The Governor and “The Elephant in the Room”


Newly re-elected NJ governor Chris Christie found himself the subject of a TIME Magazine cover last week that generated some controversy. The cover, shown above, features a photograph of Christie with the headline “The Elephant in the Room.” TIME Magazine has claimed that the photo and the headline were a double entendre meant to draw attention to Christie (who is Republican) who many feel could be a presidential contender in 2016 and the elephant as the symbol of the Republican party. The story investigated the reported instability of the GOP and Christie’s ability to help stabilize it.

Critics instantly seized on the cover as making fun of Christie’s weight (some think he’s obese). Conservative talk show host David Webb said the cover “mocked” Christie’s weight. Even Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” got in on criticizing the magazine, as shown in the clip below.

"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart"

This isn’t the first time we have discussed TIME Magazine on Information Ethics Report; the magazine is known for its provocative covers as we pointed out in this post. But here’s what we need to ask: How do we know if this was intentionally provocative, or merely a clever play on words? If it was intentionally provocative, what about it is unethical?

Sources:, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,”

5 thoughts on “The Governor and “The Elephant in the Room”

  1. Absolutely done on purpose. Why? Because it’s what we are all thinking. And besides that, it’s so easy to cover it up with the explanation they provided (i.e., “Republicans. Elephants. Elephants. Republicans. Get it???”) So easy to take no accountability but to secretly know inside “We pulled it off.”

    “Nice” work, Time.

  2. I agree with you completely, Emily, particularly given their history of publishing titillating covers.

  3. In spite of being fully aware of how heavy Chris Christie is, I initially took the headline to mean ‘the embarrassment nobody wants to acknowledge’ before connecting it to the Republican’s symbol. The weight joke was briefly considered, but I decided it was too easy, even for TIME, so I went looking for something deeper… maybe I gave them more credit than they deserve? 😉

  4. In the end, I think you may be right, Brock. I go back and forth on this one–from lashing out at TIME to giving them the benefit of a doubt.

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