Did The New Yorker Go Too Far With Obama Cover?

Barack Obama‘s not feeling The New Yorker at the moment.

The long-running magazine came under fire from the Democrat’s campaign this weekend after printing this satirical cover, which the Senator’s staffers described as “tasteless” and “offensive.” Obama himself told journalists that he has no comment on the cover. Rival John McCain’s camp also offered similar finger-wagging.

The entire debate, of course, raises questions on how far is too far when dealing with political satire. Editor David Remnick insists the magazine’s well within its boundaries, of course:

[Remnick] believes the image “holds up a mirror” to the absurd and often malicious rumours that have stuck to his [Obama’s] campaign. And he believes his readers are intelligent enough to get the joke.

Rather depressingly, it has been suggested that people won’t understand the point of cartoon, titled “The Politics of Fear”, and that the cover should have included a caption.

For anyone who needs a caption to get the joke, Remnick’s most extensive explanation of the cover can be found in this question and answer session.

He says it “combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the oval office.”

By ridiculing these ideas about Obama, is the New Yorker helping to peel away layers of conspiratorial mud? Or, in the subconscious minds of the masses, will the image simply reinforce lingering fears about the Democratic candidate?

We’re inclined to think people – New Yorkers, at least – would get the joke, but apparently we have too much faith in our nation’s collective sense of humor. But, of course, is Obama’s not laughing, then we probably shouldn’t, either.

Here’s a link to Ryan Lizza’s cover story on Obama’s work in Chicago…

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  • Darth Paul

    That’s about what I expected from our “liberal” media- unoriginal, racist bullsh!t.

  • IDNY

    I think its hilarious! and smart.

    The cover has NOTHING to do with the Obama’s necessarily but everything to do with the fear and narrow mindedness of middle America

    Its usually not the art or artist but rather the viewers and their feeble and inexperienced minds I take issue with.

  • hells kitchen guy

    It’s funny. They also made Bush & Cheney Brokeback lovers. Presidential politics have ALWAYS been brutal. Obama and his followers better get used to it. And quit screaming “racism” every time he gets skewered!

  • crazylove

    Whatever about the cover. My problem with the New Yorker is that its pretentious.

  • Tom

    The obvious distinction between this cover and Bush & Cheney is that no one would believe Bush & Cheney were gay lovers; whereas, a significant segment of the population hold the view that the Obamas are radical black militants who will payback “whitey” once elected. Such a perception is absurd but it does exists. Unfortunately, this cover will play into that subconscious fear.


    Did The New Yorker Go Too Far With Obama Cover?

    Nope. An accurate portrayal.

    @ No. 5: Right on it, just E-mailed them to my friends. I think whoever came up with that idea needs a raise.

  • rae

    tom, my guess is those people who have those fears aren’t going to actually be picking up a copy the new yorker anytime soon. i think that’s the point; the readers of this magazine are clever enough to figure out that this is satire.

  • Rikard

    It’s chilling to know the percent of americans who think Obama is muslim. I think the New Yorker’s aim is accurate. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall as the staff developed this idea. It has an immediate overwhelming repugnant humor, but lots of needling little barbs too, making it more and more uncomfortable the longer you sit with it. It’s not just the magazines readers that are seeing this. Lots of the misinformed are finding out over breakfast this morning what buffoons they are.

  • RyanInSacto

    The irony of the situation is that, if it hadn’t sparked such a media frenzy, then only the people who read the New Yorker – people who would get the satire – would have seen the cover. The fact that the audience for the cover has now gone beyond the New Yorker demographic is what makes the picture controversial. In the end though, it’s difficult for me to imagine that the intellectuals that run the New Yorker couldn’t have foreseen this. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have gone with it, but they certainly shouldn’t act surprised about controversy.

  • hells kitchen guy

    ^^^ It’s a good point. They definitely did it to promote controversy. And it worked! I have to offer them the back of my hand for that, anyway.


    Isn’t that they way in which they signal each other. Isn’t that a fair caricature of the Muslim attire Obama wore while he was in Africa?
    Haven’t both of them attended meetings and befriended black militants and homophobes like Farrakhan/Meeks and Michelle appeared in photos with other “Fruits of Islam”?
    Doesn’t the burning flag symbolises Obama’s and Mrs “for the first time I’ve been proud of my country” real view of America?
    For once the media is doing something right.

