Lord knows I’m not a fan of Michelle Bachmann, whose politics I would best describe as “opportunistically insane,” nor have I avoided commenting on her crazy, crazy eyes in the past, because, damn, the lady brings the crazy eyes. For all of that, this particular picture of Ms. Bachmann on the cover of Newsweek seems a cheap shot to me. If it had been my magazine, I wouldn’t have used it. I might have chortled when someone suggested it, but then I would have said, yeah, okay, we’ve had our fun. Where’s the real picture? Because I’m not twelve, you see.


158 Comments on “GAAAH”

  1. Consider the possibility that this *is* the real picture because all the rest were *worse*.

  2. It’s Newsweek. They pull this stuff with Republican politicians all the time. “We are all socialists now”, remember? Basically, the thing is as thin as an e-zine and just as relevant.

    Definitely a cheap shot, but I expect nothing better from a once-fine publication that is now both worthless and pointless.

  3. This is a picture of her, it is unretouched, whats the issue?

    Find me a photo of here where the basthit is not leaking out and I might see some, minor quibble. If you want to be really scared read her own words.

    She is a big follower of Francis Scheffer, who see all of mans problems stemming from the Renaissance. No, seriously.

  4. Yeah, ditto. She’s nuts, but Newsweek has done better covers of Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh!

  5. Meh if she didn’t want a publicity shot of her looking crazy, then she should have tried not to look crazy in her publicity shots.

  6. I think the problem with picking a picture of her that doesn’t make her look insane is that she’s actually insane. Or, as you put it, “opportunistically insane,”

    That’s the look she thinks works best for her message. I’m sure if asked she would say that picture shows the righteousness of her vision for America.

  7. PJ:

    Then you go to the wire services.

    I agree she’s a bit nuts, but there are plenty of photos where it doesn’t look like she’s strangling a kitten just out of frame. Crazy eyes aside, she is a more-than-attractive woman. It’s not hard to find a better picture of her.

  8. Rush is media savvy enough to make sure he gets approval of the cover. Most GOP politicians, not so much. Remember the Atlantic’s cover of McCain during the election? GOP politicians don’t seem to get the full extent to which they’re behind the curve on this sort of thing.

    Contrast this to Rolling Stone’s infamous cover of Obama with a halo around him.

  9. Yeah, it’s a cheap shot—even if, judging by things she’s said, she really does seem as bat$*#t crazy as that cover makes her look.

  10. From the shadows it seems they intentionally over-lit her face to get that shiny-cheeks, heavy-shadows thing, not to mention exaggerating her facial lines and making her makeup stand out. The more I look, the more I think the entire shot was intentionally set up to look bad. It’s not so much choosing the bad shot, as designing a bad shot.

  11. I agree. I would think that if a person has the ability to earn a law degree as Bachmann has, she would gather a few brain cells and think prior to making a public statement.

  12. Agreed about the cheap shot… I’m over the hyperpoliticization of every damn thing. She’s a lunatic and deserves to be put out of office quickly, but, dear Newsweek, please rely on the facts please and not 7th grade antics.

  13. Newsweek is still in print? That’s nice, I think.

    I agree with El Scalzi, though- if they’re still a news magazine, then choosing a deliberately unflattering photo of the cover subject is not good newsmanship. It’s been a long time since I read Newsweek, though. If they’ve switched from news to political commentary, it’s a pretty funny picture.

    I mean, that’s a studio portrait, done by a real photographer, not something someone snapped at a rally. Why on earth would her ‘people’ allow that picture to see the light of day? She does HAVE ‘people,’ doesn’t she? Or maybe she’s like Sarah Palin, and her ‘people’ hate her.

  14. MY EYES!!!

    Wow. Yes, she’s a nutbar par excellence, but seriously. Whoever was in charge of that cover should be fired. She may be a looney, but she’s actually kind of pretty.

  15. Meh. Newsweek is irrelevant; they’re just trying to get market share by using the same tactics that the British tabloids use.
    Next thing you know, they’ll be featuring a “page 3 girl”.

  16. strange
    where is the outrage when the GOP does this with: obama and a cig or hillary?
    both sides have degenerated to the lowest common denominator. should we be surprised? no.
    but in the end, we should expect this of the DEMs, they have to play the same game that the GOP is playing or they will keep losing.

    “YOU LIE!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  17. I’m just surprised and a little angered that she even made the cover of Newsweek. Seriously, when are people going to stop treating her like she’s a serious presidential contender? Or, y’know, a serious politician…

  18. My wife asked, upon seeing the photo, “If you hang it on the wall do the eyes follow you around the room?”

  19. Jason, if you think she isn’t a serious presidential contender then I think you don’t grasp how much influence the Tea Party has over the Republican party right now, and just how crazy they are.

  20. Tina Brown took over Newsweek last year, and she believes in selling magazines through making a buzz (as opposed to delivering dependable product). Covers like this make a buzz.

    Re: Jason #21
    I believe she is going to win the Ames Straw Poll, so like it or not, she is a serious contender for the Republican nomination. Perry is probably going to jump in this week, and I expect him to soon blow her out of the water (we Repubs like our slow-witted Texas governors with good hair). But until that happens Bachmann and Romney should be fairly considered as the two front-runners for the nomination.

