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. Shaking Head

    This is absolutely without taste or news value. Newsweek has an editorial board, a chief photographer for God's sake, an editor at large. Aside from the article and concept being tasteless, who, what audience Tina Brown were you believing would "enjoy" this garbage. Youve humiliated yourself, Newsweek and have given the new Princess her first true, global, embarrassment. The FC image of Princess Diana – computer generated by whom? Did you believe sincerely, honestly, that this was flattering to the Princess and to her surviving family? Didnt you hear the hushed silence when you came into the board room and no one was bubbling over about "how great the FC" is going to be? Didnt you notice the silence?

    "A time traveler" Shes DEAD! for God's sake and youre team made her look like something out of "Night of the Living Dead". Stick to journalism, follow the Economist and leave the illustrations to those who are really good at it.

    Thanks alot...

    June 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pras

    Newsweek, please leave dead people alone. There is more than enough to worry about the living.
    This is just a sample of what Newsweek is about.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bill

    with or without the silly hat? probably looks not bad

    June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MrEee

    Photoshopping a dead person in with someone else aside, the lighting job on Diana vs. whatever-her-name the princess doesn't match, so the picture just looks off to begin with.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tiffany

    I cannot believe any pubication would do this ! It's just disrespectiful. If her family saw this how hurt they would be. Shame on you !

    June 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      I agree completely. Tina Brown has only shown herself to be an insensitive, ridiculous,superficial, emotional intelligence deficient buffoon. How could she have not thought of the hurt this would cause Diana's sons and family? Because her moral conscience is based on ratings, ego, and greed. I am appalled Newsweek would allow this. Any of the responses out there that are attempts to be funny are obviously made by immature, ignorant people.I have never felt so strongly about a magazine cover. It is tasteless and horrific.

      June 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mjg

      But CNN posted a photo of naked women with naked children waiting to be exicutied from 75 years ago. That is sick and shameful.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I agree. It is disturbing on multiple levels. I would support a boycott on this publication.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jimbo

    Poor taste, poor use of technology. Newsweek should change their name to News Enquirer Weekly.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katy

    I don't think she meant to offend anyone or anything of that nature but it is odd and not something I would want to see featured in any magazine.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |

    This is a reply to not just omg....why such an uproar.How can something as great as a mother in law and daughter in law out walking around create such a tizzy.We all loved Diana and regret her ending as it was.Did we not all enjoy seeing Nat King Cole singing with Natalie and Muhamud Ali boxing with his Daughter? And there are probably a few more of the same I can't remember now but they are out there,and no uproar about them.Maybe they could have made Diana look a little better than she looks in that picture but I think Tina Brown had nothing sinister in mind other than a "what if" piece.Much ado about very little I am afraid.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicago Nick

      Totally agree. They do these things all the time. People always have to find something to whine about. They had no problem seeing Michael Jackson in this is it I bet...

      That was actually a little ghoulish I thought, although it was good cinema, because the world never saw Jackson preparing for a show in that way, and frankly had he done that long ago people would have looked at him in a far different light than they did I believe.

      He was a hard working super talented man albeit quite strange, and she was a world beauty who's dearly missed in this world going mad. I think it's nice she's even being remembered.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betty

      I was just thinking about that! How about the video with Bing Crosby & David Bowie performing The Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth? Remember? They even shake hands!

      June 30, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Betty

      My bad. Bing was still alive...

      June 30, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Margot707

      That's called "artistic license," much like the news clips embedded into "Forest Gump" making it look like he really was talking to JFK and JBJ.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
    • melanie

      Did you mean LBJ?

      July 8, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • AceV

      You're kidding right? That was real, Bing didnt die until a few years later. and CGI wasnt even heard of back then. They really sang peace on earth/drummer boy together. I know with all the CGI in the media and movies its hard to tell whats real unless you lived it.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Really???

      David Bowie and Bing Crosby actually recorded that together back in the 1970's

      June 30, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I don't understand what problem you have with that Bowie/Crosby duet and video. It was done about a month before Bing Crosby died. They were standing next to each other–why the heck should they not shake hands when singing about Peace on Earth?

      July 23, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Tabitha

      Hi Richard. Thanks for your comments. I agree. There's nothing wrong with the cover. I've often wondered what it would have been like to see the two of them interacting or even simply walking down the street while being chased by photogs (if Diana would have lived). It's a compliment for her (after so many years) to be so fresh in many of our minds. Good work Newsweek! Thank you.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Richk

      It is in poor taste. Natalie WILLINGLY took part in the Nat King Cole 'collaboration', you're comparing apples and oranges. Also, how convenient that an Apple iPhone is tossed in the mix. Someone should uncover what th terms were for incorporating the iPhone in the photo, would be interesting to know....

      June 30, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Chicalola

      Muhammed Ali isn't dead.....

      June 30, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • StanleyBing

      "We all loved Diana..."

      It's a tragedy that a silly, shallow woman would die young and leave behind two sones, but "love"? No, not all of us are part of the cult of celebrity.

      June 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nora62

      Natalie choose to do a song with her deceased dad..
      I do not think William and Harry were involved in the decision to put Diana like that on the cover of a magazine. It might not be hurtful for us, the audience, but for her close family members who love her and misses her it probably will. Why open all these old wounds.

      July 1, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. CG

    More like Weekly World News than Newsweek.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bonnie

    I saw it- my first thought when I took it out of the mailbox was it was creepy and how far I thought newsweek had fallen to do a cover like that.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cauthorn

    This type of story is hardly a new thing. I recall the "story" done about John Lennon a few years back. While I agree it is not news it does fall in the catagory of "in the interest of the public". After all, if there was no interest in it, then why would someone like Ms. Brown have done it. To sell papers, of course, but the only way that works is if there is an interest in it by the public in the first place. Don't blame Ms. Brown for the interest of the public but rather blame the reading public .

    June 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • DYBO

      Newsweek should abandon the magazine format and change to a newspaper format such as The national Enquirer.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. American Citizen

    Inappropriate. The media should take into consideration the feelings of the two young men that lost their mother.
    ©2011 American Citizen ™. All Rights Reserved.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mary

    Oh , so what.~!!
    Good grief...

    June 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. matt

    She probably wouldn't look that different from what she used to. I think it's ironic how the same technology used to make her age on Newsweek, would've been the same used to make her look younger would she be alive today. It's sickening how the use of technology has transformed women to mere objects, creating pixelated perfections of women that no real woman could look like.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Irene A. Comito

    Extremely bad taste. "New editor" should become ex-editor.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
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