July 15th, 2008
09:10 AM ET
10 years ago

New Yorker editor defends Obama cover


Watch New Yorker editor David Remnick defend the magazines controversial cover.

(CNN) - Amid widespread criticism over The New Yorker cover illustration that portrays Barack Obama in Muslim garb and wife Michelle Obama as a gun-toting militant, the publication's editor told CNN Monday he doesn't regret approving the use of the controversial image.

Watch: Remnick on The Situation Room

David Remnick, the longtime editor of the highly-regarded publication, said he believes the ironic intent of the illustration will be clear to most Americans.

"The idea is to attack lies and misconceptions and distortions about the Obamas, and their background and their politics. We've heard all of this nonsense about how they're supposedly insufficiently patriotic, or soft on terrorism," he said. "That somehow the fist bump is something that it's not. And we try to put all of these images in one cover, and to satirize and shine a really harsh light on something that could be incredibly damaging."

The cover - which shows the pair in the Oval Office, with an American flag burning and a picture of Osama bin Laden - has been widely criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. On Sunday evening Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton called it "tasteless and offensive." John McCain said Monday it is "totally inappropriate."

Bernard Parks, a California city council member and supporter of Barack Obama, told CNN he is calling for a boycott of the liberal-leaning magazine.

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (527 Responses)
  1. John, MA

    How can you defend stupidity?

    July 14, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  2. Ed

    I actually think this is a Democrat contrived trick to smear Republicans.

    July 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. Becky in Indiana

    I'm sure the New Yorkers intentions were that the people that see the cover are smart enough to read the article that goes along with it. Unfortunately, most people just see the cover and judge on it alone and the editor should know that. Bad call New Yorker. Write your apology and lets move on.

    July 14, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Jenny

    Sad day for the New Yorker

    July 14, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  5. Obama 08

    I want to see a cover satirizing McCain...we'll see how funny that is.

    July 14, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  6. Willy

    Pictures worth a 1000 words.

    July 14, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  7. Paul "Hussein" Democrat

    Does Fox News' parent company own The New Yorker?

    July 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    This cartoon couldn't be more accurate. Obama will NOT salute the flag nor have ANYTHING to do with it. (DON'T MAKE HIM WEAR A FLAG~!) Don't MAKE him salute the flag. Don't make him salute the flag NOR sing the National Anthem. His wife was never proud of the US .......until recently. They are SO ANTI AMERICAN. ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS RUNNING THIS COUNTRY. Then they can BURN the flag and NEVER sing the song again.....Wow. Can't wait.

    July 14, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  9. Griff

    Sublime???The is no Hidden message, in this Charicature. The Hero.... The Metomorphosis.... Of Obama.... is left in the mind, of the Artistic World...

    July 14, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  10. Obama is The One

    freesom of speech. The satire is fine. It requires an explanation though...clearly printed in the magazine...even on the actual cover maybe.

    July 14, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. Big D

    I'd say it missed its mark. The right spent the whole day chortling about this and sharing this gleefully with each other. If they were the intended target, why did they end up enjoying it so much? And the left spent the day being accused of not having a sense of humor. So it was overall a win for the right and a loss for the left. So what was the intent of that satire again?

    July 14, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. Female, Republican

    Some of you guys should really get your facts straight. Barack Obama has not commented on the New Yorker cover. Someone made a comment about Clinton or Bush being depicted as rednecks. There is a HUGE difference between calling someone a redneck and calling someone a terrorist. There's free speech and then there's reckless, irresponsible journalism. Guys, don't act like you don't know the difference. To many foreign nations George Bush is viewed as a terrorist. Some of you seem to think the only terrorists in the world are Muslim.

    July 14, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  13. NPA

    This blunder goes to show a disconnect between intelligence and wisdom. Many intelligent people choose to live in a box, ignoring the larger context of the world in whose social network we all belong.

    More specific to this cover art, a person should not have to take into account an author's reputation, namely the New Yorker, in order to appreciate that author's work. Were this cartoon published by Fox News, no one defending it now would be defending it. Hence, whatever image an art conjures per se (i.e., without taking the author's background into account) is the true message of that art.