  • Alacer

    This shouldn’t be seen as a satire on Obama ’cause it’s not. It’s a satire on the perception of the general American people and the mind games that have gone on since the start of the primaries. This is not, as Churchill-y would have, an accurate portrayal of Barrack and his wife.

  • mark

    New Yorker you didn’t just step over the line of what is in good taste, or inbounds as social/political critique with the Barack and Michelle cover, you BUNGEE JUMPED. you will certainly deserve ALL the lost subscriptions this hate (disquised as cartoon) generates.

  • M Shane

    It is obvious ly pretentious of the New Yorker to
    present a portrayal like this given the fact that they are not a liberal magazine anmd are read by a lot of not so bright rightwingers who feel that this is one of the only intelligent magazine which is not liberal. In the context of their being progressive it might be humerous. They are not, and it is not.
    Look at the inappropriate cackling of some of the readers here.
    They almost had my subscription. This is disgusting.

    Thanks for the list of e-mails.

  • rory

    For once the media is doing something white..er…right.

  • Samson

    Why is it okay for white politicians to associate with and be endorsed by homophobic extremists but somehow wrong for Barack to have even been in the same room with any militant blacks?
    And the fist thing (dap) is like a high five, people. It’s not a signal for anything and it’s not something only “they” (the Obama? All us negroes?) do.

    Accurate? About as accurate as John McCain during an interview. Go Green Bay Steelers!

  • Eminent Victorian

    This cover is about how many dim-witted Americans may see the Obamas, not how The New Yorker sees the Obamas, sheesh. Folks who brand The New Yorker pretentious or elitist are usually people who didn’t do the necessary work in university. Come on, people.

  • Alacer

    Thank you Eminent Victorian! I’m glad at least ONE other person agrees.

  • garynyc

    To # 20 and 21
    Typical of liberals, when you dont agree with them you are of course “dim witted” I am a New Yorker and love the cover, as they say “the truth sometimes hurt”

  • mark

    It should disprove Obama being tagged ELITIST, cuz when push comes to shove the most elitist magazine treats he and Michelle, as just 2 more n*ggers.


    Thank you Garynyc! Not only “dim witted” but they start to play pseudo-psychology with you and arrive at all sorts of BS conclusions.
    How dare we speak the truth about him?
    It’s sacrilege as far as they are concerned.

  • mark

    I look forward to the McCain cover, deserting his G*D DAMN disabled and disfigured first wife and kids, to have a midlife crisis with a beer heiress.
    Come on New Yorker…man up!

  • emb

    Trouble with that cover, Mark, is that those mccain things are, actually true, as opposed to the Obama cover which is not– local wingnut postings to the contrary notwithstanding. Also true is that mccain pretty much defined the bottom of his West Point class, managed to personally pilot more than one aircraft into the ground, and is a master flip-flopper extraordinaire, even recharacterizing the mccain-Kennedy immigration bill as “that Kennedy bill.” A cover featuring a list of mccain truths might be a nice counterpoint to this one.

    The cover would be funny if there wasn’t so much of a tendency for the feeble-minded to take its satire as truth.

  • Samson

    The problem with saying that the cover is true is that the New Yorker is even saying it’s a satire. As they say “the truth sometimes hurts.”

  • Jaroslaw

    Call me dimwitted if you like, but I think this is in poor taste.

  • garynyc

    Samson: what did you expect the New Yorker to say at this point? They stepped into a big pile of poo Am I to except what the New Yorker tells me is or is not satire? Think not.

  • Mr C

    OKAY, Once again we’re encountered with the rabidness that is Churchill-Y.

    As horrible as the cover looks. The New Yorker did this strictly for business and folks will buy into it as wit all promotional tactics. The story will give a different enlightment of what they are trying to say. And it’s nothing like the cover.

    Hey Churchychicken you said: Michelle appeared in photos with other “Fruits of Islam”? Can your ignorant ass produce this information. Please produce it? We all know how you feel about Blacks. And you’re the last fag to scream anyone as being “Militant”.

    Then again another bogus attempt from a Gay rabid bias queen.

