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. Billo

    It must be a lot easier covering hypothetical news over, you know, reality.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. zaglossus

    Tina Brown was a friend of Di's and is infatuated with Royalty (She gave D-Day type coverage to the wedding of Prince William on her Daily Beast website.) She's letting this teenage girl-like crush for these toffs who never worked a day in their privileged lives cloud her journalistic principles.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. willem

    Ghouls like that dianer lady primarily eat brains. Wearing a motercycle helmet to protect your head is advised.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • das272

      Whatever it is you've been smoking is obviously eating your brain. Time to kick the habit.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. lokii

    Poor taste indeed. "Hey buddy, do you mind if we photographers photoshop in your wife with your mother who coincidentally was murdered by other photographers." Do you mind if we keep dredging up painful memories from your past and not let you live your own life. To the people at newsweek, she's dead, stop trying to line your pockets with gold at someone elses expense. At any rate, I'm glad I cancelled my subscription to Newsweek years back when the quality and integrity started to slip.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Dude, she wasn't murdered. Definitely a tragic figure in history who was abused by the media. But she wasn't murdered. Just sayin.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      The paparazzi did murder her indirectly.........Just to tell the truth

      June 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gale

      Ryan,
      Diana was very much murdered by crackhead photographers chasing her on motorcycles into a tunnel in France. While she tried to escape their hounding, maybe she wanted to enjoy one night of peace after the years of torment. They didn't lay off even at the seen of the accident. They could not help their selves. They had to take pictures of her bloody dying body. They directly caused the accident. Then they took pictures of her dieing.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    She's been dead for over a decade, can we forget about her already? Do we live in the UK? No?? Then who cares?

    June 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jose

    Dianer is a ghoul. That is funny. I wonder what they aare gonna do when she shows up at Buckingham Palace all dead and trying to eat everyone?

    June 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KennyG

    Kinda cute cover...

    June 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ryan

    It's not revolting. It's just uninteresting.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bob

    I would like to know if Newsweek got permmission from prince Charles & Harry to do this hypothetical story?

    June 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bored

    I might expect this of the Natinal Enquirer, but I thought Newsweek had a bit more class.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alisha

    Whats the fuss is about? So what she is on the cover! Instead of thinking that people still miss her and wish she was here.. stupid people making a very BIG DEAL about this!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anne

    It's disgusting to do this to the late Princess' memory. Theorizing about botox and texting? Please leave this woman and her children alone.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cf

    Terrible cover. Not for the premise, but for the awful Photoshop job. Would anybody really look at this and think it was real? He hat appears to float in front of her head, her face looks flat and shallow and the shadows don't match, and there's the inconsistency of her staring straight ahead while the other woman is engaging in a conversation - couldn't they have found a better source photo so that both women are looking either at each other or ahead? It just reeks of fakery and bad photoshop.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AMO

    In bad taste Newsweek. Why do you insist on living with the "what ifs"? Leave the family alone regarding this sensitive manner. You must have not had any one close to you die a tragic death.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Can the royal family sue!

      June 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AKC

    This might be the tackiest thing I have ever seen done. I am considering no longer being a regular Newsweek reader. This is just totally tasteless and vulgar. Let Diana RIP.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      In the AM I put one channel on MSNBC and watch Morning Joe live, then on my dvr 2nd channel I put it on CNN, then when I am done with Morning Joe I rewind on CNN and watch their morning show. Lately you see a stark contrast. MJ is all about World and US news commentary. The CNN morning group is like the National Enquirer on TV anymore. All about fashion, gossip, Obama worship, etc. My theory on this fascination with the Royal Wedding on CNN is that the lefties there are disillusioned by what Obama hath wrought on this country when they billed him as the Christ-savior, so they are distracting their viewers with nonsense while the rest of the news world grapples with real issues. Before the Royal Wedding the CNN AM show was about ridiculing Palin, replaying any John Stewart clip where he railed on Fox or Republicans, and generally giving their left wing audience more divisive red meat. I'll tell you CNN has really become the most pointless News outlet on tv today. Sad. Fire those two AM women and Velshi already they are all 3 idiots.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
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