Us Weekly's (amusingly) gratuitously aggressive coverage of Sarah Palin has triggered a full-blown culture war! We have some of the vicious hate mail to prove it. (From "Juno.com" email addresses, to lend the whole saga a somewhat literary flourish!) That lady Ted Kennedy killed is invoked. So is some language too hot for Peggy Noonan! Some notable specimens and a message for Janice Min after the jump.
Is Us Weekly biased? That's what Fox News has been saying all morning in light of that "Sarah Palin, Governor of the Rhythm Method State" cover. But (in stark contrast to so many of the other things we hear on Fox News) we did not want to believe Us Weekly had a political agenda, mainly because, as with Fox News, we like to forget that whoever Us Weekly is targeting at is actually allowed to vote. But in the face of mounting evidence that the network might be on to something we gave the issue a thorough examination, and it pains me to report that Us Weekly is biased. So biased. You could be forgiven for wondering if the whole rag wasn't being bankrolled by a big gay homofag! (If not Hamas!!!) Here readers, the evidence:Its owner is Jann (pronounced Yann, like the first syllable of "Yanni") Wenner Jann Wenner not only gives money to Democrats, he has such a hard-on for some Democrats his other magazines have been known to run images of Democratic candidates with sporting actual hard-ons. (Fig. 1) Also, ever since he came out of the closet after in his mid forties, Jann Wenner has been a "known homosexual." Us has a known toxic love-hate relationship with probable neoconservative Angelina Jolie. Despite her estrangement from her Republican father*, Angelina Jolie has persistently refused to tow the typical Hollywood liberal line, telling interviewers she hasn't yet decided which candidate will get her vote in the November election and allowing that she is fond of John McCain. Savvy observers will note, however, that Angelina Jolie's conservative leanings, aired most publicly in her February Washington Post guest op-ed piece supporting the McCain-backed troop surge, actually predate the conception of Bristol Palin's unborn child. Surely Us has been "keeping tabs" on Jolie's political sympathies, and quite possibly applied pressure in the case she threatens to break from the socialist liberal Hollywood homodoxy. Do you think it's a coincidence that their harshest attack on Angelina's fitness for motherhood coincided with the theretofore deadliest form of exactly the sort of insurgent attack the troop surge was engineered to combat? ("Yes" is actually the right answer to that question, just to be clear!) (Fig. 2) Today's headlines speak for themselves. COVER STORY: Sarah Palin: Political Opponent Recalls Being Ridiculed EXCLUSIVE: Cindy McCain's Half Sister: I'm Voting For Barack Obama EXCLUSIVE: Tim Gunn: "No Contest" — Michelle has better style than Cindy Father Of Bristol Palin's Baby: I Don't Want Kids But in fact, Us has been tacitly endorsing Democrat Barack Obama ever since it branded the Illinois senator Just Like Us in February. (No such pronouncement was made of John McCain, whose appearances in the magazine have thus far been limited primarily to his surprise show of support from The Hills star Heidi Montag, which the magazine immediately undermined by quoting Heidi's fiancee Spencer Pratt saying he "didn't think America cared" who Heidi supported.) Meanwhile, when Obama nakedly dodged a question posed by the magazine earlier this year, the magazine managed to "package" it (so to speak) in a way that seemed to paint the Democratic senator in a favorable light. IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, though, the media crit mob is probably right that going all "Kos" on Palin — and seriously, how exactly does a Troopergate cover line sit next to "Halle Berry First Baby Photos!"?? — smacks of hubris and recklessness, if not another outright attempt to distance itself from the heartland and paint itself as the trashy supermarket tabloid of privileged thin Blue Staters who just like killing brain cells. Either way, it's kind of tacky. But um, then, we are the ones who just spent the last hour assessing the policy agenda of Us Weekly.
New York City's favorite gay, orange-hued weatherman Sam Champion, turns 47 today. Us Weekly editor Janice Min is also celebrating. It's her 39th birthday today, which makes her approximately 25 years older than the average Us reader. She isn't the only magazine star who will be munching on cake in the office today: Martha Nelson of People is 56. Other birthdays: Fidel Castro is 82, Danny Bonaduce is 49, and art maven (and heiress) Agnes Gund turns 70. And actor Sebastian Stan, who may be better known as Leighton Meester's boyfriend, turns 25.
Having put the Obamas on one of last month's covers in despair at the absence of celebrity gossip, Us Weekly finally has a genuine celebrity scoop. In a new issue on newsstands tomorrow, the magazine reports that New York Yankee baseball player Alex Rodriguez has been making late-night visits to Madonna's apartment on Central Park West. (OK! has much the same basic story but highlights the two supposed lovers' gym trysts.) The singer, 49, is said to have consulted a lawyer about divorce from her husband of seven years, film director Guy Ritchie; Alex Rodriguez, known to sports fans as A-Rod, would have been eight years old when Madonna released her first hit, Lucky Star.