  21. I’m with Jason @21. She gets a great big picture on the cover of Newsweek. To the extent to which Newsweek is considered bigtime mainstream media, it’s pandering to the current fad of making important celebrities out of kook politicians by even giving her that. Crazy eyes aren’t going to negate the credibility boost.

  22. OMG, the crazy just *radiates* out of that picture, doesn’t it?

    She looks only marginally less crazy in her campaign’s official headshot:

    That said, looking like one of the Stepford wives on crack should not be a reason to not vote for her for president. Her reactionary agenda, failure to understand the constitution, and all-around wingnut-ism are reasons to not vote for her.

  23. Most of the journals photoshop the eyes of their subjects and have for a long time. Save your scorn for the newsources that deliberately misrepresent what candidates actually say.
    As for Bachmann, she appears to me to be seeing Jesus, not throttling a cat.

  24. Tony Dye:

    It’s a news magazine — she doesn’t get a say. Some mags might extend the courtesy, but it generally goes along with other conventions of photojournalism, like not having to get releases signed during a fire fight.

  25. Did y’all not notice the headline? “The Queen of Rage”? That picture is perfect for the headline. Let’s be honest: she’s not a valid presidential candidate. She is fun to talk about and she makes great headlines. That’s about where her relevancy to the Presidential race ends. We have a long way to go to the actual election. I, for one, welcome discussions about any other GOP candidates not named Huntsman or Romney for a while. We’re going to get awfully tired of their names before this is all done. Might as well be crazy-ass Michelle for a bit.

  26. John @29 – Hmmmm, fair point. Looking at them side by side, it’s not much of a contest. Perhaps I was projecting my opinions of her agenda onto all images of her, or maybe when she squints it keeps the crazy from leaking out so much :-).

    Jared @30 – excellent point about the headline, and many folks made good points about the ultimate goal of a magazine (sell copies)

  27. @Jeff #28
    If she’s sitting in a Newsweek studio for a cover story photo she definitely gets a say. It’s her image, and she’s the one who agreed to the shoot and everything about it. Basically, she could either negotiate a flattering photo or tell them to get their own shot from a rally or the wire services or something.

    Also, I think calling Newsweek a news magazine is very generous at this point. They don’t even offer much interesting news analysis or news synthesis, nevermind actual news.

  28. Jim C and Mr. Scalzi, in Jim’s picture she looks like she has no pupils. Still not a good look for her, but more unseeing than crazy. Which could still explain some of her politics…

  29. Photo goes well with the title. Title is obviously not friendly, why should the picture be?
    As for political commentary, well, the GOP’s answer to one of the sanest and thoughtful presidents in a while has been playing political chicken and pandering to extremes. Sorry if I can’t feel sorry for her. If the debate were still on a level playing field, maybe john’s point would be valid. In the current climate, frankly, not so much.

  30. I don’t know exactly what it is (but it’s probably the eyes) but I had to scroll that picture off my screen before I could even think about reading what John had to say about it. Make it stop.

  31. I say we’ve got more important things to worry about than Michelle Bachmann looking the crazy. Like what she and every other member of Congress hath wrought (or failed to) that’s leading us into years more of an economical downward spiral.

  32. I think this is just the latest symptom of the disease of politics becoming too interesting.

    I for one would support a separation of state and charisma of any sort, whether it be Obama’s smooth-talking late night Jazz radio host charisma or Bachmann’s “I will eat your eyes! I will eat your goddamn eyes! Behold the power of the risen Lord, ye sinners!” charisma.

    In fact, I would prefer some kind of boorish Kryptonian Science Council style of government if it would mean less of this.

  33. My favorite Bachmann photo is still the one where she’s peeking out behind some bushes to watch a pro-gay rights rally. Hilarious and sad all at once.

  34. A quick review of googling “portrait close up” image results shows that the majority of images have the colored disk of the iris of peoples eyes partially masked at the top and bottom by their eyelids. A rare shot will have white exposed on the bottom of the eyes. I saw only one that had white exposed along the top, and that was a model acting shocked.

    her lower lids creep up to the black of her pupils, which is odd as well.

    The photographer or post processing lit the crap out of her with a flash or spotlight or something. The shadows of wrinkles are very distinct, so maybe a spotlight or a single point flash off to the side. You would normally bouce the flash off the ceiling or a large diffuser to spread the light out to avoid this.

    it would be mildly interestin to see what a brightness histogram of her face in that image would be. It looks like the photographer may have saturated the whites in some spots. If someone had the energy to load the image photoshop, it might also be interesting to see if Photoshop auto-white-balance would shift the color space a little. her skin tone has a slight off-tone of some kind. like when you take a shot in flourescent light and the camera doesnt compensate.

    As for whether there is a ‘right’ way to show how crazy she is, whaaah? You realize that the republicans will out the identity of your undercover CIA operative wife if you decide to speak the truth about their insane war plans? They will lock up and torture for months an american soldier who released classified documents and tapes that show the brutality of their wars? they will lean on foreign governments to arrest Julian Assange on any charge possible to try and get him into the US ‘justice’ system?

    Choosing a badly lit photo seems bland by comparison.

    oh and first right winger to complain, I will simply point out that the founding fathers pulled stunts like this and worse. Paul Revere’s depiction of the Boston Massacre doesnt just use bad lighting, it completely changes the facts of the event.

