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. octopuss

    stupid. why not to just attach their heads to the famous photo where Cindy Crawford shaves K.D. Lang?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bridget

    Vanity Fair also did this last year for John Lennon's 70th birthday. Of course along with the article there was a sketch of Lennon, rather than a photoshopped image.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mikeminnc

    When I first saw this, I did a double take. It immediately struck me as incredibly creepy. I can't believe this was approved by the editorial team at Newsweek. What an appalling lapse in judgment. Very strange and a very odd way to choose to remember Diana on what would have been her 50th.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. r-hope

    I find this very inappropriate. If Newsweek was having a slow week, they should have skipped publishig an issue altogether. Some boundaries should be kept sacred, even for ultra famous people...

    June 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SparkyL56

    They should have thrown Elvis in there also.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T

    You can't by class.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Delta

      or spelling lessons

      June 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • omg

      showing her naked would be in bad taste, in a hat not so much

      June 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • DAT

      Or buy it.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • elob

      Nor can you buy proper grammar

      June 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lulz

      Or buy, for that matter

      June 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. terrible

    I am extremely disappointed with Newsweek and their choice of a cover story. Diana was an icon and should be remember that way, the good she did for children and AIDs patients was remarkable and touching. With this cover story it makes our country look distasteful and trashy just like all of the gossip magazines and reality TV shows that have become a stable in society. It’s sad and I hope that her son doesn’t see this trash that was published.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patti G.

    Disgusting. If I wanted to read this sort of trash, I'd buy a National Enquirer. As it is now, I will certainly never buy a Newsweek again. Let the poor woman RIP already!!!! Let's photo shop a pic of Tina Brown's head up her backside since clearly that's where her brains went.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Karl

    I feel embarrassed for the long-term professional newspeople associated with NEWSweek, as this is a fluff-fantasy piece that belongs in People or US, and it makes a long-lived somewhat respected news publication look cheap and childish.

    But Ghoulish? I don't see that at all. It's just stupid.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sam in NC

    It is in bad taste. The lady didn't live to be 50 and it isn't important what she would have looked liked if she did. Don't you people have anything better to publish?? And please don't tell me this is the kind of crap your readers want. If it is, then God help us all.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. omg

    digging her up and posting a picture of her decomposed body would be sick, the newsweek story is fine.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Javaman

    I couldn't agree more with the "ghoulish" and "creepy" assessments of the latest Newsweek issue. I'm afraid Tina Brown is also mis-reading the magazine readership's interest in all things British, as well as in all things trendy. Give us the *news,* Tina, not your own overheated fantasies.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MB

    I myself don't see anything wrong in it. To me it pays homage to Diana. I really don't know what the hot hoopla is about – I applaud Tina Brown and her open-mind. If that was my mother, I would be honoured – not bad taste to me. But it is all in the eye of the beholder.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Karma6338

    The picture is horrible. She looks like she has spent the last 15 years.smoking, drinking and druging. I'm sure Di would have done a much better job taking care of herself than they give her credit for.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. vincentvega

    It's Obama's fault!!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
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