Obama camp not amused with New Yorker cover

July 14, 2008

This week’s New Yorker magazine pokes fun at smears directed at Barack Obama , but the Democratic candidate isn’t laughing.
The cover portrays Obama in Middle Eastern garb bumping fists with wife Michelle, who sports an Afro, a rifle and military garb. In the background, an American flag burns in the fireplace.

The left-leaning magazine’s cover neatly summarizes several smears that have surfaced this year: that Obama’s a “secret Muslim” who hates America, Michelle is a ’60s-style black militant.

And that fist bump, the modern version of the high five? It’s been described as a “terrorist fist jab” by a Fox News anchor, who later apologized.

The Obama campaign has taken aggressive measures to knock down these and other false rumors. It’s not amused with the magazine’s cover.

“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-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree,” spokesman Bill Burton said in a prepared statement.

Republican John McCain agreed with his rival for the November election.

“I just saw a picture of it on television. I think it’s totally inappropriate and frankly I understand if Sen. Obama and his supporters would find it offensive,” McCain told reporters in Phoenix.

What do you think? Is the cover out of bounds, or do the Obama folks need to lighten up?


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I can obviously see the intent to be satirical and funny, but this missed the mark.

Its a fine line betweeen funny and offensive, and this is offensive.

Does anybody notice that this is a heck of a lot worse than what anybody (including Wesley Clark) said about McCain?

Posted by marty | Report as abusive

Good stuff!

Posted by Derek Messer | Report as abusive

My opinion of the Obama’s summed up in one photo. FINALLY someone with the ba**s to expose them for who they are!!!!!!

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

On what do you base the accusation that these smears are coming from “right-wing” sources?

Do you have any evidence for that, or is it just the tired media meme that “right-wing”=”racist”=”evil”, etc.?

It was the Clinton campaign sending around photos of Obama in Muslim garb. It was a Hillary Clinton supporter’s website that claimed to have a tape of Michelle Obama railing against “whitey”.

Meanwhile, John McCain strongly rebuked someone who invoked Obama’s middle name when introducing McCain at a campaign event. It was a far stronger rebuke than Obama ever gave any of his surrogates who have been denigrating McCain’s service or pointing out his age to imply that he’s “confused” or senile.

In other words, if there have been smears at all, they’ve come more from Democrats than anywhere else. They certainly have not been coming from John McCain’s camp.

But I guess pointing out smears and racism in the Democratic Party just isn’t something reporters (most of whom tend to be Democrats according to several well-publicized surveys) are willing to do.

Please stick to reporting the news, not projecting your biases onto reality. (Or, alternatively, give up the pretense of objectivity and admit your bias to begin with. Now THAT would be refreshing!)

Posted by Evan Coyne Maloney | Report as abusive

Yes, the New Yorker is merely propagating the Republican smear campaign against Obama! The New Yorker has become a lackey of Right Wing Nut Jobs.

Posted by Clair | Report as abusive

What comes to mind when you hear the word “The Yorker”,?
Baseless claims by Hearsh Symour.

Posted by Jeter Cooper | Report as abusive

Re the New Yorker cover– I’m reminded of the line from The Producers: “Talk about bad taste!” If you are going to make a joke like that, it had damned well better be funny(Blazing Saddles comes to mind). Unfortunately, the New Yorker cover wasn’t nearly funny enough, so it comes across as somewhat racist, even as it lampoons the real racists.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Shame on the New Yorker!!! The cover is disgraceful.The editor(s) who approved the cover should be fired immediately.

Posted by E. McCarthy | Report as abusive

The Obama Cover is not a “Funny Lampoon”. It is not smart or reflective of an intelligent publication or even good satire. It is just a crude smear commentary on our cynical/fearful/terrorist mind-set population and will not be understood by the uneducated public as a joke…unfortunately, it will be taken seriously by many small minded people. Writers, editors and publishers with poor judgment created it. On everyone’s part it’s DUMB…especially small-minded MEDIA political types who think they are clever. It reflects the Politics of the LEFT and the RIGHT at its lowest level.
“Cartoons” are important these days with the high illiteracy rate…. a picture speak a thousand words for good or ill…Art illustration does matter!!

Just try putting a satirical cover of John McCain & wife on the cove and just see what happens …fair play, turn around and all that ha-hooey-gotcha stuff…The RIGHT will be just as upset and irate. Shame on the media for propagating MISINFORMATION/BAD NEWS/NO NEW lets sell the “public”ation down the river for big bucket magazine sales.

Posted by Kathryn Davidson | Report as abusive

[…] Obama camp not amused with New Yorker cover […]

Posted by Glass City Jungle | New Yorker Cover certainly candy for the blogosphere too… | Report as abusive

I just hope the New Yorker has the fairness and balance to give us a cover with McCain using a walker to get his teeth out of a glass, while his wife is surrounded by expensive bags and boxes (from a shopping spree) and is chugging from a beer can.

