GQ might have its finger on the pulse of fashion, but when it comes to politics, it seems, its fingers are plugged firmly into its ears.
The November issue of the magazine – which was written before the election – made the bold decision to assume that Hillary Clinton would take the presidency.
Donald Trump’s surprise win, then, has rendered articles in the magazine bizarrely redundant – and earned the dressing-up experts a dressing-down from The LA Times.
Losing it: GQ’s editor’s letter (web headline pictured above) for its November issue predicted that Trump ‘will lose this election badly’. The embarrassing cock-up is still online
Poor cover-age: The cover to the issue promised ‘Trump’s secret plans’ – which GQ said was to open a 24-hour news channel on losing the presidency
The GQ issue in question is fronted by NBA star Russell Westbrook and featuring the cover line ‘Trump’s secret plans’.
Inside, a letter to the readers titled ‘Hack Trump’ – later titled ‘Let’s Face it, Donald Trump is About to Lose’ for the website – has editor-in-chief Jim Nelson promising ‘Donald Trump will go’.
‘The good news: He will lose this election badly, by which I mean poorly,’ Nelson foresaw. ‘Exceedingly poorly.’
Unfortunately for Nelson, the only exceedingly poor loss was his grasp of the country’s politics, as Trump took the White House in a win that surprised many media pundits.
The bad news, Nelson said, was that Trump would ‘take his wounded pride and his seething, tiny-fingered resentment to war against this country’ by parlaying his ‘rigged vote’ concerns into a 24-hour news channel or a 2020 presidential run.
The letter – unedited and without – is still online.
That issue’s cover promise of ‘Trump’s secret plans’ turned out to be a feature that continued Nelson’s speculation about a possible Trump TV station.
It suggested that Trump would team up with ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and his now-strategy chief, Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon, to form a 24-hour news channel.
Nelson declined the LA Times’s request for a comment, saying his team were wrapping up their next issue.
Few other magazines – even Vogue, which is run by Clinton fundraiser Anna Wintour – went as far as GQ.
Lost: New York magazine pulled a similar stunt with its October 31 issue. Inside it asked what his transition team would do in the event of him losing the presidency
But the October 31 edition of New York magazine did print a cover with Trump’s face and the word ‘LOSER’ splashed across it in red text.
The cover story focused on Trump’s team and their career plans after what seemed at that point – in the wake of a series of sex-assault allegations – like a surefire loss for Trump.
‘We, and [cover artist Barbara] Kruger, had always intended for our cover to convey multiple meanings,’ the magazine said.
One meaning was ‘certainly that Trump was running behind,’ it continued, ‘but also that America itself was losing, dragged down into a filthy dumb-show campaign.’
It’s a spirited defense – but slightly undone by Trump’s success in the Electoral College, and his ongoing transition into the white House.
Winner: Trump’s victory shocked many in the media – but few had the chutzpah to make their predictions of his failure cover news