    Here’s the problem I have. Right wingers are willing to use tactics that the left generally considers off limits or poor sports or bad form or whatever. and the Right just doesnt have those kinds of limits. And then when the Right and the Left try to resolve some disagreement, you get results like we did with the ‘debt ceiling’ fiasco.

  35. Jim C @26, Scalzi @29: Just goes to show how subjective the process of judging a person’s photograph is. I think she looks a little off in the picture that Jim C linked to, and definitely disturbing in the one Newsweek used, but I agree both judgments might be because of my own previously formed opinion of Ms. Bachmann.

    Billy Quiets @ 31: Anyone who ODs on botox is not going to photograph well, IMHO. ;-)

  36. Not as bad as their digitally-aged Diana for the Royal Wedding. I agree, Newsweek is irrelevant these days.

  37. I think we should keep all politicians in a box, allowing them to communicate only via text messages. We would have some better, more thoughtful outcomes. [meh! GET OFF MY LAWN!]

    I don’t care what my politicians look like (more or less… although I have a feeling that OP image of Bachmann and the one of Pelosi linked above will cause me to oversubscribe medicinal tonics in the coming nights)

  38. I have the misfortune of being from the town in Iowa where Michele Bachmann claims to have spent her young life, despite moving away as a child. She’s been everywhere here, and I can honestly say she looks more sane here than she does at her meet-and-greet events here in person. Seriously, I just want a presidential candidate who doesn’t look like a zombie plague carrier. Or perhaps a candidate who does not look, and act, as though they are controlled by a swarm of parasitic nanobots. Is that too much to ask?

  39. One other point.

    John thinks this is a bad photograph, because he looks at it from the perspective of someone who (a) can take a decent photograph, (b) has posed for publicity photographs, and (c) is not batshit crazy.

    Perhaps, John, you need to consider this from the perspective of a batshit crazy evangelical tea-partier who believes her husband is not in the closet because he tells her so. (i other words, she is batshit crazy, and delusional about most everything). From that perspective, Mrs B probably thinks this photograph is TEH AWESOME!

  40. For a Democrat, John, you sound a lot like a grown-up. Would that both parties had more like you.

  41. Maybe it’s an intentional distraction from the shallow suckupiness of their coverage of her.

    Just months ago, Bachmann was the butt of jokes on late-night TV for her flawed grasp of U.S. history. But all that changed one night this spring when she took the stage at the first major GOP presidential debate with the middle-aged, drab men running for the nomination, and set herself apart with poise and precision. When others meandered or waffled, she shot back with answers that reduced Washington’s dysfunctional gridlock to understandable soundbites.

    Her “understandable soundbites” were also dishonest soundbites, but Newsweak — like most of the supposedly-liberal corporate media — can’t be bothered to check facts when it’s ever-so-much easier (and safer) to report on the horserace. Which is part of why the tea party types aren’t out there burning effigies of the Koch brothers et al, instead of taking their funding to protect corporate welfare and the lowest tax burden on the rich since the last depression.

    Yeah, the cover shot is lame. But the article far more than makes up for it. Not that her supporters see it that way, of course, enjoying yet another excuse to play the refs that their team’s backers already own.

  42. Dr Jim @ 27: As for Bachmann, she appears to me to be seeing Jesus, not throttling a cat.

    Are the two mutually exclusive?

    tonyC @ 49: I think we should keep all politicians in a box, allowing them to communicate only via text messages. We would have some better, more thoughtful outcomes. [meh! GET OFF MY LAWN!]

    Is that Schrödinger’s Government or a Chinese Roomocracy?

  43. Sam MB @ 6

    Is Time vs. Newsweek really anything more than Coke vs. Pepsi?
    I remember the furvor over Time’s OJ Simpson booking photo.


  44. Matthew @24
    I subscribed to Newsweek the issue Tina Brown took over. I was a Newsweek subscriber for years and years in the late 20th century, but dumped all subscriptions for a while as the new millenium kicked in. You are on point about Brown creating a buzz. The cover shot is not surprising–now. Newsweek is a shadow of its former self, sadly. I chalk the change up to print media taking it on the chin from digital media. Once us boomers are gone no one will care to hold a tree-based magazine in their hands. All will be digital.

    Anyone with me that we need a Constitutional Amendment that Presidential campaigns can be only five weeks long start to finish? Like they do in the UK when Parliment is shut down and new elections called? I am so sick of electing a President to watch our newsmedia launch within months the next presidential election cycle. And they do it everytime now.

    As for the cover photo on Newsweek, I am with you Sir Scalzi only meh–who cares yet? The election is in late 2012. This is still summer 2011. Time enough to care later.

  45. it certainly isn’t the most flttering photo the lighting/shadow make the crow’s feet stand out- but IMHO not a particularly bad photo either – she looks her age, and I’m not sure if she is smiling or not – but her current official photo:
    appears to be retouched (a lot) – she looks younger than her 2007 official photo:
    I’ve seen plenty of photo’s of her with that ‘deer in the headlights’ look and/or w/ a unfocused/vapid expression that would be far worse.

