Newsweek's Poisoned Apple? – UPDATED

Ever since Newsweek’s Evan Thomas admitted “of course we want John Kerry to win,” and that the press would be able to give Kerry a “10-15%” boost,” in poll numbers, I’ve had no time for the magazine; I miss nothing, as it has lately become a very, very thin weekly homage to Barack Obama.

But this is interesting. Was this done on purpose? Who at Newsweek thought that inserting an image of -who is that, Karl Marx? Charles Darwin?- into the apple was a good idea? Was it meant to embarrass the White House or to support it? I can’t imagine this happened by accident, but perhaps it did.


At first I was sure the image was a photoshop done by some “nefarious right-winger,” but then I saw that if you go to the cover story article at Newsweek, they are featuring what looks to be an altogether more flattering shot with a cropped-and-apple-free pose.

Actually, seeing the second pose, with cropped apple, makes me believe that the weird image inside the apple really was a freakish accident of lighting. Were it not, they’d have left the apple in the shot, right? But the image must have shown up in all the photos. Could someone at Newsweek have tampered with all of the photos? That seems unlikely.

Not helpful to the Obama’s, though, to have this happen, right behind the NY Times “enhancing with illustration” a picture of the President.

Or, you know, Newsweek could just be looking to generate a buzz, and get some attention for itself. Given this “open and transparent” administration, we’ll likely never know.

What are your thoughts?

UPDATE: Here is a (blurry) closeup of the apple:

Okay, I am convinced that it’s simply a matter of the apples’ shading and the lighting. But you can see why some people are amused. See: Rasputin, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Burl Ives, Z.Z. Topp.

UPDATE II: Vanderleun has more and Ann Althouse has a bit of fun with this and says I have sounded a retreat, rather than be thought foolish.

But I’m a Catholic; I have learned to be skeptical of images in food. :-)

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jacob Klinger

    Whoa now, that is trippy looking!

  • JACK

    From a distance, kinda looks like Rasputin!

  • mrp

    Hmmm… James Longstreet?

  • Greg Marquez

    If it was a lighting artifact don’t you think the photo editors would have caught it? Perhaps it was supposed to represent food as a satanic temptation or something… the apple as forbidden fruit, instead of the apple as healthy snack.

  • Jennifer

    No, it’s not lighting and shading. I definitely see a bearded face! Very interesting…

  • Myssi

    Are you sure it isn’t Galileo? just wondering…my first thought was is that Sir Isaac Newton, but I’ve never seen a picture of him with a beard and there are some portraits of Galileo in a very similar pose.
    Are they trying to convince me that apples will make my kids smart? I hate to break it to Mrs. Obama, but my kids are already smart and healthy and I’m not going have fights over eating their veggies; I’ve got enough to do already. Just stay out of my kitchen, please.

  • vanderleun

    What you are most likely seeing is the highlights in the apple produced by the lighting complex that the portrait photographer chose to use. Large umbrella fill on top. Two highlight sources just below. Perhaps the shape of the photographer taking the shot just below that.

  • newguy40

    It’s one of the Smith Bros!

    You know? From the cough drops!

  • Gail F

    All cover shots are airbrushed (or Photoshopped) to cover up flaws and make a more pleasing image. If there’s a face in that apple — and I see one, quite prominent in the composition of the photo — there is meant to be one. Hours and hours go into magazine cover design and refinement. This image is not a “surprise.” It’s possible that the face was just a serendipitous shadow, but if so the folks at Newsweek saw it and kept it that way. If they wanted a prettier apple, they would have corrected it, and there’s no way that their staff missed what everyone else is seeing.

  • Jeanne

    It does look like one of the Smith brothers (from the cough drop box). And a lot like Rasputin. I find it super creepy. Or maybe that’s just the entire vibe I’m picking up from Washington these days!

  • Gail F

    My husband is a former magazine art director. He enlarged the image of the apple in Photoshop and says that it’s a reflection of the photographer’s equipment — that M.O. is sitting at a table and there are two pieces of foamcore in a “V” in front of her to reflect light on her face. The line in the middle is a shadow at the center of the V, and the light above the horizontal line is the photographer’s light.

    But he agrees that the apple should have been Photoshopped to get rid of the reflection, and that the art director could not have missed the image (he says it’s a common reflection pattern) and must have left it that way on purpose.

  • SuzyQ

    Looks like a turban and long beard – like Osama bin Laden.

  • LBascom

    Nah, it’s Marx.

    I mean, his ideas fought obesity real good in the Ukraine, am I right?

  • Sibyl

    You are all wrong, it’s Mohammed.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    A trick of the light, nothing more. Same as the nekkid woman reflected in Dick Cheney’s sunglasses a few years ago, which was really a rod and reel fishing pole.

