June 29th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Diana and Kate Newsweek cover blasted as 'ghoulish' and in 'bad taste'

Newsweek and its new editor Tina Brown aren't just reporting the news, they've become the story this week after publishing a computer-generated cover photo showing Princess Diana and Kate Middleton side by side.

The women are dressed similarly, wearing hats, their heads facing toward each other as if they are walking together. The cover accompanies a fictional piece Brown authored which imagines how Di's life might have turned out had she not died in a 1997 car crash in Paris. Another couple of photos inside in the magazine are eye-catching. They are of Diana and the daughter-in-law she never knew wearing similar red dresses.

The issue is pegged to what would have been Diana's 50th birthday on Friday.

Here's a sampling of Brown's take on Diana in 2011: "Gliding sleekly into her 40s, her romantic taste would have moved to men of power over boys of play."

Diana would have had a Facebook page with millions of followers and named "Bridget Jones' Diary" as one of her favorite movies. She would have lived in a New York City loft and been married at least twice to men on both sides of the Atlantic. She would have enjoyed front-row seating next to Victoria Beckham during New York's Fashion Week, owned an iPhone and  been totally devoted to philanthropic causes when not doting on sons Harry and William.

Many have found the digital manipulation of Diana and Brown's imagining of the princess' future revolting.

The London Telegraph called the cover photo "ghoulish" and dubbed Brown "Newsweek's grave robber."  The newspaper supposes Newsweek's motivation was to sell magazines. E! Online wrote a story titled "Bad taste alert!"  Jezebel, which reports on issues related to women, penned a reaction under the headline "Undead Princess Strolls with Kate Middletown on Ridiculous Newsweek Cover."  Mediaite's Lizzie Manning said she didn't take issue with Brown's creative prose. It was the photos that creeped Manning out , more than Brown's writing. Popular blog Cafemom criticized Brown in an open letter to her, addressing Brown as Bonnie Fuller, the American magazine editor famous for print tabloid entertainment.

"You took a woman who has been dead for 14 years and made up an entire story about what she would look like, where she would be living (the Big Apple of course!), what she would be doing (apparently lots of Botox!), and perhaps most importantly, what she would be wearing (Galliano - the anti-Semite - and J.Crew a la Michelle Obama!) ... if she were still alive today," Cafemom wrote. "This is pure brilliance. I've never understood why a magazine called Newsweek would waste its time having reporters write about current events or world affairs when it could simply make up stuff."

The British Brown, new to the helm at the news magazine, formerly edited the New Yorker and founded the Daily Beast. She is well-known for her observations about British politics and culture, as well as American culture.

Wednesday morning, Brown explained why she wrote the story the way she did.

"I wanted to make her a time traveler," she said, adding that she viewed Diana as a "global, mover shaker kind of woman."

"She loved the limelight but she would have professionalized all that humanitarian giving," Brown said. "She would have been very much a woman of our time."

The Newsweek package isn't without straight reporting. The magazine highlights causes Diana championed by tracking how much good they've done after her death.

And the magazine isn't the only media outlet pondering what Diana would have been like at 50. The U.K.'s Daily Express newspaper also published a digitally aged image of Diana's face. It also is not the first magazine to attempt a fictionalized story about a famous and beloved life cut short. In April 2008, Esquire magazine imagined, in narrative form, what actor Heath Ledger's last few days alive might have been like. Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose that year. The magazine's editor at the time insisted the piece was neither stunt nor gimmick.

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soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. V

    I'm sure the author meant well, but the images are just plain creepy.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. anrk

    The idea was intriguing, but was handled so poorly. Brown's article was childish and ridiculous, full of inanities like the scenario of Diana and Carla Bruni hanging out at a party thinking of ways to dodge Silvio Berlusconi. Gosh, Tina, were they drinking Cosmos and talking about how much they spent on their Jimmy Choos, too? How anyone can even take Brown seriously ... by making her editor, Newsweek has left no doubt about how far it's fallen.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      And your opinion is relevant why?

      June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honestly speaking.......

      Speakinghonest, what type of moron reads the comment section if they are not interested in anyone else's opinion? You're an idiot. But that's just my opinion........

      June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • zephyr

      It's an intriguing idea for a graphic novel or a comic book, but not for a professional news magazine.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rick

    Brown proves what an idiot she truly is...

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rennes

    If they wanted to show a age progression of Princess Di, that would be fine. BUT when they show her as if she were walking with Katherine, it is creepy and proves nothing.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. loaba

    D'uh. It was in bad taste.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. missmaine

    Oh people, get over yourself, I thought the article and pictures were right on. She was a public figure and you only wish they were writing about all you. I think she would of loved it, she was a beautiful person inside and out and your only trying to bring her down even in death...shame on YOU all!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alumette

    well, if they have nothing better to do than compare the two women, go ahead. I would however not consider that topic newsworthy or worth reading. Period.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ToniBaloney

    Creepy. I guess Newsweek understands it's days are numbered in the age of instant news, and they're grasping at straws to make it a few more years. Disgusting.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Shameless exploitation aimed at the female fairytale coveting newsstand customer. Perhaps a "what if" essay could have been interesting on its own without a cover treatment and/or hideous photo illustrations, but the over-the-top article they created is POINTLESS and in poor taste ... to say the least. She looks like she's undead and gasping for air on the cover!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jane

    Pretty disgusting way to sell magazines. I hope William and Harry don't see this rag. Will Diana never be left to rest in peace?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • missmaine

      Not the way I would addressed the piece to her ADULT kids who are not longer children, I suspect that have long grown thick skin where the public is concerned. It's blatantly obvious so go away, do you not have any other public friends to make miserable!

      June 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. alumette

    They are grasping at straws for sensationalism and it sucks. Poor journalism in my opinion.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dawnarie

    Come on, it's just a "what-if" piece. We all have speculated about the future haven't we, or how we would change something in the past if we could. It's just a magazine article for crying out loud.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gerry D

    she's so fired

    June 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. toxictown

    I don't care about the delicate sensibilities of the royals and those who love them. What I do care about though, is what this says about journalism and credibility. Granted, no-one really belived that Diana was walking among us again (at least I hope not) but for a supposed "Newsmagazine", they are setting a bad precedent for all sorts of image and story manipulation and further blurring the lines of fantasy and reality.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    Ugh.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
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