Pulling a Rolling Stone, TIME magazine unveiled its new cover Thursday to a chorus of boos. The magazine's cover story spotlights Chris Christie, recently reelected New Jersey governor and Republican darling — oh, and according to TIME's cover, also "The Elephant In The Room." Geddit?
Business Insider calls the headline a "brilliant triple entendre," three-pronged because, like, elephant (GOP symbol), elephant in the room (Christie's much-rumored bid for the 2016 presidency), and elephant once more (oh yeah, Christie is overweight). The fat joke isn't subtle: Christie's face has been darkened on the cover to emphasize his double chin, which (hee hee) makes him look a bit like an elephant. LOL, TIME. Clever.
Quick flashback: on Tuesday evening, Christie was reelected governor of New Jersey by a landslide. The win was expected, but still added fuel to the fire of rumors that Christie is the Republican Party's best shot for the presidency when President Barack Obama steps down in 2016. It's not secret that the divided and unpopular GOP is experiencing something of an image crisis, absolutely not helped by that time its fringe members refused to compromise and shut down the government, and there's hopeful talk that Christie can help them recover from, well, everything.
More than ever before, Christie is in the spotlight, and TIME has decided to direct that spotlight on his weight. (For the record, Christie had surgery to insert a Lap-Band, a less invasive kind of gastric band, earlier this year. Since May, it appears that he's slowly but steadily shedding the pounds.)
It's not clear why TIME decided to reduce their feature story to a fat joke. Let's not forget that TIME has run a cover story on Christie before, and at the time used Christie's build to undercut their point that Chris Christie, rather than an Elephant, is a Boss.
It's no secret that TIME, along with most of the print world, isn't selling that well anymore. The publication won't have missed what happened when Rolling Stone ran a cover story on alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev: the issue sold double the normal amount of copies, in spite of numerous outlets refusing to sell the issue in protest.
And it's a good bet that this will happen with this month's issue of TIME, too. But that can't be the only reason for Fat-Joke-Gate: let's remember that TIME is one of the most well-respected magazines in America. This is a break from form for them, and the editorial team certainly knows what they're doing. We hope, anyway, because for the rest of us, it's really not clear.