ABC News’ Jennifer Parker Reports: Canada’s top news magazine has caused a stir with a provocative cover depicting an image of President George W. Bush dressed as Saddam Hussein — complete with the former Iraqi dictator’s mustache and beret.
The controversial headline to the September 20th Maclean’s cover reads "How George Bush Became The New Saddam Hussein," and accompanies a story by freelance writer Patrick Graham about how the Bush administration has decided to embrace former members of Hussein’s Baathist regime — once considered insurgents by the administration — in an attempt to ward off Iran and al-Qaeda.
"It’s certainly a provocative cover and it’s meant to draw attention to the story itself," said Suneel Khanna, Maclean’s magazine’s director of communications.
Khanna said "there’s definitely been a lot of noise in the public space about the cover," with liberal blogs championing the story and conservative blogs arguing the story has a liberal bias.
"Graham’s one-sided portrayal of Iraq made the New York Times’ coverage look Fair and Balanced," charged Newsbusters, a U.S.-based conservative blog.
"I think it’s distasteful, inappropriate, border line outrageous, and it’s obviously not serious journalism," said Scotty Greenwood, executive director of the Canadian-American Business Council, a U.S.-based lobby group that promotes trade between Canada and the U.S. "This makes the MoveOn.org ad attacking General Petraeus look like kindergarten," she said.
Greenwood said the cover may perpetuate stereotypes of Canadians as left-leaning anti-Americans. "It certainly doesn’t help Canada-U.S. relations when a leading news magazine chooses to do something like this," Greenwood said.
The magazine disputed claims it has a left-leaning bias, but acknowledged the piece has a "point-of-view."
"It definitely has a point of view, as much of Maclean’s reporting does," Khanna said, "but balance and point of view journalism are not mutually exclusive."
Khanna said the magazine hasn’t heard any complaints from it’s 10,000 subscribers in the U.S., who get their copies mailed to them by Maclean’s parent company Rogers Media Inc. Maclean’s is the most popular news magazine north of the border, with 2.9 million Canadian readers.
With reporting by ABC News’ Lindsey Ellerson.