Newsweek Under Fire for Michele Bachmann Cover Photo

Aug 9, 2011 10:20am

ht michele bachmann newsweek cover jp 110808 wb Newsweek Under Fire for Michele Bachmann Cover Photo

ABC News' Amy Bingham reports:

In one short week, Rep. Michele Bachmann went from being called “photogenic” by fellow GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to earning less-than-complimentary descriptions, thanks to an arresting Newsweek cover that has led to accusations of sexism against the publication from both sides of the political aisle.

The cover shot, which was taken especially for Newsweek, shows Bachmann staring wide-eyed into the camera with a caught-off-guard kind of smile against a bland blue background. The bold white headline reads “The Queen of Rage.” Tina Brown is the magazine's editor-in-chief.

When a voter asked the Minnesota Republican about the cover at a campaign stop in Atlantic, Iowa, Monday, Bachmann said she had not seen it, Slate's David Weigel reported.

"It's a big close-up of you," the voter said, "a wild-eyed photo with the headline, 'Queen of Rage.'"

"Ah-hah," Bachmann said. "Well, we'll have to take a look at that, won't we?"

Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said the cover represents Newsweek’s “special kind of loathing for women conservatives.” And Terry O’Neil, the president of the National Organization for Women, said it was "sexist.”

"It's the combination of they snap the photo of her with her eyes very wide – people call it 'crazy eyed' – plus that huge label they slap on her as the Queen of Rage," O'Neill told ABC News' Matthew Jaffe in a phone interview. "As much as I disagree with everything she stands for, she is a serious viable candidate for the United States presidency and there is no male viable candidate who has ever been treated this way."

While the Bachmann campaign has been tight-lipped about the cover, which hit newsstands Monday, the Internet most certainly has not. The comedy website Funny or Die put up a slideshow of “more appropriate headlines” to go with the “horrifying” photo. Some of the more print-appropriate ones were “Michele Bachmann Takes a Stand Against Blinking” and “Zombies: Michele Bachmann Eats Americas Young.”

But this is not the first controversial cover shot for Newsweek. The magazine featured a photo last month of the late Princess Diana, photo shopped to look older, walking alongside Kate Middleton, in what one tweeter called “the creepiest magazine cover ever!”

The Atlantic Wire ran a story about the cover titled “How Creepy Is Princess Diana's Ghost on the Cover of Newsweek?” and the Los Angeles Times' headline asked of “Newsweek’s "Diana at 50 cover": Shocking, brilliant or just plain cheap?”

The magazine also ignited a backlash in 2009 when it ran a cover photo of Sarah Palin in short runner shorts with the headline “Do you know how to solve a problem like Sarah?” In a post on her Facebook wall, Palin said the cover was “sexist,” “unfortunate” and “out-of-context.”

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the Palin cover was “worse than sexist.”

“I think it is demeaning and degrading and Newsweek knew exactly what it was doing," Perino told Fox’s Sean Hannity. "They made sexuality a part of her performance."

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