Posted by stevedenver | Report as abusive

Lighten up. You are enhancing your elitist image.

Posted by John Eaton | Report as abusive

Thanks to The New Yorker Magazine. This right wing smear will only help to ensure Senator Obama will be your next President. How do you expect others outside of America to respect America as a whole? Good work, congratulations for your stupidity!!

Posted by Frances Campbell | Report as abusive

People need to definitely lighten up on this one. I applaud the New Yorker for satirizing the moronic and closet racist attacks on Barrack and Michelle Obama. Did we even get anything resembling an explanation for the “terrorist fist-jab” comment? This cover outs the ridiculousness of the Right and their cowardly pandering to very real and subconscious American fears regarding miscegenation and foreign infiltration. Keep up the good work New Yorker!

Posted by CastaKid | Report as abusive

The Obamas need to Lawyer up.

Posted by Gonzo | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, the New Yorker cover will be used against Obama by the very right-wing critics it is trying to lampoon. That’s why both the McCain and Obama camps have denounced it – they understand how these things create even more negative campaigning and mis-information.
Both candidates have already shown they have a pretty good sense of humor, don’t take themselves too seriously, and know how to ‘lighten up’ when that’s appropriate.
In this instance, however, it is not.

Posted by Paul Lambshead | Report as abusive

Now you see it. The New Yorker magazine shows its true colors and it is not color blind. The publication is through-the-bone RACIST. I will never buy or read another issue and will work diligently to insure that not one person I know ever opens another copy. How could such evil be allowed to exist in America. Now is the time for every person supporting freedom, peace and equality to stand up, speak out and take action. New Yorker can print what they want to but only a racist fool will support them. Color that what you will!

Posted by L. Michael Black | Report as abusive

The cover sums up succinctly the Radical Right’s idiotic smears and racist paranoia. However, I no longer trust the average reader to be capable of appreciating such irony, so the cover, sad to say, probably misses its mark and is harmful to Obama. The New Yorker should have known better.

Posted by Gary Christenson | Report as abusive

It is very distasteful. I realize it is satire, but a lot of folks just don’t understand satire. The New Yorker spokespersons support the choice to publish it. Therefore, I would suggest next month they do a satirical cover on a drug-addled Cindy McCain. Hay…. it’s only satire!

Posted by Celia | Report as abusive

Muslims do not have a sense of humor and neither does Obama – he is pompous and arrogant. If he was smart he would laugh it off – in the USA nothing is reverent – has anyone watched TV lately ?

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive


The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
is the second book written by US Senator Barack Obama. It was the number three bestseller on The New York Times nonfiction list as of October 2006. The book represents Obama’s personal manifesto for his 2008 campaign for the presidency.

A quote for your review.

“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

James H. Cone

Aspects of Cone’s theology and words have been the subject of controversy in the political context of the 2008 Presidential campaign, as Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright noted that he had been inspired by Cone’s theology. Some scholars of black theology have noted that the controversial quotes do not necessarily represent black theology as it is currently practiced or the views of people like Wright who practice it. Cone has responded to the controversy by noting that he was generally writing about white churches that did nothing to oppose slavery and segregation and not about white people as individuals.
Hoover Institute fellow Stanley Kurtz, in a political commentary in National Review, wrote that “Cone defines it as “complete emancipation of black people from white oppression by whatever means black people deem necessary.” For Cone, the deeply racist structure of American society leaves blacks with no alternative but radical transformation or social withdrawal. So-called Christianity, as commonly practiced in the United States, is actually the racist Antichrist. “Theologically,” Cone affirms, “Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil.\'” The false Christianity of the white-devil oppressor must be replaced by an authentic Christianity fully identified with the poor and oppressed.”

Posted by JR Mart | Report as abusive

Just another example of the racist sublimation of the “average American” who does not understand satire and believes whatever the media suggests. A sad day for journalism. Shame on the New Yorker!!!!

Posted by Harold | Report as abusive

If nothing else, the New Yorker cover has spurred us to talk about the media-generated perceptions of the Obamas. It has also opened the door to question of “what do voters really consider when choosing a political candidate?”

By the time this “tempest in a teapot” has boiled over, no one will be able take the “terrorist” label seriously. Or so I would hope.

Posted by Mikale | Report as abusive

Interesting… I doubt that the editors allowed this cover to hurt Obama on purpose. You can argue that it will hurt him I suppose and I think it was a mistake to publish it. However, you have to wonder if this raises a big enough stink that it actually helps him by way of drawing attention to the lies.

Posted by Kelly | Report as abusive

It’s simply racist. If David Remnick doesn’t get it; he’s simply another Don Imus… more “nappy heads” for
them to mock. If David Remnick doesn’t get he’s offended muslims, christians, afro americans, and millions of others with their ‘intellectual’ bullying; New Yorker Board of Directors simply needs to follow the example of the Board of Directors at CBS… that is unless they
also are all afraid someone other than one who looks like them lives in their White House..

