— Vanity Fair México (@VanityFairMX) January 26, 2017
Melania Trump just (sort of) landed her first magazine cover as First Lady. In a bizarre turn of events, Vanity Fair Mexico’s February edition spotlights the Slovenian ex-model. Only the glossy didn’t actually shoot the image or speak with Melania. While the tagline proclaiming her to be “the new Jackie Kennedy” might imply the interview was conducted post-Inauguration (or, rather, post powder blue Ralph Lauren getup), readers of Vanity Fair’s sister mag GQ will recognize the cover shot. The Douglas Friedman-lensed photo originally appeared in the men’s magazine’s April 2016 edition. Vanity Fair Mexico also, ahem, borrowed the accompanying interview.
And yet, the cover’s lack of originality is actually its least puzzling aspect, given recent events. For one, this Wednesday — just 24 hours before the cover’s release — President Donald Trump signed two sweeping executive orders on immigration, promising to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and increase the number of border patrol officers. In the wake of this news, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled his upcoming meeting with Trump. (In the past, Trump has claimed he plans to “make Mexico pay for it” — “it” being an estimated $20 billion endeavor. Peña’s response? “Of course” Mexico will not fund the wall.) Given that the wall was one of Trump’s main campaign promises, not to mention his unkind words toward Mexican immigrants, it’s hard to imagine Vanity Fair Mexico would expect a Trump-touting issue to fly off newsstands. Unless it was operating under the assumption that controversy sells.
If this was the assumption, Vanity Fair Mexico fell victim to that old adage about “u” and “me.” Many readers were understandably taken aback by the photo in which Melania flaunts her wealth by “eating” a plate of jewels. Readers immediately took to Donald Trump’s favorite social media outlet to voice their displeasure. “Apologize to Mexico for this stupidity,” read one of the more polite tweets. In response to the backlash, Vanity Fair Mexico published a statement acknowledging the inopportune timing of the article and claiming its intention was, as always, to offer its take on current affairs.
Adding to the perplexing choice of cover subject is the fact that longtime Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has had an ongoing feud with President Trump. (It was Carter who first drew public attention to the president’s “tiny” hands.) Back in December, Trump famously attacked Vanity Fair via Twitter.
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
An unruffled Carter’s most recent editor’s letter, published just days before the Mexican cover’s release, is titled: “Donald Trump: A Pillar of Ignorance and Certitude.” In it, Carter examines “what’s to come under a leader whose mind careers from one random thought to the next.” And so, one would expect Vanity Fair’s various editions to form a united front against the Trumps, rather than simultaneously condemn the President and effectively endorse the First Lady.
That said, Melania’s Vanity Fair Mexico cover could, theoretically, be an elaborate form of trolling. Following the release of her GQ interview, Melania took to Facebook to discredit the profile. “The article published in GQ today is yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting. Julia Ioffe, a journalist who is looking to make a name for herself, clearly had an agenda when going after my family,” wrote the First Lady, adding that there were “numerous inaccuracies” in the story (though she did not break down or correct said falsehoods). In choosing to recycle a story Melania finds offensive, was Vanity Fair Mexico throwing shade at the Trumps? Was the Mexican public too quick to judge the magazine by its cover? Regardless, it was a very strange cover choice.
[ via ABC News ]