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Barack Reacts to 'New Yorker' Cover

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The magazine says its cover is a joke-but not everyone is laughing.

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UPDATE: Barack Obama reacted to The New Yorker controversy last night on Larry King Live, saying it's "just a cartoon, Larry."

The current issue of The New Yorker is stirring up rage and controversy.

The July 21 cover, labeled, "The Politics of Fear," depicts Obama wearing Muslim-style clothing and doing a fist bump with wife Michelle, who is dressed for combat with a rifle slung over her back. A portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs over the fireplace, which has an American flag burning in it.

The magazine's cover artist, Barry Blitt, insists the image is intended to be a spoof to show how rumors and scare tactics are being used to destroy Obama's campaign efforts.

Britt writes in an email to the Huffington Post: "I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is."

An Obama spokesperson Bill Burton says the magazine crossed the line, saying "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-winged critics have tried to create, but most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

Senator Barack Obama reacted to The New Yorker controversy last night on Larry King Live.

Senator John McCain also showed his support by calling the cover "tasteless and offensive."

In its defense, the magazine's editor David Remnick told the New York Daily News that he was surprised by the public reaction. The cover "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them [the images] for the obvious distortions they are," he said.

"Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to the absurd."

Is the cover offensive or just artistic expression misinterpreted?


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18 comments so far | Post a comment now
SugarPlumFairy July 14, 2008, 4:20 PM

Satire is typically borderline offensive anyway, but I think this cover (by putting all the stereotypes together) went a little too far.

Anonymous July 14, 2008, 4:24 PM

It’s artistic expression-it’s just everyone is too closed minded and lame to even laugh at it! I’m sure the hard core democrats would be laughing if it was McCain on the cover and depicted in the same way!

Mary M July 14, 2008, 4:26 PM

If we keep talking down to our fellow country-people, they will never get to the point that they will instantly see this is obvious satire. The same people who think the Obamas’ fist bump was ‘terrorist’ think this cover is offensive.

L Smith July 14, 2008, 4:46 PM

The Republican “swift boat” style attackers couldn’t have done it any better. To get the same impact in an anti-Bush ad, you would have to show him with rich backers handing him money to bail him out of his failed business, a basket full of “empties” under his desk, and sitting in the nude with an “Emperor” crown on his head. Come to think of it, that wouldn’t quite do it - these are all true - none of the implications about Obama are true. Regardless of what the New Yorker’s intent really was, this vivid image will be stuck in the voter’s minds. It was a very bad day for the New Yorker and Obama.

R. Greene July 14, 2008, 6:40 PM

There are two basic problems with this tasteless cover image of Mr. and Mrs. Obama: 1. Timing - this occurred on the eve of Mr. Obama’s speech to the NAACP annual convention; and 2. Editor decision process - this would have never received my okay. With the internet this will only feed the healthy vestiges of racism in the U.S.

stevenbrycesmomm July 14, 2008, 8:57 PM

Wrong just plain wrong. Even my mother, who is not a Obama supporter, was sick at the sight of this cover. This goes above and beyond the poor taste the New Yorker is famous for,

Anonymous July 15, 2008, 1:11 AM

Remember the New Yorker’s target audience, people. Liberals. Snarky liberals. They “get it.” Everyone else doesn’t have to. And what should Obama care? He already has their vote.

Sandi K July 15, 2008, 7:27 AM

This is just sick sad and wrong. How would people feel if McCain was on the cover clad in KKK gear all the while stomping on an American flag and pushing a veteran out of a window? Not quite as pretty a picture is it?

Norma K. July 15, 2008, 7:42 AM

This picture is so wrong. It makes you sick to think that some people think this is funny. Senator Obama and his wife are great people and their children should not to be subject to such nonsince.

Julie July 15, 2008, 9:18 AM

It could be true of all any of you know. Obama has many unanswered issues with voters. Was he really raised in as Muslim. One book of his says he does not care of white America. That he loathes whites. His loyalties are for Mother Africa

deb July 15, 2008, 9:24 AM

…and we have become a tasteless,cruel insensitive people. We want everyone else to understand, respect and take us seriously when we don’t even give ourselves the respect we demand from others. Where are we going America?

Karen July 15, 2008, 12:06 PM

Most people who read the New Yorker will understand this because the average readership is of very educated people. However, with all of the media hype this cover is getting… those who wouldn’t normally read it and those who believe all of the rumors that Senator Obama is a Muslim and other rubbish will only see it as fact and not satire. Seems like an error in judgement, but a very severe one.

Cynika July 15, 2008, 12:23 PM

Why are people so angry? if it isn’t true, who cares - freedom of the press and all that. You have to have thick skin if you want to survive personal (or not) attacks - even satirical ones. Isn’t Barack Hussein Obama Muslim? If he wants to become President then he better prepare himself for the good and bad attention that comes along for the ride. People are up in arms as if politicians have never been ridiculed, joked, and laughed at. I think voters don’t really know who Obama is, maybe this is where the anger rises from - the possibility as slight as it may be of truth in the SATIRICAL portrayal of the Obamas on the New Yorker’s cover.

BJ July 15, 2008, 1:07 PM

When will the media in “Our Country” realize that apologies for obvious and intended racist remarks and displays are not enough.
The New Yorker ran that cover to do just what it is doing. The editor should be a “man” and not apologize for something that he actually feels and intended to happen with the “cover.”

He obviously does not know about the many contributions the “Black” men made during the first 200 years of “Our Country” and continue to contribute in 2008


C. Fox July 16, 2008, 9:53 AM

The cover is wrong, the New Yorker is wrong. No one wants to be depicted as a terrorist. No man wants his wife depicted as a terrorist. The whole symbolism, satirical or not is wrong. It is a sad day for America.

Saeeda B. July 16, 2008, 10:41 AM

I whinced at this cover, and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s satire. This cover doesn’t do anyone any good. While it tries to point out the absurdity of the “Obama’s a Muslim, etc etc” rumors, it almost contributes to the hatred Americans (in general) feels towards Muslims. I’m a Muslim convert, and I think it’s a shame that this country (founded by those who sought out freedom from religious persecution in England) has turned “Islam” and “Muslim” into a slur.

DM July 16, 2008, 10:49 AM

I believe they crossed the line and it will feed the fear some people already have, and make them think that this is what will happen if Obama wins the election. Not everyone is smart enough to realize it may have been intended as a “joke” (and I’m not sure it was). Not everyone votes on the issues or cares about honesty and integrity. Too bad for the rest of us!

tara July 16, 2008, 5:05 PM

I think the problem is that not everyone gets the joke. As an Obama supporter I immediately laughed, because one I know the New Yorker, and two I knew it was lampooning each of the falsehoods that are trying to be purported as facts daily.
To me the cover is making fun of the pundits, not the Obamas.


What I couldn’t believe, was people taking the cover as fact. And there lies the problem with the cover choice. I think it is the editor - not the artist who is to blame. Had this cartoon had context, perhaps in conjunction with a story about the problem of Obama’s image in view of all the tales that get weaved about him, I think the carton wouldn’t have even been a blip on GoogleTrends.


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