  46. Does anybody remember the cover scandal with O.J.Simpson, when it was Time magazine that altered the photo and Newsweek didn’t (at least not in an extreme manner). This is nothing new in politics. Some times it is just an opportunistic choice of photograph, such as with the famous photo of Michael Dukakis in a tank that sank his career — though that wasn’t a journalistic photo so it is less egregious. But other times there are very definite photo selection or altering in order to emphasize a certain viewpoint.

    Also worth reading is Photo manipulation (Wikipedia).

    And the National Press Photographers Code of Ethics.

    For this Bachman picture, it appears to be both altered (which in itself isn’t necessarily bad). Look at the hair near her shoulder, it certainly looks off. But it also appears to be a poorly composed photo; her gaze is upward and her irises and upper eyelid do not have the typically-pleasing overlap; nor is her smile relaxed and natural. Also her face is straight into the camera, rather than slightly to the side which will look more pleasing and less aggressive for most people that are not models. In any photo session, or anybody, there are going to be lots of photos with poor composition or facial expressions. But the good photographers throw those away and only keep the fair/pleasing ones. So I’d say this is a poorly chosen photo, or at worst an intentionally chosen photo that emphasized an unnatural aggressive or surprised look.

    As for everybody making comments about how this confirms their belief that she is crazy; well, isn’t it rather funny that Mr. Scalzi actually has a reasonable opinion here and is not conflating his liberal biases and his sense of visual fairness.

  47. Deron @ 59:
    As for everybody making comments about how this confirms their belief that she is crazy …

    Um, “everybody” who?

    Some folks expressed their belief that she’s crazy, but I didn’t get the impression they needed any more confirmation. I also see a number of comments noting that they think she’s crazy but the photo seems unfair to them.

    Darn those biased liberals!

  48. Ah, Bachmann. The unhappy intersection of Botox and crazy. Honestly? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an image or video of her where she looked (or sounded) like she was in the sane’s neighborhood.

    So glad I canceled my Newsweek subscription several years ago. My girly shriek when I found this in my mailbox would’ve been heard on Mars.

  49. it certainly isn’t the most flttering photo the lighting/shadow make the crow’s feet stand out

    Oy noez! Middle-aged human being looks like a middle-aged human being on cover of a national magazine. Perhaps the question we should be asking is this: Is this so shocking because we’ve drunk so much of the ageist, sexist cultural Kool-Aid we just assume that every headshot of a woman in public life is digitally nipped, tucked, lifted and spackled?

  50. I’m not sure if this cover is better or worse than the photoshopped cover they did featuring Mitt Romney’s head on a white-socked, jumping-for-joy Urkel impersonator. You know, I used to subscribe to Newsweek. It’s kind of sad seeing this magazine continue it’s long twilight march towards outright tabloidsplation.

  51. John Scalzi@#29:
    The picture you linked to is substantially less crazy-looking, actually. She hardly looks crazy at all.

    No, she just looks like she got her eyes done by the same people who applied Johnny Depp’s guy-liner with a caulking gun in the last PoTC movie. If “Help, I’ve been mugged by angry drag queens with mascara wands” was the desired effect – mission accomplished!

  52. I’m sorry, Craig @#65, who are you quoting? Most reader’s are going on about the crazy eyes, but you picked out one quote about crow’s feet from one commentor to make a generalization about what “we” all think.

  53. This bat(*&% photo just got 68 (and counting) entries in a very popular blog. I suspect highly that Newsweek would be happy with that.

  54. Only if posters are now running out to buy Newsweek, Alisha. Is anyone here actually going to do that based solely on this blog post? I doubt it.

  55. Eh, it’s what they do.
    Conservative – photo with crazy eyes; Obama – gazing into the future or a photo with halo, alternating months.

    If Newsweek mattered, people would probably care.

  56. Shihaya@#68:

    If you live on a planet where women in public life don’t have their clothes, hair and appearance commented on to a degree males seldom, if ever, do – I’d like to join you there. FFS, Michelle Bachmann (like Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) are middle-aged women. Their skin is no more baby arse smooth than Barack Obama’s or Mitt Romney’s.

    Perhaps we need to just get the frak over whether they’re wearing enough concealer on their “crazy eyes”, or the sociosexual implications of their pant suits, and focus on their policies.

  57. I think that given the headline they choose, the picture is a fair match. Not a fair portrayal of her (though she usually looks like she is on drugs/about to murder someone) but it doesn’t look like the article is intending to give her a fair shake. Personally I think she is an odious, ignorant, true believer (which all the worst connotations the term carries) but that a straightforward interview with her and a generic photo (which still would look pretty damn crazy) would let her own insane rhetoric condemn her to any intelligent reader rather than having to provide the subtext (not that it is very sub) that ‘this is a crazy woman who believes crazy things and wants to destroy everything that gives our country its unique character’.

  58. I just want the uncropped picture that includes the strangled kitten. On second thought I think she just trying to stare the kitten to death, or waiting for the lasers to engage.

  59. She’ll get no sympathy from me. She’s brought it on herself by being a very public lunatic who gives normal lunatics a bad name.

    I’m enjoying this.

  60. She can’t help herself. Crazy-eyed is her default condition. Showing her any other way (assuming you could even FIND a picture that did) would be dishonest.

