The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

We've had our fair share of crazy magazine covers lately. This week, it was Michele Bachmann's crazy eyes on the cover of Newsweek. A few weeks ago, it was the re-imagined and photoshopped life of Princess Diana (coincidentally, also on the cover of Newsweek).

These covers kept readers—and the media—talking. That got us thinking. We looked through the other most-talked-about magazine issues in history and chose the 10 most controversial covers ever.


The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Time Magazine (January 1939)

Illustrated as an organist playing "his hymn of hate in a desecrated cathedral while victims dangle on a St. Catherine's wheel while the Nazi hierarchy looks on," Hitler was named Time magazine's 1938 "Person Of The Year." The magazine has defended its choice throughout history, noting that the title was bestowed to the person who had the greatest influence in the previous year's events.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Time Magazine (April 1966)

Judged by its cover, the issue drew an immediate public backlash. Approximately 3,500 reader letters were sent to the editor — the most responses to any one story in the magazine's history.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Esquire (April 1968)

Depicting Muhammad Ali martyred as St. Sebastian, the cover was done in defense of Ali, who refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army (based, in part, on his religious beliefs).

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Rolling Stone (January 1981)

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the photo was taken after John Lennon insisted that wife Yoko Ono also be featured in the shoot. Later that night, Lennon was shot and killed.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Vanity Fair (August 1991)

Demi Moore's nude pose, captured by photographer Annie Leibovitz when Moore was seven months pregnant, made national headlines and led to countless parodies.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Time Magazine (April 1997)

Ellen DeGeneres revealed she was gay on the cover of Time, leading some American TV outlets to pull her show.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Wired (June 1997)

Printed in the same year that Steve Jobs returned to the company, the cover article delivered 101 tips on how to "fix a once-great company."

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Rolling Stone (April 1999)

The sexy shot of "teen queen" Britney Spears led the American Family Association to call for "God-loving Americans to boycott stores selling Britney's albums."

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

Vogue (April 2008)

Featuring LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen, the cover drew "King Kong" comparisons and questions of racism.

The Most Controversial Magazine Covers Ever

The New Yorker (July 2008)

Intended as a satire on the rumors and accusations that swirled around Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the cover drew disapproval from both Obama and Senator John McCain's camps.