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. Gomez the Gipsy Guy

    At least photoshop Di in the buff

    June 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Harry

    Bad taste indeed. I could not believe my eyes when I received the magazine Tuesday. Not only bad taste with this "story" but with the frequent colums from ultra racist Nial Fergusson and the emphasis on fashion newsweek should change its name to F&F, Fashion and Fascism Magazine

    June 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bill

    Hmm, do all of you really think Diana is even aware of this, she's dead so it's not disturbing her peace as several of you put it. Also I find it interesting that most of you are so upset a bout the photo but not about the proposed bed hoping the article alluded to, I'd be more outraged about that if I gave a rat's a ss.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dale

    Vile and grotesque. Didn't Newsweek get called out years ago for photoshopping a cover photo? Even so, this is really just vile and horrible and in such poor taste. And this from someone who used to be lauded as The Great Redeemer of Journalism, someone whose every move was front page news in The New York Times. What have they to say now?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jkeller

    I don't have a problem with the article. However being in NEWSweek and the cover no less seems a mismatch to me.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • MacB

      I think you hit on the point that everyone strangely missed. This is a great article for a tabloid paper, but on a cover for Newsweek which is supposed to be a legit news mag? It really shows the desperation of printed media. Hyping the news isn't enough, you have to now search for hot culture topics and try to create some kind of story around it to sell papers. This is unworthy of a news organization.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pathetic

    Ms Brown I'm sure you're a wonderful person but give it up! Your days are morbidly exhausted if you're sitting in front of a computer making 'pretend' images of Princess Diana. Quit now + the readers you still have will probably respect you more in the long run...

    June 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Smyth

    NEWSWEEK just lowered itself to "Space Alien Picture) status.

    Anybody can put a doctored picture on the cover to sell magazines.

    Should have used the graphic car wreck and asked the same question.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WKB

    HEY HEY – HO HO:
    (Preferably to hell!)

    June 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LilyofDallas

    I could really care less, everyone dies and celebs are no different but I will agree this was in bad taste!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stephen

    Good bye, Newsweek. John Meacham did his best, and as soon as he left you jumped right back in the toilet.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WKB

    I should have added +in the old British tradition; God Save Newsweek from Tina Brown. She is literary trash.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SuppaDuppa

    Really? Who cares if she is digital or texidermied. Newsweek is making loads of money from this controversy. I say do a bit about osama bin laden and saddam hussein and their secret love child kim jong il.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Daniel

    Yeah I agree, FIRE TINA BROWN. I thought this whole American obsession with the royals was due to American dogs who just couldn't bring themselves to think they were equal to those filthy people. Now I realize that Americans are getting this garbage forced down their throats by the English working under the disguise of American thought. Disgusting. Not only should we take this woman's job we should take her American citizenship too (she gained citizenship in 2005). Filth like this proves who she is loyal to and that certainly is not the United States.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rich

    What makes me saddest about this is that I am old enough to remember when Newsweek reported actual news, and was a respected publication. All just part of the dumbing down of America I guess, because now it's mostly full of pictures and tabloid crap.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Felix Dona

    Newsweek long ago became completely irrelevant. Tina Brown – possibly the worst choice to try and save it – is, again, completely over her head and apparently trying to fashion the publication after the National Enquirer. It will not work. But then, who really cares?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
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