Newsweek Sarah Palin Cover Outrage!

Apparently, some folks are irate that Newsweek put a close-up of Sarah Palin on their cover this week and didn’t airbrush away her imperfections.

This, apparently, is “a slap in the face.”

Sarah Palin 'One of the Folks' NEWSWEEK Cover

Sarah Palin 'One of the Folks' NEWSWEEK cover

Critics note that it’s pretty standard to touch up photographs, especially close-ups, to be more flattering and that Newsweek photos of Barack Obama are much nicer, with one even putting a halo on this one.

I didn’t pay much attention to the issue when it arrived in the mail yesterday.  Certainly, it’s not the best image of Palin I’ve ever seen.  If people are looking for evidence that Newsweek is trying to sabotage her, though, the cover story, not the cover, would be a better place to look.

Palin is on the ticket because she connects with everyday Americans. It is not shocking to learn that politics played a big role in the making of a presidential team (ticket-balancing to attract different constituencies has been with us at least since Andrew Jackson ran with John C. Calhoun, a man he later said he would like to kill). But that honest explanation of the rationale for her candidacy—not her preparedness for office, but her personality and nascent maverickism in Alaska—raises an important question, not only about this election but about democratic leadership. Do we want leaders who are everyday folks, or do we want leaders who understand everyday folks? Therein lies an enormous difference, one that could decide the presidential election and, if McCain and Palin were to win, shape the governance of the nation.

There’s much less room for questioning intent here, methinks.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Media, US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. A year or two ago this is something I would have laughed off. However, that was before I got married.

    After a year of listening to my wife ask if her eyebrows look even (and acknowledging that not only did I not notice before she asked, but I can’t even tell *AFTER* she’s asked) I have learned that stuff like this matters to women. A *LOT*. And they notice. A *LOT*.

    I am not in any way, shape, or form prepared to accept that this was done unintentionally. Magazine editors and those who put photos in them are well aware of this. That’s why photos are routinely airbrushed. The decision not to do so here was conscious, and it was definitely meant to portray Palin in a very specific way.

    The intent may not have been truly “malicious”, but there are undertones from the story that “everyday folks” aren’t good enough to do the job. The carryover into the photo’s lack of airbrushing keeps these same undertones, in my opinion.

    At *BEST* this is another example of subconscious bias showing through. Personally, I think that’s being generous and this was completely intentional on somebody’s part.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    And if they’d done an obvious airbrushing job they would have said that they’re “diminishing” and “sexualizing” her. Yawn…

    Surely there are real issues to discuss, right?

  3. just me says:

    I am not sure this in and of itself is a big deal, although I think in light of a photographers intentionally creating a photos of McCain and other covers there may be sine legs to the complaint-that at least some are intentionally using the photo images to make the politician they do not support look poor.

    But I also don’t think it is worth whining about. I don’t think the public in general responds well to the appearance of whining.

  4. rodney dill says:

    If this were an unflattering photo then something could be make of it, but it doesn’t appear to be unflattering to me.

  5. Triumph says:

    If people are looking for evidence that Newsweek is trying to sabotage her, though, the cover story, not the cover, would be a better place to look.

    The quotation you cited actually does the opposite. It basically repeats the McCain campaign assertion that Palin is “an average American” who “connects” with other Americans.

    This is simply not true. If you look at the actual poll numbers, the reaction to her is quite mixed. The latest NBC/Wall St. Journal poll has her favorables at 44% and the CBS poll has them at 40%.

    If more than half the country doesn’t have a favorable impression of her, the connection argument is a bit specious. Most people either have no opinion or an unfavorable opinion of her.

    One of the reason is like because her personal experiences and her references are not really in line with those typical of the country.

    For instance, one theme you consistently hear is that she is from a small town in a rural state and that somehow this is “normal” America–in contrast to centers of urban “elitism.” If you actually look at census data, over 80% of the country lives in metropolitan areas–places like Wasilla are anomalous. So harping on her “small town roots” seems like a pretty dismal strategy to “connect” with a largely urbanized populace.

  6. Michael says:

    Critics note that it’s pretty standard to touch up photographs, especially close-ups, to be more flattering

    Just out of curiosity, but did Newsweek say they hadn’t touched up this picture? Or are we just assuming that they didn’t?

  7. For a non-retouched close-up, that’s a pretty good photo, quite honestly.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    OMGWTFBBQ…wrinkles, that’s it I’m voting for Obama.

    Cheeeeee-rist some people are just stupid.

  9. Faux scandal. I think the cover shot is great.

  10. sam says:

    I don’t know what the hubbub is all about, I mean, you can’t see the horns in the picture.

  11. Anderson says:

    You saw this TV spot where? On Fox?

    I wonder why Fox is always so quick to find that other news organs are partisan?

    Be that as it may, the subliminal idea of the cover wasn’t “look at those wrinkles!” (& they’re not bad, as observed upthread). It was “let’s take a CLOSE LOOK at Palin.”

    And if Newsweek finds her just a wee bit implausible, well, that could be partisan, or it could just be reality’s well-known liberal bias.

    Compare David Brooks, a Repub the last I heard:

    “[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn’t think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I’m afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.”

    Brooks praised Palin’s natural political talent, but said she is “absolutely not” ready to be president or vice president.

  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alright Alex. How about some answers? How is Obama going to give 95% of taxpayers a tax cut when 40% do not pay taxes? How does Obama plan to pay for all of the promised programs without raising taxes? If you do the math, you cannot. Obama spews empty words. They may be pretty, but he seems to have no problem contradicting himself seamlessly. When did it become possible to talk ones self into the Presidency? For that is all Obama has is talk. No history, no list of accomplishments, nothing. The only executive experience he has was on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Where is that on his resume? You claim to be educated, Alex. Answer one of these questions without asking a question.

  13. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I forgot something. Ayers/Obama 08

  14. sam says:

    Er, Zelsdorf:

    How is Obama going to give 95% of taxpayers a tax cut when 40% do not pay taxes?

    Maybe because the 40% who don’t pay taxes aren’t taxpayers. Just a thought. (Do you ever read what you write before you post?)

  15. Alex Knapp says:

    How is Obama going to give 95% of taxpayers a tax cut when 40% do not pay taxes?

    What Sam said.

    When did it become possible to talk ones self into the Presidency?

    Last time I checked, that’s the only way too do it–persuasion, speeches, ideas, etc. I’m not being flippant here. I’m not sure what you mean.

    For that is all Obama has is talk. No history, no list of accomplishments, nothing.

    I’d beg to differ here. He did some good work in civil rights law and he has a very strong academic background. In addition, in the Illinois Senate he did write and work to pass some significant pieces of legislation. His federal resume is thinner, obviously, but he has worked on some important legislation there, too.

    The only executive experience he has was on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Where is that on his resume?

    I’ve never known him to hide this aspect of his life. I’m not going to defend David Ayers, but as I’ve said before, I think that one unfortunate truth of politics is that you have to work with scumbags to get anything done. Being in Chicago, Obama probably worked with more than his fair share. But every politician has shady associations–even criminal ones. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

  16. I don’t get it. Is the photo actually unflattering? She looks pretty much like she usually does, which is an attractive woman in her 40s.

    This isn’t like the Atlantic photo shoot of McCain where the juvenile and hyper-partisan photographer intentionally positioned the Senator to make him look old.

  17. carpeicthus says:

    Speaking as a professional photographer, if they’d wanted to make her look bad, they wouldn’t have shot her like this. It’s a close-up, sure, but still with a flattering telephoto perspective and a classic clamshell portrait light. If you want to make her look bad, you get five feet closer to make her nose and ears look huge or do what Jill Greenberg did to McCain and don’t fire the top light.

    Fake scandal.

  18. rodney dill says:

    Fake scandal.

    just like the ‘This One’ comment.

  19. just me says:

    He did some good work in civil rights law and he has a very strong academic background.

    Yes and Mr. Constitutional law professor thinks he has a line item veto. I don’t have a law degree, but even I know that.

  20. sam says:

    Yes and Mr. Constitutional law professor thinks he has a line item veto. I don’t have a law degree, but even I know that.

    Know what?

  21. Steve Verdon says:

    Alex and Sam,

    Maybe because the 40% who don’t pay taxes aren’t taxpayers. Just a thought. (Do you ever read what you write before you post?)