"Some of the most celebrity-centric, entertainment-obsessed news media outlets have added a heavy dose of political news to their lineups, taking space normally devoted to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ... The gossip-magazine editors appear to hold the cards most of the time. When President Bill Clinton submitted an essay for publication in Us, it did not pass muster with [Us editor Janice] Min. 'It was the magazine equivalent of watching C-Span,' she recalled, a slight shudder in her voice. 'I was a little mortified to do it, but we kicked it back to the president for a revise.'" [Times]
Remember New York's cover story this week about the Horace Mann teacher who was shocked—shocked—to learn that students at that tony prep school exchange bitchy gossip and say terrible things on the Facebook? The alarmed history teacher—who, for his role in publicizing the Facebook fracas was forced to take a sabbatical—is Peter Sheehy, husband of Us Weekly editor Janice Min! So, obviously, this "gossiping about people" thing was totally foreign to him. (J/k! Us is the nice one.) SAD UPDATE: Ok. Former Horace Mann history teacher Peter Sheehy's current gig? "Research intern" for award-winning internet blog Talking Points Memo. No, seriously. [NYM]
Last week, Salon's Rebecca Traister worried that "The Golden Age of Celebrity Gossip" was "grinding to an end" because of "evil geniuses" like Us Weekly editor-in-chief Janice Min. Min did, after all, put The Hills star Lauren Conrad on the cover of her mag. But the Little Girls of America have a message for the Min doubters: "J-Min is right, and you are old, so shut your old face before I shut it for you." I just went to the corner newsstand to buy cigarettes and while I was waiting forever for this one Nigerian dude to buy a stack of phone cards, two Russian girls who looked to be about eight or nine years old showed up.
Primary season is so hot right now. Did you see that Will.i.am video? Celebrities are getting into politics, which means we should too! This year, Us Weekly editor Janice Min started covering politicians more or less like she covers celebrities, because that is now the lens through which America interprets everything. (So-called serious political reporting—it's just like Us!) Is it such a stretch? As she tells the New Yorker, "When I was in junior high, I was the annoying kid in the class who always had the answer to whatever current-events quiz was going on. It's definitely a side of me." Min is such a lucky duck to have a job that lets so many sides of her personality come out. [New Yorker]
"Violet Affleck Has Learned To Sing 'When You Wish Upon A Star'" was an actual headline on Usmagazine.com on November 6th, just 6 days after our sometime Guest Editor Noelle Hancock departed for the greener pastures of Pagesix.com. This was a sign that the site had already started hurting badly; it received two more blows this Tuesday when Us Online west coast blogger Megan Lynn left to join Pagesix.com's burgeoning west coast bureau and Colleen Curtis, who had been overseeing the website, was "mysteriously and abruptly" fired. We don't know much else about the exodus, except that "everyone didn't leave because they hate [EIC] Janice Min because they don't," and that our former Henry the Intern just went to be a Senior Editor there! Also, that one of their headlines this morning was "Angelina Jolie's Stylist Says Those Leather Pants Never Split," so maybe things are looking up, or at least holding steady.
Hi, can we get a contract like Janice Min's? Maybe if we promise to run more side-by-side photos of celebrities wearing the same outfits? Or, like, photos of Julia Allison at the deli? She's just like... you? Us? $2.5 MILLION FOR TWO YEARS. Way to hold out, lady. Hold us. We're shaking.
Min Signs 2-Year Deal To Run US [NYP]
Us Weekly editor-in-chief Janice Min takes to the online pages of Slate today to discuss her decision to have a Paris Hilton-free issue of Us the week that Paris got released from prison (which some sniped was because People had landed the "exclusive" photo shoot and interview with Paris). And true to form, Janice did what she usually does when she's defending her magazine in more august surroundings: She brings up politics and how George Bush is evil and the war in Iraq has become a footnote in the ongoing national soap opera that is Paris Hilton or Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith's life! The woman is a genius.
Hey! Have you heard? Us Weekly is reporting this week that just six short years ago, Angelina Jolie was vaguely Goth, married to Billy Bob Thornton, had a pet rat, and kept a vial of Thornton's blood around her neck. And now, she's all Miss Humanitarian Adoptive Parent 2007! Oh. What's that? You say you've heard this all before? Well. Maybe that's because Us Weekly keeps reminding us! Although we have to admit, that quote about Billy Bob and Angelina having just fucked in the car is pretty classic. (Click to enlarge.)
Once Janice Min gets her manicure into something, she's not going to let it go. Take the cover of the latest issue of Us Weekly, which proclaims: "The Final Insult: Shiloh Was No Accident! Angelina finally admits she planned to get pregnant while Brad was still married." Oh, snap! The story's not actually as scandalous as that: she and Brad had been together for months by the time they planned to get pregnant, although he was technically not divorced from Jennifer Aniston. Now! Was it tacky for Angelina to remind Jennifer Aniston, yet again, that it sucked getting dumped by Brad Pitt? Yes! But it's also pretty tacky of Us to publish the same story, week after week.