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People has come under fire for its Donald Trump cover that hit newsstands this week, with several celebrities expressing their outrage and some even calling for a boycott of the weekly magazine.
The newest issue, which came out on Wednesday, features a smiling president-elect in a shiny blue suit and red and white striped tie. The headline reads, “President Trump,” along with the words: “His life, his family and his astonishing journey to the White House.”
In the pinned tweet on People‘s Twitter page, the caption exclaims: “He’s hired!”
— People Magazine (@people) November 9, 2016
In October, the magazine itself made headlines after publishing an account from former reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who accused the then-GOP presidential candidate of groping her during a 2005 interview. The high-profile personal essay came on the heels of the Trump-Billy Bush tape and ushered in a slew of other women who spoke out for the first time to accuse Trump of sexual assault and similar treatment.
When Trump threatened a lawsuit, People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle stood behind his writer and her “clear, credible account of what happened.” He said in a statement: “It is heartbreaking that her fear of retaliation by Trump kept her from reporting the incident when it happened.”
On Wednesday, celebrities and the media were quick to call out the cover story for celebrating the divisive president-elect in its biography of the Trump family and chronological revisiting of election season events. In the online version of the story, the writer refers to Stoynoff’s as the most notable accusation of the 12 women who came forward. The story then pivots to FBI Director James Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, crediting the blow for Trump’s return in the polls.
Asked about the backlash, a People spokesperson sent this statement: “Donald Trump’s win is a history-making news event that warranted the cover of the magazine. The story is not a celebration or an endorsement and we continue to stand by Natasha Stoynoff, whose account of being attacked by Trump in 2005 is recounted in this week’s cover story.”
On Thursday afternoon, People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle sent a staff memo about the cover controversy, which was obtained by Slate.
The memo reads: “I assure you that the cover on the president-elect is in no way a celebration or endorsement of this deeply polarizing figure. And we continue to stand steadfastly by Natasha. … We will never forget what happened to Natasha, and frankly we don’t want our audience to forget, either.
Some readers are sickened to see Trump on the cover. Others are thrilled by it. In any case, it seemed wrong to put anyone other than the president-elect on the cover this week. He was elected president. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
Cagle writes, “Let me assure you that no matter who is in the White House, PEOPLE celebrates tolerance and inclusion. We strive to entertain, empower and inspire our audience.”
The day it hit stands, the country saw nationwide anti-Trump protests across major cities: In New York City, thousands chanted “Not my president” outside his Trump Tower residence; in downtown Los Angeles, crowds burned a giant papier mache Trump head and whacked a Trump piñata.
Judd Apatow blasted the magazine, tweeting: “F— @people magazine. How disgusting. Selling their soul. Soon the happy Donald cover. Sell those mags! F— your employees.”
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) November 9, 2016
“The accompanying writeup is f—ing surreal, with an unnamed Trump ‘family source’ confirming the blindingly newsworthy tidbit that yes, ‘the kids’ are very excited,” writes Anna Merlan for Jezebel. “In the same breath, the writer, Julie Mazziotta, blankly notes that everyone at Trump’s party was chanting ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Build a wall.'”
Actress Zoe Kazan called for a boycott, using the hashtag #BOYCOTTPEOPLEMAGAZINE. “Your own writer was assaulted by this man. Now you look the other way for profit?” she tweeted. “Normalizing him is shameful. I won’t stand for it.”
— zoe kazan (@zoeinthecities) November 10, 2016
— zoe kazan (@zoeinthecities) November 10, 2016
Jon Cryer joined Kazan’s call.
And while we’re at it #BoycottPeopleMagazine
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) November 10, 2016
Gabriella Paiella for New York magazine’s The Cut called out People for treating Trump and his family in a “noticeably more positive light” on social media, highlighting a post of 22 photos of Ivanka Trump and her children and a family portrait of the Trumps to accompany a story about his White House decor plans.
Chrissy Teigen replied to People‘s tweets of the cover and of the Ivanka Trump photos saying, “If I didn’t love you guys so much, I wouldn’t feel so sick. So much for that writer, eh?”
Comedian Emmy Blotnick also replied to the Ivanka Trump tweet saying, “@people go f— yourself.”
@people go fuck yourself
— Emmy Blotnick (@emmyblotnick) November 9, 2016
And Slate‘s L.V. Anderson focused on the Ivanka Trump tweet in its piece, titled: “Amoral People Magazine Is Already Fawning Over How ‘Cute’ Trump’s Family Is.”
When People initially published Stoynoff’s piece, many wondered why it took the magazine so long to come out with the story. In an Oct. 19 column for The Hollywood Reporter, columnist Michael Wolff wrote just that.
“People had firsthand proof the marriage [between Donald and Melania Trump] was something other than what it said it was but drooled sycophantically over the couple anyway,” Wolff writes. “The influence of People contributed to creating the celebrity stature of Trump. Now, with no more information than it had then, it wants to take that stature back. Who’s responsible for what? Who’s less trustworthy here?”
Nov. 11, 3:18 p.m. — Updated with People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle’s staff memo.
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