Obama Adds Newsweek Cover Story Writing to His Plate

(CBS/AP)
Newsweek scored a coup for its forthcoming issue, which will focus on the disaster in Haiti. President Obama has been drafted to write the cover story.

What better for Newsweek than to have the commander-in-chief of the United States spend his time carefully crafting a few thousand words that put the tragedy in Port-au-Prince in perspective for its readers.

He is a very capable writer, as evidenced by his speeches and books "Dreams of My Father" and "Audacity of Hope." And, Mr. Obama often uses his bully pulpit and the press to build consensus for his agenda.

But does the President of the United States -- overloaded with a massive natural disaster, contentious health care reform, a country in fear of al Qaeda, "fat cat" bankers, an unsteady economy, Iranian nuclear activities, a State of the Union speech, and a host of other issues and duties (such as greeting LPGA golfers) -- really have time to write cover stories?

The cover story may be a one-page editorial written by a White House staffer, and the president provides his stamp of approval. He already has articulated the thematic material for a "cover story," in his speech on Haiti delivered on Wed:

"This is one of those moments that calls out for American leadership," Mr. Obama said. "For the sake of our citizens who are in Haiti, for the sake of the Haitian people who have suffered so much, and for the sake of our common humanity, we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go."

"To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you. We know that you are a strong and resilient people. You have endured a history of slavery and struggle, of natural disaster and recovery. And through it all, your spirit has been unbroken and your faith has been unwavering. So today, you must know that help is arriving -- much, much more help is on the way."

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Given the scale of his responsibilities and complex issues he is juggling, Mr. Obama's time is an extremely precious commodity. Writing for Newsweek is not likely a big time commitment, given his extensive machinery for churning out speeches and missives, but doesn't the president have enough to do without committing to authoring cover stories for news magazines in the midst of a horrific disaster? His attention would be better spent focused on making sure the situation in Haiti doesn't turn into a botched aid effort like Katrina.

The magazine with the president's cover story will be on newsstands on Monday.









Daniel Faber is editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com.
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    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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