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. justmyopinion

    I think for Newsweek, it was stupid, insensitive and extremely bad taste. Shame on you, Newsweek. Seems like you're stooping to new lows and becoming a bottom-feeder with the likes of Jerry Springer and all the rest.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rev. Christie Bliss. Ley

      Straight to the point and well said.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sophie

    I don't know. In spirit, I don't think this is much different from the videos that pair living singers with dead ones ... like Nat King Cole and his daughter.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      At least in that case the daughter clearly approved of the situation. I highly doubt Diana's sons or her daughter-in-law would feel the same way in this instance.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Debbie Rosenwinkel

    Why is this in poor taste and a book with a similar theme by British author Monica Ali (of Brick Lane fame) is receiving glowing reviews?

    June 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Trish

    Hey, can you all do me a favor and visit HelpFaye.ORG , its about a friend fighting for her life... Peace..

    June 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris Honry

    I think over sensitive cry-babies need to get a life.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. boocat

    Newsweek used to be relevant. This is just plain stupid. Of all the things they could put on the cover and they put this on.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Adam

    It's only in poor taste because they assumed she would have owned an iPhone! To assume she would have such a lack of taste and smarts is just wrong! 🙁

    June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      ^ Best, most intelligent comment on here.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Darryn Cooke

    @Mike – you are a troll. What was it like working on Lord of the Rings?

    June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lily

      What does lord of the rings have to do with any of this? Unless your suggesting Suaron killed her??

      June 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    14 years later and the paparazzi vultures still won't leave that poor woman alone.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. note2cnn

    ... what is so brilliant about this (tina brown?)

    any 14 year-old with a Mac could produce this cover.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    The Key contrast between Kate and Diana was that one was an in-bred crooked toothed idiot, and one isn't.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. briteyez44

    this is SO WRONG on so many levels...

    June 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Farhad Heidari

    You should see the comments on the Newsweek site. One of the most tasteless covers I have seen. What happened to Rest in Peace?

    June 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tom

    Well, there she goes again. What is it that the magazine world sees as attractive about Tina Brown? Probably, she sells magazines. While turning stomachs! She made the New Yorker into a ghoulish parody of itself, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when she was gone. I got the latest Newsweek and just sort of looked at the cover....... er, is this People, or a parody of People? Nope, it says "Newsweek" – ick! Then I realized Tina Brown was once again showing us all what poor taste and sensationalism is all about. The sooner she's gone, the better. In fact, Tina, would you please just go away for good?

    June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lav O'Toole

    What else would you expect from a Brit who wrote a bio about Diana
    and is still in love with the royals? If you want to be frivolous, Tina,
    there are plenty of subjects on this side of the pond.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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