Is Time Completely Rewriting Its Interviews?

Time magazine offered its Ten Questions interview to “fashion’s new phenom Prabal Gurung” in the September 17 edition, and asked him to load up the “wows” for how Michelle Obama honored him and his native country by wearing his dresses. Par for the course for Time, yes?

Here’s where it gets odd. The video of Time writer Feifei Sun’s interview with Gurung is substantially different than the interview that appeared in the magazine. Did Time “clean it up” by rewriting it to fit (or to add flair), despite the impression readers would get that they are reading an actual transcript? Here’s the please-boost-Michelle question in the magazine:

TIME: Michelle Obama has worn several of your dresses as First Lady. You once said you saw this as a success not just for yourself, but also for your native Nepal. How come?

GURUNG: Nepal is a third-world country caught between India and China. Often when people talk about that region, Nepal gets neglected. [By wearing my dresses] she told millions of people back home that all you need is a dream and dedication for things to happen.

Now this is the actual transcript of the video [at about 1:45]:

TIME: You said that dressing Michelle Obama, the first time she wore a dress of yours, I think it was February 2010, was really about success for Nepal. Can you tell me what you meant by that?

GURUNG: Nepal’s a third-world country, and having seen poverty at such proximity and then coming to New York and doing this and living my dream, that whole dream was validated by that action and gesture from the First Lady.

Are these two different interviews? In the video (not in the magazine), Gurung also places Mrs. Obama and Hillary Clinton on a list he’s making of “thinking men’s sex symbols.” Time’s interviewer Feifei Sun followed up by wondering how these “intelligent, aware women” talk fashion.

What first caught my eye was the dismissal of Paul Ryan, where Gurung refused to answer how to make over Ryan and his alleged “ill-fitting” shirts:

TIME: Paul Ryan has caught flak for his ill-fitting shirts. How would you make him over?

GURUNG: It’s a fun question, but I’m conflicting about answering it. I wish people would pay more attention to who he is and what policies he supports.

On Twitter, I sent a message to Sun and to Time's Belinda Luscombe (who usually handles the Ten Questions) for clarification on this issue.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis