Commentary Magazine


Is Newsweek’s Bachmann Cover “Sexist”?

How many Newsweek cover mini-scandals have we been through since Tina Brown took charge of the magazine? There was the one about the resurrected Princess Diana, then Romney as a dancing Mormon, and now finally a supposedly sexist photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann channeling a young Charles Manson. There probably have been some others I missed.

But if there’s a trend here, it’s not sexism. Newsweek has had plenty of women on its front page since Brown took over, and none of them have been portrayed particularly unflatteringly (not even the conservative ones). Still, some conservatives, and liberal groups like the National Organization for Women, have argued this latest Bachmann cover exposes Newsweek as misogynistic. They say the magazine wouldn’t have used such an unflattering photo of a man, or dubbed him the “King of Rage” (Bachmann is called the “Queen of Rage” in the headline).

“Who has ever called a man ‘The King of Rage’?” NOW President Terry O’Neill fumed to the Daily Caller. “They are basically casting her as a nut job.”

“[H]as it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man.”

I don’t know whether anyone has phrased it exactly that way, but is it really that hard to imagine a magazine publishing an unflattering cover photo of a male political figure while portraying him as crazy? If NOW officials honestly think this is far-fetched, here’s a refresher.

Maybe if Bachmann was a mild-mannered moderate, one could argue depicting her as the “Queen of Rage” was motivated by sexism. But she’s a bomb-thrower and an avowed Tea Partier – so why should anyone be surprised she gets the same treatment the liberal media gives all right-wingers, from Rush Limbaugh to Jim DeMint to Glenn Beck? If it’s not sexist for the left to paint these guys as angry or crazy, why should it be sexist for them to do it to Bachmann, too?

Plus, if the cover is evidence of anything (besides Newsweek’s cries for attention), it’s that the magazine’s long-standing anti-conservative bias is continuing. I doubt we’ll see any covers depicting liberal Democrats in such an unflattering light anytime soon. Yes, it’s unfair and despicable. Calling it sexism, though, is a serious stretch.