  61. craig@65:
    “….we just assume that every headshot of a woman in public life is digitally nipped, tucked, lifted and spackled”

    if I see 2 (allegedly contemporary) photos of a 55 yr old and in one she looks 55 and in the other she looks 40 guess which one I am going to assume is altered??

    have you seen her ‘official’ headshot? either it has been photoshopped or it was take 10 years ago.

    maybe my bias is showing – – on the newsweek photo she looks 55 yrs old (and is) I don’t think that is a bad thing – I do however suspect that SHE would not fin the photo to be flattering, otherwise why would she alter/have altered her official photo to airbrush out the wrinkles?

  62. The saddest part of it, is that photos do in fact influence voters. Just like out of context soundbites. We are easily influenced by these snatches of impression.
    And everyone, media, lobbyists, and politicians, are going to take full advantage of our lazy impressions of people.
    PS – I think the one on her website is scarier. She definitely has the dead soulless eye thing going on there. At least the Newsweek one is probably out of her control. She (or her rep) chose the soulless look in the other one.

  63. Well just take a look a Rick Scott the Governor of Florida , he seems to share that look quite often in photos

  64. maybe my bias is showing – – on the newsweek photo she looks 55 yrs old (and is) I don’t think that is a bad thing – I do however suspect that SHE would not fin the photo to be flattering, otherwise why would she alter/have altered her official photo to airbrush out the wrinkles?

    Well, yeah… Perhaps I’m biased too – 39, my partner turned 66 yesterday – but I’m not grossed out by the idea we all hit a point where we don’t look like fresh-faced teenagers any more. Deal with it. (And I find it rather ironic that some of the worse perpetrators of this digital ageism are fashion magazines edited by women of a *cough* certain age.)

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your official campaign portrait to not look like you got snapped by a camera phone first thing in the morning. But there’s a difference between flattering lighting and a bit of powder to take the shine off your nose, and digital manipulation so obvious – and obviously fake – it’s kind of creepy. How can you expect people to take you seriously when you won’t even pay yourself the courtesy?

  65. She does have the crazy eyes, but she also appears to be staring intently at a point about six inches above my head. Given her star turn delivering the unofficial state of the union rebuttal facing a different camera than the main news feed, this may become a defining trait for her.

    I’m guessing the Queen of Rage / Crazy Eyes cover (a) sells a few more issues of Newsweek and (b) reinforces her claim that the liberal media hates her, further enraging her core supporters. Symbiosis of a sort.

  66. Strangling a kitten???

    bah. she looks like she’s drowning government in a bathtub….

    That’s why she’s smiling…

  67. I’d be seriously worried if this was, perhaps, the best shot of the hundreds they probably took. This makes me worry about the possibility of her presidential portrait…

  68. Begs the question, would they do this sort of thing to a male politician? If this was Michael Bachmann instead of Michelle, say, would they have put a bad picture like this on the cover? I am thinking not.

  69. That’s what tthe moonbat looks like. If anything, she looks a little saner than she normally does.

    Makes one cringe as a Minnesota resident.

  70. Beth @ 75:

    The article is online. It doesn’t give her a fair shake, but perhaps not in the way you mean. It glosses over her demonstrated dishonesty, ignorance, and mean-spiritedness and makes her sound interestingly controversial instead of extremist.

  71. It’s definitely a cheap shot, and one that will provide plenty of “the unfairness of the liberal media” ammunition for the Victimhood Complex of the far Right, and it reminds me why I don’t bother to have a subscription to Newsweek anymore.

    No sympathy from me for her, though. She takes puh-lenty of cheap shots herself, and often at the wrong targets, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when she gets smacked around a bit by her own lack of image control.

  72. During my time as a professional journalist I never would have considered such a photo of any newsworthy person who is engaged in public debate and service.

    Having said that, man did they nail her!

  73. Jim C. was being nice by picking one of her better pictures form the site. Basically the image is the same expression she’s wearing on her main campaign page,, albeit Newsweek is a full-frontal, and her campaigned softened the crazy by taking it from her “good side.” But it’s the same expression.

  74. I was a little put out about the world’s scariest preppie being depicted with a “crazy eyes” picture, but then I discovered that it was included in the end of 2083: A European Declaration of Independence.

    So maybe it’s the same thing: the picture has Crazy Eyes because they just can’t help having Crazy Eyes.

  75. When I was a young sports writer/editor here in South Georgia, the whole John Rocker mess erupted. Quick version: prominent pitcher for the Atlanta Braves makes racist and generally insensitive remarks in a Sports Illustrated story, moral outrage ensues. When Rocker was ordered to undergo a psyche evaluation by team uppity-ups, I ran the story with a picture of Rocker celebrating a win with a particularly maniacal expression of both facial and body language.

    I regret doing that to this day, and John Rocker was at least *as* batshit crazy as Mrs. B. He just didn’t hold a political office. As a journalist, though, I crossed the line and influenced what the reader perceived beyond the necessity of pointing out the obvious. I think Newsweek has crossed a similar line both with the picture and the sensationalist tagline. Just tell the story. If the article is done thoroughly, readers will come to their own conclusion about Bachmann and it won’t be pretty.

  76. Well, it does bring out the blue-green in her messianic, staring-into-the-distance eyes, but it looks like something is dripping from her chin…..

  77. I have to say I hope either she or Palin gets the nomination and they decide to run together. I don’t care who gets top billing, it’ll be great.

