People Editor Defends Sunny Trump Coverage: 'We Continue to Stand Steadfastly by Natasha'

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People Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle is defending People magazine's coverage of Donald Trump since the election on Tuesday, telling employees in a memo that the seemingly enthusiastic tweets and glowing cover image do not discount Mr. Trump's alleged assault against a People writer.

Last month People published the account of the writer, Natasha Stoynoff, who said Mr. Trump had pushed her against a a wall and forced his tongue down her throat when he got her alone during an interview about his marriage.

The morning after Mr. Trump's election, People's Twitter feed included posts playing on his old "Apprentice" catchphrase and accentuating his "way too cute" family:

That incensed some of the celebrities that People magazine covers, among other Trump critics.

On Thursday, Mr. Cagle addressed the controversy with employees in a memo, saying that the magazine continues to stand by Ms. Stoynoff:

Dear Colleagues,

This week the PEOPLE cover story is about president-elect Donald Trump, and as you may have seen, we are getting some heat for it. We've been called out for trying to pander or "normalize" Trump, just weeks after we published a story, by former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff, about being physically attacked by Trump in 2005.

I assure you that the cover on the president-elect is in no way a celebration or endorsement of this deeply polarizing figure. And we continue to stand steadfastly by Natasha. Her attack is of course recounted in the cover story. Last Friday, we posted a video in which she again discusses the attack and responds to the nasty things Trump has said about her recently. We will never forget what happened to Natasha, and frankly we don't want our audience to forget, either.

Some readers are sickened to see Trump on the cover. Others are thrilled by it. In any case, it seemed wrong to put anyone other than the president-elect on the cover this week. He was elected president. We can't pretend it didn't happen. Some of you have been criticized on social media for my decision. This is unfortunate and unfair to you. Some of you may personally disagree with the decision. I'm here if anyone wants to talk.

Let me assure you that no matter who is in the White House, PEOPLE celebrates tolerance and inclusion. We strive to entertain, empower and inspire our audience. We will continue to do all the things that make us proud. Our campaign against gun violence, for example, will continue with renewed fervor.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for the great work you're doing.


Jess Cagle
Editor-in-Chief, PEOPLE
Editorial Director, Time Inc Celebrity Entertainment & Style Group

Other publications have responded to the election results differently. The Daily Beast, for example, declared itself part of the "loyal opposition" to Mr. Trump's coming administration. The Huffington Post, meanwhile, has stopped appending a note to all Trump coverage calling him "a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther."

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