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. JD

    Very disappointing that Newsweek has allowed this to happen, I would expect this from the Enquirer.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kat

    You can't know what a person would wear, eat, or do once they've passed, because they're gone from this life and there's no telling. Why resurrect ghosts from the past to create a fluff piece cheating as a cover story? Tasteless and plain creepy.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mejazzbo

    This wasn't necessary. No respect what so ever!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kahty

      No it is not bad taste. Give me a break. How many commercials have we seen that use dead celebrities? Remember Bing Crosby dancing in a vacuum? Or Miss Marilyn Monroe eating yogurt? Get over it.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. boomtownray

    I'd like to see a photo like this of Tina Brown a year from now; dearly departed and computer engineered. With her looks, god bless the editor. She is such good fertilizer she will be an asset to any garden. CANCEL ALL NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTIONS unless you're a mindless idiot.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Micon

      I love how people get all upset over a stupid article. Calling for a boycott is so 1990's and photoshopping dead people is not a new thing. Half this country is so brainwashed by the corporate mainstream media and puppet politicians it's ridiculous.

      You call for a boycott of a magazine, but let the government fight in wars on multiple fronts, killing many civilians. War is big money for these criminals and everyone just doesn't care. As long as they got their ipods and reality tv, everything is good. If we truly cared, we'd be marching on Washington demanding the wars to stop and an end to the Federal Reserve. But photoshop Princess Diana and youre a monster?

      The priorities and the attention span of the average American are totally screwed up.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Can't stand it when people figure just because there are big problems in the world we are not allowed to complain about the small problems. Bryan, I'm sure there are things very important to your life that to me are a complete joke and a waste of time.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. boomtownray

    JD – if this gives you something to think about, I pity you. I bet you have one mean trailer!!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    I don't have the best judgement, but this is just wrong.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bills Cat

    So what? What possible difference can this make of the average American working stiff? None. A bunch of soap opera nonsense to keep minds busy while the all the work and money leave the country. Keep watching, folks. Obey! Sleep! Watch TV! Breed! Do not question authority!

    June 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sheila

    Disgusting. But then what else did TIME mag expect from Tina Brown? Even if her entire staff thought it was wrong no one would have stood up and said so. Much too terrified. TIME mag just lost my support...and my subscription will now be cancelled.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • MerelyAmused

      Really, Sheila? I am surprised you could READ the article since it is about "Newsweek" and NOT "Time".

      June 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ArizonaYankee

    Yet another example of how American Media will do anything to sell. They are all bankrupt, save Fox. and will go to any extreme to make money and spread their liberal propaganda...

    June 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MerelyAmused

      Would there were a way to insert a "eye rolling" emoticon here. You just don't want to know what Fox's owner has planned for his UK papers to "celebrate" her would-have-been 50th birthday. Murdoch is not exactly a champion of good taste when it comes to his print properties.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. drew

    It's Newsweek....not exactly a legitimate news source.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jj519

    you are all stupid

    June 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MerelyAmused

    I think people are missing the bigger point which is that, despite her being dead these past 14 years, there is still a huge cult of personality surrounding her. This issue was directed at those who still refer to her in the present test, devour everything written about her and who (quite frankly) might be writing the same stories and attempting the same Photoshop jobs on their home PCs.

    It wouldn't surprise me to hear that William may well have had a similar picture designed for the family as he adored his mother just that much.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. daqllascoia

    It's embarrassing to be an American anymore – we used to have a little class, a little pride, took the initiative in leading the world in uplifting, intellectual discussions and striving to always better ourselves and mankind – we have become nothing but a reality tv joke to be pitied for having sunk so low on the scale of human decency and this tasteless
    piece of immaturity is in one of our heralded news publications........Congratulations, it's official, we've hit bottom and now can continue to act like bottom feeders. How proud we should be, can't wait for future generations to see how history records this period of time.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joeblow

    I feel for her two sons who hopefully don't read garbage mags like these. Low class C R A P..

    June 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. misternomer

    Looks like she's been smoking some crack!

    June 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
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