    I like my crazy in stereo.

  78. I’m going out to buy a kitten, which I will train to only respond to calls of “Crazy Eyes, I’ve got a nice fresh baby for wooo!” Carry on.

  79. I’m with Jean Claude @#100. That’s a campaign I’d tune in nightly for. Mind you, I’m on another continent – it’s all very well to be amused from over here.

  80. Jean Claude at 100:

    So far the only non-crazy Republican running has no chance of getting anywhere near the nomination — Fred Karger. Fox won’t even let him debate.

    Granted, some folks might be tempted to question *his* sanity as well: he’s gay, pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-legalizing weed, pro-energy independence, pro-immigrant, and anti-war … and he’s running as a *Republican*? Sure, he’s an “economic conservative”, but he’s still arguably to the left of most of the Dems at the national level.

    (Some folks think Romney is sane, but he just looks sane in comparison. Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to put their dog into a crate and strap it to the roof of their car for a 12 hour drive is probably not maneuvering with all thrusters.)

  81. Hey, folks – it sure is sweet the way some of you criticize Newsweek for giving Bachmann crazy eyes. It’s almost painful, seeing some of you (including our host) bend over backwards to sound non-partisan by saying “Man, there had to’ve been better, more flattering photos; photos that don’t make her look like she’s nuttier than a jar of Planters.”

    Obviously, none of you have ever seen pictures of her before.

    Because, if you had seen pictures of her before now, you would know that she almost always – more often than not – as a rule – has the crazy eyes.

    The crazy eyes are not a lie.

    The lie would be to give her non-crazy eyes.

    The woman is insane. Completely lost to rationality, reason, and the ability to think logically.

    The Newsweek photo does not lie. It tells it like it is.

  82. CaseyL:

    oh, bah.

    I think your definition of “non-partisan” might be entirely unworkable if you think me calling her political positions “opportunistically insane” fits into the non-partisan bin.

    I’ve seen lots of pictures of her before. She does not in fact look like she’s about to gnaw into my pancreas in most of them, as she does here.

    Newsweek’s decision to use this particular photo for its cover is simply a cheap shot with no redeeming journalistic value. I’m not saying that to be “non-partisan.” I’m saying that as someone who used to work in journalism for a living.

  83. I know someone whose eyes can look a little crazy in photos. This person doesn’t look like that IRL, but it’s hard to get a photo where he doesn’t have the deer in the headlights look. We can’t all be photogenic.

    As to Newsweek going out of their way to make her look bad, who knows, but you can certainly say that they did not go out of their way to make her look good — as they do with politicians that they like.

    This blogger’s side-by-side of Newsweek’s Republican and Democrat covers makes the point obvious enough, I think:

  84. Parker @ 107:

    That’s *some* Repub covers vs *some* Dem covers. It’s not a very useful comparison … unless they wanted to set up the “obvious” results in advance.

  85. I don’t think it’s a cheap shot. A cheap shot would be using a candid shot of her taken in what she thought/hoped was a private moment, or an unfortunate moment in public when it would be pointlessly rude and malicious to take her picture (such as her fainting, choking on her food, or suddenly vomiting while at a fundraising event).

    But this is clearly a shot of her coiffed, made up, prepared, and looking directly into the camera with a controlled, public smile. Sure, they might have found a less blatantly crazy picture of her in their pile… but given that she was clearly posing for a camera in a PR moment, not caught off guard, in her capacity as someone who wants to be US President… I don’t think going for the craziest-eyes one was a cheap shot. I think this is what happens–and what probably SHOULD happen–if you look NUTS when you consciously pose for a camera and smile into the lens in a PR moment.

  86. (Well, “should happen” if you want the launch codes for nuclea missiles, I mean. I’m just a commercial novelist, so I expect people to be a little kinder about choosing my PR shot than Ms. Bachmans, since I never ask for anything but access to the bar.)

  87. I have seen a lot of pictures of Michele Bachmann, because I live in Minnesota and she’s a Minnesotan politician.

    This picture does make her look slightly crazier than her normal crazy-eyed look. But only slightly. The thing that strikes me, looking at the selection I get when I google for images of her, is that when she’s posing carefully for a picture she can usually look relatively normal. Get her talking, though … CRAZY EYES.

  88. John:

    “…look like she’s strangling a kitten out of frame?”

    No, that’s not what we’re not seeing out of frame (if you’ll pardon the double negative). What we’re not seeing out of frame is the goat on the other side of the room suddenly keeling over from the sheer power of her stare.

    Having said that, though, I agree that Newsweek’s use of this photo for the cover is crass and unprofessional. And I say that even though I think Michelle Bachman is crazier than socks on a snake and dumber than a bag of hammers.

  89. This is like that Time cover of Ann Coulter where the lens made her feet look about size 27. I mean, I hate that woman and everything she stands for, but c’mon, why would you use a picture like that?

    As for Michelle “Mad-Eye” Bachmann here: my 4 year old daughter can look like that (eyes wide, head tilted back slightly) if she wants. Her sisters call it her “Creepy Stare”.

  90. It may have been a set up and unprofessional, but it is needed. She needs to be destroyed. Her campaign needs to be destroyed. Her movement needs to be destroyed. Most likely she’ll do it herself in a couple of weeks, but still… why take the chance? We can not let her come anywhere near the white house. It can’t happen.

