The NYT Tackles US Weekly's "Scandalous" Cover Story on Sarah Palin

In an uncommon acknowledgement of the media bias issue, reporter Stephanie Clifford tackled allegations of pro-Michelle Obama, anti-Sarah Palin bias in the celebrity magazine US Weekly in a Monday Business section story, "Readers See Bias in US Weekly's Take on Sarah Palin."

One of the tricks of the magazine trade is attracting attention at the supermarket checkout. For Us Weekly magazine, which featured a cover story about Sarah Palin titled "Babies, Lies & Scandal," it was mission accomplished.

The celebrity magazine, which usually focuses more on Britney and baby bumps than elections, drew criticism from readers for the cover. A record number of commenters on the Us magazine Web site - more than 6,600, at last count - weighed in, most focusing on the magazine's perceived bias.

Many contrasted the cover of Ms. Palin with a June cover, "Why Barack Loves Her," featuring Barack and Michelle Obama. "Barack and Michelle in an embrace and a fluff article on their marriage....only to be followed by a picture of our possible future VP with her newborn baby and an insulting and untrue title to the magazine cover?" one reader posted.

Clifford demonstrated that though the story may have gotten page hits, it apparently didn't deliver a subscription boost to the magazine:

And though many of the message-board readers had threatened to cancel their subscriptions, an Us Weekly representative said that it had received about 1,000 cancellations and 1,000 new subscriptions last week - both figures higher than average, according to the representative, but a draw, in political terms.