Newsweek editor Tina Brown defended her magazine's hyper-controversial latest issue in a Wednesday appearance on "Morning Joe."
Newsweek has been slogging through days filled with scorching criticism for its cover story by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson. The article, which laid out Ferguson's case for voting Barack Obama out of office, was immediately trashed far and wide, with everyone from Paul Krugman to Capital New York saying that it was filled with distortions and errors about the president's record, and questioning Newsweek's decision to run the story.
In response, Ferguson defended his figures and accused his critics of lashing out at him because of his political views. This response was met with even more scorn. A top editor at the magazine said that it was impossible to declare who was right and who was wrong, since Ferguson had written an opinion piece.
On Wednesday, the big boss weighed in. Host Mika Brzezinski asked Brown about the most hotly disputed section of the piece, in which Ferguson appeared to have distorted the conclusions from the Congressional Budget Office about the effects the Affordable Care Act would have on the economy.
"Did Niall step in it here?" Brzezinski asked.
"Niall is a swashbuckling, very, very aggressive thinker," Brown replied. She said Ferguson was expressing "his skepticism" about the CBO's conclusions, not saying that this is what the CBO had concluded. "That could have been a little more clear," she said.
She also defended the broader purpose of the piece. "He really has tried to ... have a discussion about the economy," she said. "I actually don't agree with a lot of, most of what he says in the piece, but I think the cover of Newsweek is a place to have a war of ideas, to have battles of ideas, and that is certainly what happened."