    Sorry you guys are wrong. I’ve been reading through the tax policy center’s ananlysis of McCain’s and Obama’s tax proposals and I don’t see how you can get cuts for 95% of taxpayers no matter how you define tax payers…if we are looking at marginal rates. Obama is using a clever lie here and you two are falling for it hook, line and sinker. What Obama is saying is that he is going to cut the tax rate that would cover 95% of the taxpayer population. However due to the convoluted nature of his tax plan the number of people who actually see a decrease in their marginal and average tax rates is much lower.

    The funny thing is that according to the tax policy center under Obama’s plan they esitmate that 85% of households would see a decrease in their effective marginal tax rate. Why the need to lie? I don’t know, maybe you should do a series of posts, Alex, on how Obama is a serial liar…he is a politician after all.

    Linky

  22. Michael says:

    Steve,
    I believe sam was just pointing out the contradictory terms in Zelsdorf’s comment, which I was also planning on doing until I saw that he had beaten me to it.

  23. Steve Verdon says:

    Michael,

    Actually I think you still need those 40% still in there for Obama’s statment to be true. After all he is gutting their tax rates. Zelsdorf’s point that 40% of these people aren’t paying federal taxes is relevant in that any tax cut for them really isn’t going to do much unless it results in money going to them…a transfer. Which if badly structured, and Obama’s plan is very complex, can have adverse impacts on things like work effort, and hence output.

    But who gives a shit. I’m just an economics dork who actually gives a crap about incentives. I’m not some jackass running for public office who is going to blow sunshine up the voters collective asses.

  24. Michael says:

    Actually I think you still need those 40% still in there for Obama’s statment to be true.

    Steve,
    You’re thinking far to hard about this. Sam was merely making fun of Zeldorf’s wording that 40% of tax payers are not tax payers.

    But who gives a shit. I’m just an economics dork who actually gives a crap about incentives. I’m not some jackass running for public office who is going to blow sunshine up the voters collective asses.

    Well, you could always do something about that, ya know.

  25. Jay In Dallas says:

    What’s the problem staying on topic here? The question is whether this photo was meant to be malicious in any way. (Which I don’t believe it is) I agree with those here who could care less about how she looks. Looks and rehearsed speeches are all we have from this woman. There are more important issues at hand. And how does a picture of Palin translate into Obama’s tax proposal? Is this some distraction so we don’t peer too closely at the VP pick and her skeletons? Take some Ritalin get some focus and go find the right blog and the right context for your rhetoric!

  26. kay says:

    A co-worker of mine told me about the Palin cover so I went to the book store to check it out for myself. Yeah, it’s bad…and I’m 99% sure it was on purpose.

  27. kjr says:

    This IS important in the fact that news agencies are no longer attempting to impartially portray the news, they want to make the news, influence the populace and subtly sway the population. As an experienced marketing materials preparer, it’s often what is not said, and which photos are chosen that relay the actual message itself not the words used to fill in the space. Most of the general public is not aware of this.

  28. Michael says:

    This IS important in the fact that news agencies are no longer attempting to impartially portray the news, they want to make the news, influence the populace and subtly sway the population.

    At what point in our nation’s history has that ever been different?

  29. Shadus says:

    She looks like she always looks, an aging attractive woman. I think its a more attractive photo than your average over air-brushed beauty queens.

    That being said, her problem isn’t her looks, her problem is being a fundamentalist christian nutter. I’m a traditional conservative and I was planning on voting third party to express my general disdain with the choice of Obama or McCain, but the chance of her ever being president is making me seriously consider voting for Obama just to help ensure that there is no way she could ever hold the office of president. It honestly scares the everliving crap out of me. The direction the republican party has taken in the last 12 years or so is absolutely sickening, they’ve abandoned all of their core values and sold out to the religious reich.

  30. Suzann says:

    Im a woman and I think they need to stop worrying about the cover and read the freakin’ article. First these(the ladies on Fox) are the same type of women who get upset if models are airbrushed so that it hides the imperfections. Make up your mind. Sarah Palin knew she was getting photographed… knowing that you would think she would have waxed her upper lip or whatever. If she didn’t care, why should anyone else?