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. Thereik

    I anticipated the backlash as soon as I saw the cover. (Newsweek is delivered to our home). It is indeed, in poor taste. One may 'see' what the editor is trying to accomplish but it is unnecessary to go this far. The editor will do well to offer a sincere apology to it's readers which acknowledges that, indeed a wrong had been done to most people with a deep sense of propriety, even in this, our modern times where it seems, anything goes.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. HZ

    It's a stupid story because who gives a damn about how diana would be look like......
    but it's also stupid that some people think this story is offensive and diana was a saint or demigod or something.....

    June 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim F.

      You got it, HZ.
      What a meaningless bunck of BS!!!!

      June 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. American

    she would have had to become a methead/alcoholic to look/aged that bad at 50

    June 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lupe

    why is this newpaper wasteing their time diana is dead end of story.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Why don't you use punctuation?

      June 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JP

    i'll go out on a limb here and say this is what tina brown's mom would like right now if she were here:


    June 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JC

    Just remember that nitwit worked at Vanity Fair, so what do you expect? Trash from trash.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tina

    Just saw this magazine a couple of hours ago at a doctor's office. Creepy! What possessed Newsweek to hire Tina Brown anyway? Are they striving to become "Entertainment Weekly?"

    June 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    A white woman and an Arab should not hook up if they're in love?
    How many lives do you think that they have to live?

    June 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Some people just make believe that we all did not come from Africa, and that most Europeans are part Asian because of the Mongol hoards.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LC Giessinger

    OMGoodness! How pathetic for a senior editor to come up with this hair-brained idea. There are SO many things of importance going on in the world and Newsweek choses to make a 'fictional' story out of Diane at 50?? How stupid. My guess is that she would be too involved with her charitable works to be a part of the 'social' generation. I have just cancelled my subscription to Newsweek.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jonline

    Hated the edition of newsweek.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dawn

    It was tacky and in poor taste and obviously done just for sales. So much for standards in reporting eh?

    June 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hmmm

      They clearly know their target audience.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GeorgeBos95

    Newsweek isn't about "news", it's about fairy tales emanating from a writer's imagination.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Leah

    This validates our recent decision to cancel our subscription to Newsweek.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rh

    I don't think the "aging" looks right, but I don't find it ghoulish. I often wonder about how my mom would look with my children, who were born after her death. But maybe Newsweek isn't exactly the right venue for this kind of "what if?" story.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bandjammer

    Really bad idea!! Leave the dead alone!!

    June 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
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