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. Kate

    How is this news? I guess Tina Brown, being a Brit, is infatuated with Diana. This doesn't belong in Newsweek.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. flower12

    This is just creepy and weird. I don't think that it should cause all the outrage though. People who are outraged by this should seriously consider getting a life.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian B

    I would expect that cover to be on the National Enquirer but Newsweek? I decided about 2months ago that I will not be renewing my subscription; this issue just reinforces that decision. Lately Newsweek has been cheapening itself with hyperbole and shock editorials to the point that it resembles more of a blog than any reliable source of news.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I'm sure that newsweek is crying their eyes out because you stopped your subscription.

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

      it is not that serious

      June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis Galde

      i thought this cover was in horrible tasts, and will not be renewing my subscription again.

      what's wrong with REAL news events instead of made-up fiction?

      June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. opinionated

    When the magazine came in our mail, I thought the computer generated image of Diana was in very, very bad taste. And. . . she would have been prettier than the image projected on the cover.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Looks fine to me.

    People need to lighten up or get a life. One or the other

    June 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      That's because you're an idiot. But look on the bright side: apparently that now qualifies you to be the editor of Newsweek.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kim

    The media is grossly ghoulish these days they went on and on about that wedding no one really thought was relevant to america then they ignored the oil that was spilled in the gulf they still have not been honest in there reports on the status of that. Now there trying to make up some kind of fairytale ending as if Princess Diana is still alive and she is gone probably opening new wounds of grief for her children its just sick and creepy rude ignorant behavior. Not to mention why dont we just leave England affairs and royale family to the people of England why do they keep forcing thereselfs on us anyway. Yes I said it there is some ghouls and trolls on the loose making the people very uncomfortable a bunch of weirdos!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eddie2010

    "aren't just reporting the news" – no, they're making it up. News is now entertainment, just another facet of the never-ending circus. Meanwhile in the real world, people are being bombed in the name of freedom or shot for trying to be more free, depending on the country. Yup, this is the world under the watch of America the superpower. It's going to be a short one though but keep the circus going lest people find out how bad things really are.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Selfish Gene ...Simmons

    Just weird. Just weird.

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

    It's amazing that an American "tabloid" would do something so obscene. The fact that this passed their "pi** test" prior to publication is an embarrassment not only to a wasted "news" magazine, but also a slap in the face to the American people in fron t of the whole world. Whoever was involved in this crap should be fired, but as well all know, money and volume is their game, so firing and cancellations won't be their game. Shame on Newsweek – proving they're nothing more than a bunch of young, amateur "reporters" with no enough on their plates to keep them properly busy. This makes The Daily Mail seem like TIME or the New England Journal of Medicine.

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

    I don't get what all the talk is about. All Newsweek wanted to do was to show what Diana would have been like if she had still been alive and to keep Diana in our thoughts and prayers. What's so wrong with that?? It seems to me that those who are complaining about the article and pictures didn't like Diana and just want something to complain about. We'll never know what Diana truly would have been like now, but what a great way to find out, Newsweek.

    Shame on the rest of you!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robita

    Geez, how is it ghoulish? Some people are so sensitive. What we should be talking about is why the heck somthing so stupid is in a national new magazine. Bad taste? No, just dumb.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phyllis

    Wrong, just plain wrong.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Princess of Kent

    To all of you expressing your resentment of the Royal Family and it's 'privileged' standing in life; have you considered the weight and public obligation of the role. Would you truly welcome the scrutiny and unfair scrutiny in your own lives? To those od you who are so resentful I would say focus on the lack of humanity on this and not material issues.
    HRH, The Princess MHP of Kent.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sp

    why is everyone so angry and taking this personally as if they own Newsweek or Princess Diana. Get over it, people!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Raindancer

    I found it incredibly crass and indicative of how far Newsweek has fallen. I'd expect an article that's in such poor taste to end up in the Weekly World News. Did someone drop TIna Brown on her head?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
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