Newsweek Magazine’s recent edition shows an unflattering photo of Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on the cover. Both liberal and conservative Women's groups are sharply criticizing Newsweek over how they chose to portray the conservative leader.
Bachmann is shown looking off in the distance, rather than into the camera, with what some have described as “crazy eyes.” Bachmann has been compared favorably with Sarah Palin in her physical beauty, but lighting in the photo makes her appear pale and wrinkly.
The photo's caption, “Queen of Rage,” has also drawn sharp criticism.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Terry O'Neill, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), an organization that represents the interests of liberal women, said the photo is “sexist.”
“Casting her in that expression and then adding ‘The Queen of Rage’ I think [it is sexist]. Gloria Steinem [an activist in the feminist movement of the 1960s] has a very simple test: If this were done to a man, would it ever be done to a man, has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man,” O'Neill said.
When The Daily Caller reminded O'Neill that Newsweek has had unflattering photos of Rush Limbaugh and John McCain on their covers, O'Neill responded, “Who has ever called a man ‘The King of Rage?”
“Basically what Newsweek magazine-and this is important, what Newsweek magazine, not a blog, Newsweek magazine…what they are saying of a woman who is a serious contender for President of the United States of America…They are basically casting her as a nut job. The ‘Queen of Rage’ is something you apply to wrestlers or somebody who is crazy. They didn’t even do this to Howard Dean when he had his famous scream.”
Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at Concerned Women for America, an organization representing the interests of conservative women, agrees with O'Neill that the cover is sexist.
“I agree with the National Organization for Women. It is outrageous to label a woman being full of rage. They would never do that to a man. This is typical of the way they handle women leaders, particularly conservative women leaders. So, most of us have gotten used to that idea, but it's not something we ought to condone or get used to,” Crouse said.
Crouse went further, saying that Newsweek depicted Bachmann negatively, not just because she is female, but also because she is a conservative female.
“It's very sad the way the national media is pillorying both Michele and other women leaders,” said Crouse. They typically do this to conservatives, though. It's amazing to me that they think they can get away with it. Anybody who looks at that picture knows it's not representative of Michele Bachmann - it's a caricature. The description of her is even worse, calling her the 'Queen of Rage'.”
Colleen Holms, Executive Director of Eagle Forum, another conservative women's organization, did not think the cover was particularly sexist but agreed that it was attacking Bachmann's because of her ideology.
“In general I don't think they would've done it to a conservative politician. I don't know that it's necessarily sexist. I'm glad that the National Organization for Women is defending her, but I think, in general, they wouldn't have done it to a liberal politician, they might have done it to [a male conservative],” Holms said.
Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek, defended the cover, saying, “Michele Bachmann's intensity is galvanizing voters in Iowa right now and Newsweek's cover captures that.”
The word “rage” does not appear anywhere in the article, but Newsweek does ask Bachmann about voter anger. “You use the word 'anger.' It's not anger ... Americans aren't expressing 'unhinged anger' ... People are saying the country is not working,” Bachmann explains in the interview.
“There's a big difference between rage and outrage,” Holmes noted. “What Michele Bachmann is doing is not rage ... She's speaking the truth and expressing outrage at liberal policies that limit our freedom and destroy our economy.”
“I think they are more or less trying to use [Bachmann] as a symbol of the Tea Party and by extension trying to depict the Tea Party as crazy and full of rage,” Holmes added.
Bachmann was asked at a campaign stop in Iowa if she had seen the cover. She said she had not seen it. When the cover was described to her, she replied, “Ah ha, we'll have to take a look at that now.”