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. Bud Eatman

    It's Newsweek – how is this story any different from the rest of the crap they publish?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Erin

    This is appalling! I can't believe a magazine would publish such disgusting hypotheticals! I don't read Newsweek but certainly won't now! Certainly bad judgement

    June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      Oh get over it.....its just speculative just like the other b/s that newsweek spews.....besides why as a society are we so offended at everything? Lets live and enjoy our short lives!!!!!!

      June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Swelch

    I think that this is a disgrace. Newsweek and all of it's staff involved are hopefully feeling some guilt and shame for this piece. They have no respect for Diana herself, or her family and friends. The cover is disturbing.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. valwayne

    This is nothing but the worst tackiest most digusting desperate attempt to sale a magazine that I've ever seen. Creepy and disgusting doesn't begin to cover it! Newsweek knew what it was doing, they just want to stir up controversy to sell their rag. People should just turn away in disgust. If they find out the will lose money when they engage in this garbage they'll stop doing it!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sitnalta

    I don't think it's that bad, but Newsweek definitely should've been more empathetic.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay

    Not really surprising as Tina Brown is slightly obsessed with Diana...If you google image her there are quite a few Tina Brown/Princess Di comparison photos...and they aren't associated with this article...they're quite old.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ginamero

    The UN just put North Korea in charge of Disarmament...why is this story of a fairytale headlining CNN?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      Well said.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Clint

    Appropriate for some some yellow journalistic rag - not Newsweek!

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

    Waiting for someone to post Diana at 125 years and have it be photo of a skeleton.

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

    While I think that it's quite an odd idea for a news story, it's slightly intriguing. What WOULD Diana (RIP) really have been like had she not died? How would her life have affected the world? These really are valid questions, but perhaps the presentation of the pictures is what is shocking; I do think the pictures were added in poor taste.

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

    Lighten up people, that's why it's called FICTION. Geez, it's just someone imagining what Diana may have been like now. I honestly don't think the author meant to offend anyone.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • lunar

      FICTION should not be in NEWSWEEK, brainiac.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Maria Mercer

    Enough is enough! for God's sake let this woman rest in peace,the papparazy cause the accident and still she is dead and the news still mortifiyng her soul! this is not a tribute it is BALONEY! I will sue the paper......it is sad !!! really sad! is Tina Brown without any ratings? it is uncomprehensible wht this woman is doing please had a little of compassion for her two sons! how you feel if someone is your family dies and many years later a photo ine the news pop up? taking about TACKY!!!!!!! Tina Brown you need another kind of job really!!!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Deep North

    GHOULISH..What do you expect when you keep raising her from the dead?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    Really, some of you people are right...it really *is* a non-issue.
    Read it, or not.
    Your choice.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. torak

    It could have been worse. Supposed they digitally altered photos to show a nude Diana? That would have sold a lot of their magazines but wouldn't it be sort of bad taste?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete T184

      This is in extremely poor taste. You are sick.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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