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Newsweek Gets Obama to Write Cover Story on Haiti

Magazine’s editor defends decision to give sitting president a byline

Getting a sitting president to write a cover story for your magazine.

Not unheard of, but doesn’t happen every day. Yet that’s what Newsweek editor Jon Meacham was able to do, snagging Barack Obama to pen a piece on Haiti for this week’s upcoming issue.

Newsweek had been prepping a story about Google’s China problem when the earthquake hit, according to the Wall Street Journal. (It helps when you have David Axelrod on speed-dial.)

The move comes after Newsweek’s rival Time got Bill Clinton to author a piece on Haiti, although itself won’t be the cover story.

The right immediately pounced on Meacham with cries of “state-run media.”

In an e-mail, Meacham defended his decision.

"We’ve published Ronald Reagan and John McCain, and we invited George W. Bush to write in our pages," Meacham wrote to Politico. "The occasion for the Obama essay is an international tragedy with humanitarian and political implications. There is nothing partisan about the rescue and relief efforts (Rush Limbaugh disagrees, but I think most reasonable people would agree with my view, not his), and the coming debate over the extent of our rebuilding efforts is one that will shaped by the President. Hearing him on our national interests in Haiti is a way to add value for Newsweek’s readers and, we hope, to inform the debate about what will inevitably be a long and costly undertaking in one of the world’s most blighted countries.”