  91. Having said that, though, I agree that Newsweek’s use of this photo for the cover is crass and unprofessional.

    In which case Michelle Bachmann should only do interviews for “professional” outlets like Vanity Fair, who will make sure her publicist is happy with the retouched cover image before it goes to press. FFS, if this woman is serious about wanting her party’s nomination for the Presidency of the United States she (and her fan club) better harden the eff up – fast.

  92. When China gives you good political advice you know you’ve strayed from the good path.

  93. Using a raw, non-retouched photo like this shows me NEWSWEEK has the balls and integrity TIME lost long ago. This is exactly what Bachmann look s like. No retouching. No spin doctoring. She’s batshit crazy and her face shows it.

  94. Something weird about the balance of that picture: after clipping background and (most of) hairdo, the resulting facial image yields *identical* histograms for Value and Red channels.

    That cover may help Newstweak sell loads of copies[1], but I can’t imagine it helping Ms. Bachmann sell her campaign very well.
    [1] A cry rings out across our nation: “Time to re-paper the dart board!”

  95. I’m sorry, Craig, but no. Crazy eyes does not equal “old eyes.” Holding your eyes so far open that you can see the whites at both sides isn’t an indicator of age. The original commentary had nothing to do with age. It was a photo snapped at the exact moment that she widened her eyes, probably because of the flash shined at just the right angle. It *still* has nothing to do with age. Does thjis mean America isn’t obsessed with a woman’s age? No. It just means it’s not relevant to *most* of the commentors in *this* case.

  96. Michelle Bachmann knew she was being photographed, yes?

    3 possibilities:

    1. She deliberately posed like that

    2. That’s just how she looks normally

    3. She accidentally made that face and the camera caught it in a “Gotcha!” moment, i.e., a cheap shot

    Believing #3 requires you to believe MB is a naif caught unawares by the sneaky photographer, and wasn’t prepared to look like that despite all the *other* pics of her with the crazy eyes. Is that really the most likely scenario?

  97. Seen in the light of their political aspirations, I would have to deem both pictures (Bachmann and Pelosi) as “Boehner-killing”.

  98. Regardless of how bizarre or not this picture is, we should all remember that Bachmann is the comedic gift that keeps on giving and we should enjoy it while we can. Her and that other girl, umm…. what’s her wig…..Palin, have provided this country with enough comedy to keep us in stitches for generations to come. When Bachmann announced that was running for president, I laughed and laughed and then I kneeled down and gave a little thank-you prayer to the comedy Gods.

  99. Whether the photo was a cheap shot or not, we can all agree she’s the Alice in Wonderland queen shouting ‘off with their heads’ kind of crazy. She’s nuts. Crazy. Bonkers. I don’t think anyone can deny that without themselves giving a moonbat crazy eyes stare as well.

  100. Parker at 110:

    Of course I could. That wouldn’t prove anything either. That’s the point.

  101. Reading anything about Bachmann turns ME into “The Queen of Rage,” but… that photo is a really unprofessional move on Newsweek’s part. That’s the photo that gets pinned on the wall of whatever passes for a darkroom these days, with a snarky speech bubble inked in. They should have run a normal photo with the headline, “You Wouldn’t BELIEVE Some Of The Things This Woman Believes,” because that’s the real damned story– not whether or not the weird angle of the photo makes her look like she’s starring in the sequel to 40-Year-Old Virgin.

  102. Well, apparently Newsweek is getting highly criticized for it…and that’s probably translating into sales, which was their goal all along.

    However, the CSM points out that the New Yorker article about her is far more damaging, BethLP. Apparently it goes into length about her history and specficially about her following of ‘Dominionism’.

  103. I have to agree that putting that particular photo on the cover was not the best choice from a journalistically ethical point of view, though it likely sold many more copies that would have a more neutral photo (which gives you an idea of Newsweek’s priorities). It just gives the Tea Party types more ammo when they’re blathering on about liberal bias and the “lamestream” media.

    But… Michelle Bachmann is moonbat crazy, IMO, so I’m not going to invest any emotion in feeling sorry for her.

  104. Bachmann is one of the main reasons I won’t even step foot in my home-town or -county again. Remember the Anoka Hennepin School District 11 is being sued for not supporting its LGBT students (suicides have increased over the years for those who apparently couldn’t Pray the Gay Away), and having suffered silently there for decades and dealt with religious fanatics who resemble the Newsweek cover EXACTLY, I have no fondness for central Minnesota and the dolts who reside there. Their continuing support for this lunatic just shows how far backwards Minnesota has gone in allowing its fear of minorities and common sense to take center stage. The Queen of Rage only represents the interests of Wealth and Privilege, especially her own.

  105. Mr. Scalzi, this photograph does not seem like a cheap shot; it IS a cheap shot. Would Newsweek have run similar photos of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi?

  106. Sihaya@#123:

    OK, let’s do this in small words. I don’t really know why Bachmann’s “crow’s feet” had to be mentioned at all, because (srsly) I don’t find signs of age disgusting or any kind of cheap shot.