    But CHURCHKNOT-Y I have a suggestion for you. Why don’t you try WHITE COLLAR. Because BLUE collar seems not to be doing you any justice.

  • Alacer

    Mr C, did you read the article? I’m curious on someone’s take on the actual thing and not the dumb cover.

  • garynyc

    Mark & emb
    McCain adopted first wifes children and they along with first wife often on campaign with him as are his other children except for the two boys serving in Iraq as we speak, McCain and the beautiful, smart Mrs. McCain (Cindy) adopted a disabled child (black) from Mothers Mission and pay for his medical and private needs.

    Please reply with Obamas/Micheal activities other than runnin for office after office and supporting that Wright American hating thug and other far left kooks. Keep the list brief , oh, almost forgot not much there so brief it has to be.

  • mark


    Beloved 2nd wife Nancy Reagan was even p*ssed at John McCain for dumping his disfigured wife, and kids. Nancy Reagan not exactly Mom and Wife of the year, when her own daughter rips her publicly as Mommy Dearest in her book, while they were still in office.You might also recall South Carolina 2000 when Roves smear of a “illegal Black baby McCain fathered was spread along Falwell’s phone trees, then in 2006 McCain plants his lips squarely on Falwell’s ass, and kisses and hugs Bush….can you say “spineless castrated DAD?”

  • mark

    garynyc…get your facts straight, the Black child is FEMALE as in daughter….yeah I’m “ascared’ of your monumental grasp of a McCain biography. You have the mental agility of the dope ripped to pieces by not being able to explain McCain economics on LIVE TV.

  • RPCV

    Love the cover. Best thing from New Yorker in eons. Very accurately reflects my feelings and those of many others… Don’t need to read the content; the cover says it all!!

  • CitizenGeek

    I like the cover, it’s an effective satire. But it’s still very irresponsible of them, I reckon. Sure, the readership og the New Yorker is sophisticated enough to understand the satire, but MOST Americans most certainly are not. Just look at RPCV’s ignorance; and this stuff only justifies his profoundly idiotic ignorance IMO. Bad move, NYer.

  • RPCV

    CitizenGeek: Why condemn the New Yorker for portraying the truth??

  • rory

    Oh I know! I know!

    The answer is because it’s not true!

    What’s my prize?

  • Samson

    garynyc: Do you have any proof to back up your claims?

    On the one hand we have a direct quote from an editor that says it’s satire.

    You have…a sharp pain in your chest on account of the truth having hurt you?


    It’s amazing all the fanatical rabid distortions with which the Obamatons attack those who have found in this cover for once a truthful depiction of the Obama’s. Indeed all of those who participate in such attacks would love nothing more than to censor any information that goes astray from the false image that they want people to have about Obama. Though not a fanatic supporter of McCain I welcome any caricature of him or of Senator Clinton or any public figure because as of yet we still have the concept of free speech and sharing of ideas prevalent in this country. You Obamatons can work on dismantling that principle if RPCV’s nightmare scenario comes into fruition. In the end no amount of “satire” or caricature depiction of any other candidate including McCain would be more revealing of a hidden truth(or at least one they have been trying to hide) that could be more detrimental to the US and the Constitution for which it stands. That flag thrown on the the fire symbolises amongst many other things all the flip-flopping and disregard for American principles he’s been showing presently.

    CHANGE #1: Barack Obama says he’s against The California Ballot Measure Banning Gay Marriage Despite His Assertion That Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman.

    Despite his so called ‘support’ for GLBT rights he’s on record for also saying that a second class citizen status such as a civil partnership a la Vermont is his preferred resolution for the issue and goes beyond and says that the issue should be left up to individual States to decide upon. We shouldn’t be entitled to the same rights and protections his family has but he’s Okay with the California Supreme Court desicion. Until it gets voted down in November by the public then another flip-flop on the making.