    [never saw that before -admin]

  • BigGeorgeTX

    I’ll take a wild guess and say Johnny Appleseed. Probably done purposely to create a buzz on the Web. Mission accomplished.

  • SallyJune

    Am I the only one seeing “Karl Marx with horns”? And you are right — that is NOT the most flattering picture of her!

  • MPH

    My hobby is art; painting with oils and pastels in a realistic style. I have painted apples under artificial light. I have copied famous paintings of apples. In other words, I have stared at, analyzed, and diagrammed highlights and shadows on apples for hours at a time. Who would have thought this experience would come in handy some day? As an former student of apple highlights and shadows , I can say with confidence that the chances of this image being a trick of light and shadow are small. Which brings up the question; why would anyone do this?

  • MPH

    AH! I missed the comment from Gail. I can see how a photographer’s reflection would make that image. But the apple looks unnatural- they should have fixed that as she points out in her comment.

  • dry valleys
  • Piano Girl88

    Oh, I think the “Peoples Cube” got hold of that picture before the magazine went off to print to do a little subtle advertising for their website! :~)

  • someguy

    Newsweek would never reveal openly that which they are trying to accomplish secretly.

  • J.R.

    I see Charlton Heston as Moses.

  • JTHC75

    If this were inadvertent, the Newsweek photo editors should be fired for not picking up on it and photoshopping it out. It’s the cover photo! The must have spent hours poring over the various photos to find the right cover–it’s inconceivable that they could have missed this.

  • DoctorMike

    Could it be…..


  • backhoe

    Naw, it the Ayatolla ( of Rock & Rolla? Obscure Road Warrior ref ) or ZZ Top…

  • G.Willikers

    I think it’s Rasputin, but it could be Vlad the Impaler.

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  • zmama

    The WH should auction the apple on ebay to raise funds for their healthcare debacle. They can include that Christmas ornament with the image of Mao.

  • Old Biddy

    Has anyone said “Indian Guru” yet? No? I’ll go for that.

  • Manny L.

    Definitely Karl Marx. Obama simpatico. :D

    I must say, Michelle looks lovely in those photos.

  • Old Buckeye

    I think the apple was positioned there so we wouldn’t look at the chunky blue midsection behind it.

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  • Greta

    I think the image was placed there to take away the questions about why a first lady who obviously has some weight issues is touting America to lose weight. I was amazed at pictures of her, especially from behind in shorts, show that she has some issues that she might have overcome before she went on the eating right America binge.
    This would have been the same as Laura Bush talking about reading and her being unable to read herself or Nancy Reagan on drugs shouting out just say no.

  • Greta

    My thoughts on the apple go back to Eve. Maybe she is feed Marxism to Barry with loaded socialist apples. Maybe we need an exorcist at the White House. Who is the snake, Axelrod or Rahm? Will God show up and kick them out of the garden of eden for ignoring the constitution they took an oath to defend. God could be having an issue with how they are trashing it as he might actually expect someone who swears on a Bible to do what they promise.

  • B. Durbin

    It’s the photographer’s reflection. But yeah, they’re silly for not fixing it. Maybe they’re worried about “fake image” accusations?

  • Stephen Roney

    It’s not Marx–it’s Engels!

  • Andy

    I think this is a photoshop. I’m sitting here with a copy of the magazine in front of me. The light reflection which makes up the “forehead” is present, but the shadows which make the “eyes” and “nose” aren’t there, and neither are the light reflections which make up the “cheekbones.” Also, the shade of the apple skin has been lightened in spots to make the outline of the “head” and the “beard” more prominent.

  • Lori

    William Tell, people!

  • CV

    Clearly, it’s Robert Redford in his Jeremiah Johnson days.

  • SKAY

    “Am I the only one seeing “Karl Marx with horns”? ”

    I see the same thing SallyJune.

    They should save it and hang it on the “Our Favorite People” holiday “go green” tree next to the Mao ornament during the “Winter Holiday” break next year.

  • jtd7

    Alright, this has been good clean fun and I’ve enjoyed some witty comments. But our home still subscribes to Newsweek. I have the hard-copy in front of me right now, and I do not see the face in that apple. Compared with the image in your blog, the hard-copy apple has the single reflection of a light source, but not the two smaller reflections below it that suggest cheekbones. I’m afraid you’ve been taken in by an altered digital image.

    [Good thing I never took it seriously! -admin]

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  • Katherine

    Since the article is “Feed Your Children Well,” my guess is it’s David Crosby.

  • Jeffrey Quick

    Actually, it bears a passing resemblance to the image on the Shroud of Turin.

  • Will

    Nothing there. Pick up a newsstand copy and you’ll see you are all making something out of nothing.