Fact check: Newsweek’s “Madam President” cover is not evidence of a wrong media election call

A Newsweek magazine cover that appears to declare Hillary Clinton as the winner of the 2016 presidential election has been touted to be an example of an election being incorrectly called by the media.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

While the cover is real, it was designed ahead of the election in case Clinton won, but was not an edition of the magazine calling the race.

The special commemorative edition of the magazine features a full-page photograph of Clinton and the headline “Madam President”.

Since the media called the 2020 U.S. election for Joe Biden, some social media users have claimed the Clinton cover is evidence that presidential races have been incorrectly called in the past (here) (here).

But this was not Newsweek declaring Clinton the winner.

To ensure the weekly magazine was prepared for either a Trump or Clinton victory, editions were designed for both candidates ahead of the November 2016 election.

“Newsweek did not call the 2016 election and does not call elections generally”, Global Editor in Chief of Newsweek, Nancy Cooper, told Reuters via email.

“As you know, newsmagazines prepare print editions for different outcomes, and this version was one of the options.”

Cooper said that some copies of the Clinton edition were distributed as “a result of an error”.

At the time, Newsweek explained that the special commemorative editions were created by Topix media (here) .

According to the New York Post, because Clinton was the favourite to win, Topix made a business decision to distribute the Clinton edition to shops prior to the election (here) .

While retailers were told not to sell any copies before the election, a handful did, the Post reported.

Once the election was called for Trump, however, retailers were asked to return the Clinton edition, and the Trump edition was distributed instead.


Missing context: The “Madam President” edition was designed just in case Clinton won. A Trump edition was also created to prepare the magazine for both possible outcomes.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .