Newsweek received withering and widespread criticism over its "Hit the Road, Barack" cover story by Niall Ferguson. The magazine had become "an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers," critics said, "stumbling down the road toward Irrelevance Blvd." The "Hit the Road" piece itself was "a fantasy world of incorrect and tendentious facts" and "completely incoherent" as well as "absurd propaganda, not journalism."
But it turns out the cover may have also been a newsstand hit.
The Aug. 27 issue urging a Romney victory "may have just knocked one out of the park on newsstand sales," according to the Magazine Information Network, or MagNet, which tracks magazine sales.
The early read on sales suggests the issue could double Newsweek's newsstand average, MagNet said. It's also on track to land among the title's top three newsstand sellers since 2010, according to MagNet data.
A spokesman for Newsweek and The Daily Beast wasn't immediately able to confirm MagNet's newsstand numbers but said the issue sold well. "All reports indicate the August 27th issue was a strong performer both in print at the newsstand and on tablet," the spokesman said.
IPad edition downloads on the issue's first day were 4.3 times higher than usual, the spokesman said.
Editor Tina Brown, who previously defended the cover story as part of an exchange of ideas, said readers appreciated the conversation. "The Newsweek cover is a place for robust debate and that 's clearly what excites readers too," Ms. Brown said Thursday in a statement provided by the spokesman.