Time readers cry foul over Ronnie's fake tear

The redesign of Time magazine – the first big change in decades – didn’t provoke too much controversy, but the cover featuring a portrait of President Ronald Reagan with a large fake tear rolling down his cheek did.

The accompanying headline read “How the Right Went Wrong”, with the subhead: “What would Ronnie do?

Why the Republican candidates need to reclaim the Reagan legacy?”

Time was deluged with e-mails, some denouncing the fake tear. The magazine pointed out it had not claimed the picture was genuine – that there was a line crediting the tear to illustrator Tim O’Brien.

In fact it is not the first time he has created a fake tear for Time magazine.

The first time was back 1989 when he added a fake tear to a portrait of George Washington. On that occasion the caption read “Is Government Dead?” and the teary portrait – or a copy of it – ended up in the National Gallery.

The artist, who over the years has done 10 covers for Time, said he was surprised by the controversy.

He insisted there was never any claim that the picture was genuine.

Time editor Rick Stengel conceded the credit line on an inside page was a little small, but said the magazine never claimed the picture was anything but a photoshop reproduction.

One person who seemed particularly upset was Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael. He declared: “Dad would never cry.”

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