Man in Maroon Suit, Orange Skin, Running for President?

Bloggers react to the Mark Warner New York Times Magazine cover photo, to the related Times "correction" and to the hang-ups of the reporter who wrote the accompanying profile.

If you’re a one-term governor pondering a run for president against a well-known senator with a colossal war chest and the New York Times Magazine comes calling to profile you, chances are you’re tickled pink.

And then the profile is published and, as the Times Magazine has a knack for doing (why? why?), in the accompanying cover shot you wind up looking like a sweaty, maroon-suited, close-talker — or worse, to hear the blogosphere tell it.

“I had to throw the magazine out after I read the article because I didn’t want it in my house,” blogged Brainy Babe. “That picture was seriously creeping me out. [Warner] looks like a creepy child molester… or a sleazy used car salesman. Not the way to kick off a presidential bid, unless the plan is to lure voters into the booth by offering candy.”

At Raw Fisher, Marc Fisher shared these thoughts: “So the New York Times Sunday magazine did a big story on our very own Mark Warner and there the ex-guv was, smiling rather too Botoxically on the cover, with way too much tooth showing. But the saving grace was that his skin somehow seemed more orange than his hair, which I guess is a step in the right direction.”

“FOR GOD’S SAKE, DON’T SAY CHEESE!” was Michael Crowley’s reaction at The New Republic’s The Plank.

Not, we’re guessing, the sort of buzz that Warner was hoping his Times Magazine profile would generate. (Ditto Matt Bai who wrote the lengthy piece which has by now been completely overshadowed by the accompanying photo). Today, the Times runs a “correction/editor’s note” copping to the fact that its cover image “rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner…. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon.”

Well, that oughtta clear things up and put an end to all the mockery. Or no.

At Penguins on the Equator, AK has this to say about the Times’ “correction”: “Unfortunately for [Warner], however, it appears that the smile was all his own…” And Gawker, dubbing it the “Correction of the Week: Mark Warner Looks Nothing Like Mark Warner,” adds the following to the Times’ clarification: “Also, Warner’s teeth have not been capped and whitened, his lower lip isn’t doing that weird thing, and he doesn’t actually give off that smarmy politician vibe that made you turn over the magazine on your coffee table so you didn’t have to keep looking at him. It’s all just a misunderstanding.”

There is some discussion in the ‘sphere of the substance of the Times’ cover story — such as the fixations of the reporter who wrote the piece.

Observes The Plank’s Jason Zengerle in a post titled, “That Candidate’s Head is Like Sputnik, Spherical but Quite Pointy at Parts”: “… it wasn’t only the cover that struck me as strange. There was also Matt Bai’s seeming obsession with Warner’s head-size, finding it remarkable enough to mention twice.”

And Raw Fisher’s Fisher noticed another Bai hang-up: “Now, if [Warner] can only get over the transparently overcautious way he answers questions and relates to reporters. Bai is reporter #478 in the series of campaign correspondents who gets all hung up on the way Warner takes questions, which is to say he listens intently, then goes full stop and lets you see the gears cranking away inside his head as he mulls the potential damage a particular answer might cause, and then he formulates the perfect bit of phrasing that fails to satisfy the questioner. This has a corrosive effect on any writer’s—or any person’s—ability to view Warner as authentic…”

And Warner need only ask those who’ve gone before him what happens to candidates who “fail to satisfy” reporters.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.