    You obviously think I took an out of context snip from a comment to make a bullshit argument. Again, and sincerely, I’d like to live on your planet. I’m more offended by the photoshop culture where it seems women just aren’t good enough without being digitally nipped and tucked and spackled. With all due respect to our host, I’ve worked as a journalist too and I find that much more ethically dubious.

  107. This is the same magazine that chose the occasion of Will & Kate’s North American visit to fill newstands with a surreal cover featuring a resurrected Princess Diana walking alongside the Duchess of Cambridge, so Newsweek’s modus operandi involves neither taste nor tact.

  108. I think the “joke” is that she doesn’t know she’s nuttier than a squirrel turd and is completely fine with this picture on the cover of a national magazine.

  109. I find Michelle Bachmann obnoxious, but would have tried for a better photo.

    We’ve had a Newsweek subscription for years, but won’t be renewing; the shift toward a tabloid sensibility was immediately apparent when the new regime took over.

    They called to do a customer-satisfaction survey not long ago, twice in the same week. I told them that the then-recent “what would Princess Diana think?” issue was what finally pushed me over the edge.

  110. Turns out the jokes were right, that really was the best shot they got

    For the record I live in Australia so I’m a little outside the politcal commentary, everything I know comes from the Daily Show, but you guys seem to have a really high proportion of really crazy politicians. We follow the UK model off having a bunch of really boring but mostly reliable politicians, with only a few crazy ones thrown in for good measure.

  111. Oh, Craig. our condescension does nothing to change your argument. Have a nice life.

  112. It’s just sad that a “respectable” news magazine would resort to such. Blatant bias, makes me never want to read the magazine again, as obviously the editors are pushing their own agenda.

  113. And just for the record, I could never vote for Michelle Bachman, even as a card-carrying Republican, since her husband is out to “cure” gays, which is ludicrous.

  114. @ #144 peabody: Good point. I also wouldn’t vote for any woman who talks about making major decisions on the basis of her deity telling her to submit to her husband’s will. (Nor, to be clear, would I vote for a man who talks about making major decisions on the basis that his deity telling him to submit to his wife’s will.)

    However, I mostly wouldn’t for her because I think John’s description of her politics as “opportunistically insane” is spot on–though I think I’d put that phrase in all caps, viz Bachman.

  115. Newsweek published the outcuts and they are all just as crazy except when she’s adopting an attitude of prayer and trying to look saintly. That’s how she looks.

  116. When someone hides behind religious fervor to justify the subjugation of another culture, should anyone really feel an obligation to make her look good…like ever?

    Frankly after reading over the article draft the E-in-C was probably encouraged to choose a photo that looks as crazy as she sounds. If Marvel Comics and J. Jonah Jameson have taught us anything, it’s that journalism is as skewed as the man at the top. The E-in-C is fraking BOSS and will print whatever the heck he wants.

  117. As I posted on the poll about the cover, the shot wasn’t out of line for an op-ed coverage by a left of center news magazine — the title was.


  118. Sihaya@#142:
    Oh, Craig. our condescension does nothing to change your argument. Have a nice life.

    I do have a pretty nice life, being a man in a profoundly sexist culture who can stand for public office without being treated like a contestant in America’s Next Top Model; where looking every one of my 39 years (crow’s feet and cellulite included) isn’t looked upon as some hideous deformity. Also pretty cool that I can get angry without some misogynist arsehole making a “time of the month” gag, exert authority without being called a ball-busting dyke or castrating bitch and go to work in an industry where there’s no glass ceiling overhead or pay gap beneath my feet.

    So, yeah, pardon me if I still don’t give a rodent’s sphincter about 1) the opportunistic faux-feminism of right-wing pricks who never passed up a chance to make demeaning personal attacks on women they don’t like, and 2) that there’s more serious, and pervasive, forms of media sexism to get outraged over than this non-troversy. If Bachmann and her fan club are going to spin out over this, God help them if she actually wins the GOP nomination and has to face the rigours of a full-scale general election campaign. I don’t think Palin’s strategy of treating democracy like a movie junket is going to work twice.

  119. I think shes a moonbat and I dont really have a problem with a picture that portrays her as a moonbat, cause, well, its an honest picture.

    but the idea that this was the ‘best’ picture of all the photos taken is silly.

    send a photojournalist to take a portrait of a subject (not follow them around on the campaign trail for a few weeks, but go to their house and return with a picture for publication) and they will likely return with 100 frames of the subject.

    the notion that there were only 6 or 8 pictures to choose from and this was the best is just crazy.

  120. Greg, I’ve been photographed several times for newspaper or magazine feature stories and the photogs never took that many shots.


  121. Hmm, are those the eyes of a fanatic or of an over-the-hill pornstar?

    “She may be a looney, but she’s actually kind of pretty.”

    Which probably explains how she got elected in her district.

  122. the notion that there were only 6 or 8 pictures to choose from and this was the best is just crazy.

    You know, Greg, if we were talking about Annie Liebowitz, Naomi Campbell and a small army of technicians and and stylists doing a Vogue cover shoot I’d agree. But we’re not, so I don’t.

  123. But really, is there any way to photograph her where her eyes don’t look nuts? Maybe they tried and this was the best of a bad lot.

  124. I don’t care what she looks like or how she photographs, she is SSSCCCCAAAAAARRRYYYYY. Oh, and nuts!

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