    July 14, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. Mike

    Uh Yeah Right. Confront the racial stereotypes by posting a disparageing caricature that would obviously be posted world wide.
    Avant Gard journalism? I think not. How about sleezy cheap tactics to sell a boring rag and generate publicity for a mediocre publication.

    July 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. ted

    Nothing subliminal about that message. Looks about right .

    July 14, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. Vanessa

    Hmm...so were minstrel shows satire too?

    July 14, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Kim

    Love that first post. A village idiot PUMA member illustrating what a group of low life losers they are.

    July 14, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. keesa

    Why not have a cover with WarBUSH & WarCAIN holding the America people under their foot laughing while american people Whining about the gas prices & food prices Morgage company falling Banks loseing money .

    July 14, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. marion mcclinton

    Let's slow up people. First there is a flap covering the New Yorker cover. If I didn't know what to look for I would have walked right by it. Second Sir Roland is right, the picture was not put into any context for those very few people who do not read the New Yorker, which can actually spread the ignorance instead of defining it. Third all good satire is saturated with wit. I saw none there. Bad satire closes opening night. Lastly, the New Yorker is too arrogant and elitist to care about any damage they might cause or any ignorance they might help foster. Great works of art are left to the imagination and interpretation of the audience for meaning. Great satire has a specific point it wishes to make with the attitude of a razor cut across a throat. This was just sloppy satire meant to sell magazines. Nothing more, nothing less, no matter how full of themselves the New Yorker ihas become. Being liberal doesn't necessarily mean being wise. Look at all the Hillary Clinton supporters who are refusing to get behind the party candidate. Another four years of GOP misrule. That'll show him..

    July 14, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. John

    The magazine's explanation is BS. The articles inside have nothing to do with the false rumors of Obama's religious background or "patriotism" problem. It is about his rise in Chicago politics. This cover was just a cynical attempt to sell magazines.

    Secondly, this is the first time that we've seen so much attention being placed by the media on rumors/innuendo that everyone knows is demonstrably false. A greater percentage of Americans believe that Bush had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks (22%) than believe that Obama is a muslim (10%). Why weren't the media covering the crazy 9/11 conspiracies like they are covering Obama's "muslim" problem? The media loves to trot out Obama's problem with the rumors/innuendo, but in fact it is the fact that they discuss it so often that is keeping them alive. There will ALWAYS be a small minority in this country that is willing to believe ANYTHING – why don't we just ignore them? The media is driving this story – plain and simple.

    July 14, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  21. Fella from Chicago

    No need to defend the cover or explain its purpose. Obama is thin skinned and there's going to be a whole lot more deflammatory caricatures not only in the American media, but magazines and newspapers throughout the world depicting him in a less than favorable light at times; maybe even with racist overtures. Get use to it Barack, it goes with the Presidential territory.

    July 14, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  22. Tim

    I don't understand the uproar over this! Satire in The New Yorker has been around for a long time! There has been no uproar over the numerous "The Onion" articles that have been released that could be construed as offensive. I find the fact that this is even an issue pathetic.

    July 14, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. K Adams

    I saw the cover of Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama. I will never by a New Yorker Magazine again. Satire is one thing but you crossed the line. In this time of war against terrorism, to portray the Obama's as such is not satire its sick.

    July 14, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. NPA

    For the commentators who appeal to Freedom of Speech and argue that Obama should take it like a man, then perhaps the New Yorker too should take it like a man and stop trying to argue that they were trying to help Obama's image. I read the comments above, and the defenders of the cartoon don't argue that the message was smear, but rather that Obama should get used to it.

    Freedom of Speech does not mean libel is not a crime.

    July 14, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. Surge

    He's right. It's not racist. People are trying to make it racist for their own self-serving purposes.

    Any public personality or group espousing a philosophy of equality yet thinks that they – and their supporters or detractors – are immune to public satire is clearly interested less in equality but more in special treatment.

    Where were the Obama race-baiters when Hillary was the victim of not only satire by the press, ridicule by Obama supporters, but open and blatant sexism on the campaign trail and beyond?

    So much for equality. So much for change.

    July 14, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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