    CHANGE #2: Despite Pledging To Withdraw American Troops From Iraq Immediately, Barack Obama Now Says He Would “Refine” His Policy After Listening To The Commanders On The Ground

    CHANGE #3: Despite Pledging To Accept Public Financing, Barack Obama Has Reversed His Position And Opted Out Of The System

    CHANGE #4: Barack Obama Is Backtracking On His Support For Unilaterally Renegotiating NAFTA

    CHANGE #5: Barack Obama Is Considering Reducing Corporate Taxes Despite Having Called Corporate Tax Cuts “The Exact Wrong Prescription For America”

    CHANGE #6: Barack Obama Has Changed Positions On Handgun Ban

    CHANGE #7: As A Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama Criticizes The Administration’s Energy Policy Despite Having Voted For The 2005 Bush-Cheney Energy Bill

    CHANGE #8: Barack Obama Has Shifted From Opposing Welfare Reform To Celebrating Welfare Reform

    CHANGE #9: Barack Obama Has Shifted Positions On Nuclear Power

    CHANGE #10: During The Primaries, Barack Obama Pledged To Filibuster Any Bill Which Contained Immunity For Telecommunications Companies Involved In Electronic Surveillance, But Now he has voted in favor of FISA while Senator Clinton voted against it.

    CHANGE #11: Barack Obama Disagreed With The Supreme Court Decision Striking Down The Use Of The Death Penalty For A Convicted Child Rapist Although In The Past He Opposed The Death Penalty

    CHANGE #12: Barack Obama Has Backtracked From His Earlier Commitment To Meet With The Leaders Of State Sponsors Of Terror “Without Precondition”

    CHANGE #13: After Saying Jerusalem Should Be “Undivided,” Barack Obama Has Since Backtracked

    CHANGE #14: As A Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama Has Backed Away From His Earlier Support For Normalized Relations With Cuba And Ending The Embargo

    CHANGE #16: Barack Obama Says That “Mental Distress” Should Not Be Reason For A Late Term Abortion Which Contradicts His Past Pro-Choice Views

    CHANGE #17: Barack Obama has come out in full support and expressed his desire to expand on Bush’s faith based initiative programs although he has said previously that he values this Nations principle of the separation of church and state.
    Which is exactly the principle that such programs violate.

    If anything that cover should be taken as a warning of the terrible fate that awaits this Nation if that man ever becomes the commander in chief.

  • RPCV

    Rory: Your prize? A night with the woman of your choice, and that you’ll love it.

    That’s about as likely to happen as the New Yorker article is not an accurate reflection of fact……

  • mark

    RPCV and Churchill-y
    who pays you f*cktards to come on a queer blog to dump this racist sh*t?
    You don’t spark conversations, and you are merely an annoyance like spam, no one takes you seriously.

  • Charley

    Every one in the media is talking about including BBC. It helps Obama, in that it clears things up. He is not a Muslim, now it is stated, over and over and over, on every station.

  • rory

    But…it’s not an article RPCV…it’s a cartoon.

    Oh god it’s happened the cartoons have become sentient…er… factual! Hide the lasagna! For the love of god hide the lasagna!

  • Mr C

    Thanks Charlie,

    Besides why should any of you challenge R2D2 and Crunkcrazy-Y on their hate for this Man. I have never seen a politician yet who doesn’t switch positions.

    Once again Crunkcrazy-Y since you like throwing BIG WORDS in your posts. Then I guess your ready for a WHITE collar job. If you meet requirements that is.

  • Here

    Mr C,

    do you have to use the name R2D2 for someone who is so annoying? R2D2 is awesome and RPCV is , well, not.

  • RPCV

    Queerunity: I agree. That’s why I read it!!!

  • Scooter Bangs

    God, the New Yorker is just Star magazine for college graduates. And since it’s clear no one commentting actually read the magazine, here’s the spoiler: There IS no article about Obama and the rumors. There are two Obama related articles- a feature by Ryan Lizza about Obama’s political past in Chicago and a short piece by Hertzberg on Obama’s, and in part, all politician’s, ‘flip-flopping’ on issues. No overt discussions about race. Sorry. But I saved you $4.50.
    The New Yorker pretentious? sure, but not racist, xenophobic (and why the fear of strangers or foreigners might be relevant totally escapes me ) or even absurd. Once you get passed the audacity of the cover it perfectly illustrates the absurd racism and xenophobia of AMERICA, not it’s editorial board. Someone here made the most interesting point which is that the bigger this cover story gets, the more people will know emphatically that the absurd, racist, xenophobic rumours that have dogged Obama are untrue. Win-win. Now go write your angry emails and get Remnick his huge yr-end bonus!

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