The first test of satire is it has to be humorous. This
wasn’t funny in the least except to racists.

Where’s the cartoon of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld sitting around a poker table all wearing their western
outfits, waving their 6 shooters and taunting the ‘insurgents’ to bring it on. 4000 Americans have died
as Bush called for the insurgents to bring it to them.

Thousands more troops have been wounded, neglected and left on the floor at Walter Reed Hospital to fend for themselves while they were less than 8 miles away from the offices of those folks who sent them into combat without proper care and equipment, Bush, his cabinet and
McCain himself who claims to be a friend of the military.

Friends don’t send friends into harm’s way in combat and then leave them to fend for themselves.

Let’s see if the New Yorker satirizes that.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

Obama has a lot of nerve with his finger pointing. He is about as dependible as the weather – and is on the far left – accusing all of us of this and that but not taking on any responsibility himself.

Shame on him

Posted by lee | Report as abusive

Tim Russert, where art thou? Please send forth the rainbow and HEAL
the MEDIA industry. It truly has lost its way!

Posted by McKay | Report as abusive

I think it’s a riot. The only reason his supporters are so upset is the ring of truth this cartoon suggests, I am a little surprised they didn’t add Barack’s Racist ties to this cartoon. I give the New Yorker much credit for having the backbone to do this. Did the Obama supporters think he was going to cake walk to the POTUS?
His closet has way too many skeletons.This is only the beginning.

Posted by Walt | Report as abusive

RE: 3:45pm …”how could such evil be allowed to exist in America?” I think that would be the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, have you heard of it? I was texting with friends today wondering if I was the only Liberal who “got it”. Not the only it seems, but one of a few. Kind of sad.

Posted by JP | Report as abusive

The New Yorker cartoon is offensive. It’s the modern day equivalent of portraying African Americans in cotton field clothes. Frankly, it just looks like an updated racial stereotype. If the Obama’s weren’t African Americans, there is no way they would be drawn like that.

I read a quote where the New Yorker editor claimed they were just trying to lampoon how Obama’s right wing critics were portraying him. If the editor really believes that, then he is stupider about the media and the American public than someone who doesn’t work in the media. The vast majority of people will see the picture, get no context, and just associate Obama and his wife as a radicals.

If they want to joke about the candidates, pick something with less racial overtones, and something that those of us who read the New Yorker would actually find funny.

Posted by Sam Goldberg | Report as abusive

hey guys, It’s a CARTOON. Not only that, it’s a NEW YORKER CARTOON, of course its not meant to be taken seriously, it was printed to illustrate the falsehoods and myths that the media and GOP have concocted, if you take it seriously, than I am to assume that “sarcasm” and “satire” have never been in your vocab.

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

Too many people in the US simply do not understand satire — its intent or purpose. Instead of showing what Obama is NOT — why not really come up with something that shows what he is FOR in a satirical/humorous way?


Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

It’s a damn cartoon. Lighten up. We’ve gone way too far with the “politically correctness” stuff. Let the press have the freedom that our Constitution and Amendments provide and promise.

Posted by David A Vance | Report as abusive

When was the last time a Presidential Candidate did a “FIST BUMP” ON TV like they actually did ??

Michelle actually sat down with Farrakhan and agreed with him soapboxing about the Whitey’s.

We don’t need more of Obama.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

I can understand the Obama camp reason for the politically weighed response, but all you people who comment about never buying a New Yorker again because the magazine is secretly racist or something need to relax a little.

Posted by Brad | Report as abusive

I’ll have to go with David Vance — “It’s a damn cartoon!!” Let it go and let’s try – at least – to fix America….


Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

Please see my visual suggestion for the New Yorker. The cover only lacks context:

http://heatherleila3.blogspot.com/2008/0 7/what-they-should-have-done.html

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

[…] the New Yorker magazine tried to satirize some of the myths about Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack […]

Posted by Satire alert — New JibJab video out! | Ertx.com – Updated Every 20 Minutes | Report as abusive

The magazine cover pokes fun at those who would stereotype the Obamas so crudely. It is a reasonable attempt to shame the 10% polled who believe Barack Obama to be Muslim, and those who would claim he is anti-American.

The correct Obama response was given by John Stewart of the Daily Show. To paraphrase:
It’s a cartoon! If I was an anti-American jihadist, I would be offended by cartoons, but as a Christian American, I am not offended, and the cartoonists have the right to print what they wish.

There has been lots written about how it is hard to tell jokes about Obama, because there is no obvious hook, like womanizing for Bill Clinton and age for John McCain, but I think all this rejecting and renouncing that Obama does might be reaching a level of self-parody.

Posted by David Rasmussen | Report as abusive