything about TARP, or journalism. That's why Newsweek didn't even bother to address the serious nature of Affleck's comments. Because he's an actor and nobody in the Beltway media take actors seriously when they discuss current events because celebrities couldn't possible understand all the important and complicated facts and figures that journalists do, right?

Perhaps this Newsweek commenter put it best:

Your snarky comments didn't really address Affleck's point. Now I wouldn't say that I completely agree with him, but he isn't exactly coming out of left field with this. I haven't seen much in the way of real, critical, responsible journalism in quite a while, and having some hipster [...] rail against the comments of some celebrity doesn't really break the funk.

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