The Cutline

Did Newsweek choose Michele Bachmann cover photo to make her ‘look crazy’?

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Cutline

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Another Newsweek cover controversy is brewing--and once again, it involves women.

A month after editor-in-chief Tina Brown Photoshopped the late Princess Diana walking alongside Kate Middleton onto the cover of Newsweek, sparking outrage among fans, Brown is drawing the ire of the tea party for selecting a photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for Newsweek's cover that makes the 2012 Republican hopeful look, well, crazy.

The photo of Bachmann, shot in Washington on Aug. 1 by photographer Chris Buck, accompanies a cover story by Lois Romano entitled "The Queen of Rage." (Newsweek tweeted the cover image late Sunday with the #QueenOfRage hashtag.)

Reached via e-mail, Alice Stewart, Bachmann's press secretary, declined to comment. "We are focused on meeting with the people of Iowa in advance of the Straw Poll," she wrote in an email to The Cutline. And Bachmann brushed off a question about the cover from a voter in Iowa.

Conservative media pundits, though, were more than happy to respond.

"Under the editorial control of Tina Brown, the rice paper magazine barely struggles against its bias towards conservative women to view them with anything other than contempt," Dana Loesch wrote on Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com.

It's not the first time that Newsweek has drawn the ire of conservatives--and women--over a candidate's cover photo. In 2008, Newsweek published an extreme close-up of Sarah Palin on its cover, sparking criticism.

"Memo to conservative women," Ed Morrissey wrote on HotAir.com. "When approached by Newsweek or Time for a cover story, always bring your own photographer."

In 2009, Newsweek published an old photo of Palin in running shorts--alongside the coverline "How do you solve a problem like Sarah Palin?"--prompting more outrage among conservatives. (Palin herself denounced the selection of the photo--from a Runner's World shoot--in a note to her Facebook fans: "The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now.")

But critics charge that the newsweekly is using more than just its cover image to editorialize about Bachmann and the basis of her popular appeal. An interior image--featuring Bachmann at a campaign stop and also taken by Buck--was shot from an angle that shows the conservative candidate with devil horn.

"Newsweek needs to be ashamed for propagating one of the typical female stereotypes used to denigrate women," a commenter on Newsweek.com wrote. "If you don't like Bachmann's positions, say so. But to slot her in the typical witch, bitch, nut, or slut memes hurts all women!"

A spokesman for Newsweek declined to comment on the controversy.

Brown defended her decision to Photoshop the image of the late Princess Diana onto the July 4 cover. "We wanted to bring the memory of Diana alive in a vivid image that transcends time," Brown said then in a statement to The Cutline, "and reflected my piece." Newsweek's newsstand sales are up roughly 30 percent since its redesign under Brown debuted in March.

The Newsweek Bachmann cover controversy also recalls a 2008 incident in which The Atlantic apologized to Arizona senator and presidential hopeful John McCain for hiring a freelance photographer--Jill Greenberg--who used a strobe light to create shadows on his face during a cover shoot. "He had no idea he was being lit from below," Greenberg told Photo District News after The Atlantic issue was published.

Greenberg created her own Photoshopped images from the McCain shoot for her personal website, including one of an ape defecating on McCain's head.

"She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images of John McCain she has created for her Web site," the Atlantic wrote in an editor's note. "Obviously, we will not work with her again."

UPDATE: "Michele Bachmann's intensity is galvanizing voters in Iowa right now," Brown said in a statement to The Cutline. "Newsweek's cover captures that."

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