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

New Yorker editor defends Obama cover

CNN

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. Raymond Duke

    It is a shame this man is having to defend this satyre concerning the Obamas. He never had to defend all the satyre he used against the Bush Administration. The liberals didn't say a word when Rice was portrayed as a "monkey " or portayed as a slave type figure. That race issue only comes up when it can used by the democrats and it is convient. As far as I am concerned I think the picture porrtays Obama and his wife perfect based off their actions and words.

    July 15, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. fraulein

    Hey Brooklyn –

    Obama is not whining about this – everyone else is. He released one comment regarding this and said there are more important things to think about.
    As for the cover – it's racist and offensive. When you exploit caracatures of people – it's racist. It's the same as the people in the south selling t-shirts depicting Obama as a monkey. When have we ever seen Michelle Obama in an afro?
    I think that the mistake was two fold – one – thinking that people would see the intellectual satire in this which is too high brow for all of those making these false claims – and two – not having any real statement in the magazine dispelling any of the myths. The article talked of Obama as a politician but I have not seen anything dispelling any of the themes in the cover.
    The danger is that what seems to be a caracature directed at the intelligenstsia, is also a wink and a nod to the racists who believe this nonsense. I suspect that this will just reiterate their beliefs.

    July 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. People make no sense

    You knew he was a white man! Where's the picture of McCain in his devil uniform, kiling babies and smacking on woman calling them bad words while gambling with U.S. dollars?

    Someone name me one New York cover that ever depicted a politican in this manner and I won't call him a racist.

    Thought not!

    July 15, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. John from LA

    Typical Obamabots-they're missing the point-this mag has poked fun at EVERYONE-why is the "Messiah" and his followers pissed off??-is he off limits???-This is free speech at its best-Good for the Editor to stand by his decision-at least this man makes a decision and sticks with it!

    BO needs to explain himself and his policies in depth!!!-This country needs a leader who leads!!!-not rhetoric.

    July 15, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. Brian

    No need to defend yourself. I liked it! Keep up the good work!

    July 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. The Real Issue

    Obama being a Muslim is a non-issue. It is simply not true. Anyone with any knowledge and intelligence knows that the Muslim religion is not a problem and that we have millions living in America and have been living here for years. The problem with the caracature is not what was drawn but how......Obama in Muslim dress-not true/ Mrs. Obama with guns and Afro-not true....flag burning-not true/Bin Laden picture in White House–not true.....but some far out believe it and dream it and that's what's wrong.......It's racist whether it's satire or not.

    This is too important of an election to spread untruths.....This even effects the future business of the New Yorker.....We have corporate bankruptcies-bank bankruptcies-problems with Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac-job eliminations-job layoffs-foreclosures-predatory lending-money going to Iraq........

    The New Yorker needs to make a caricature of real issues so Americans can be informed. The country depends on the media to speak to the truths!!!!

    July 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. Nancy

    I loved it... Obama is getting a little taste of what Hillary got and like everything other time he is whining about it. STOP whining act like a leader and brush it off. For all of the Obama supporters, QUIT CRYING, Grow up and open your eyes, life is not fair sometimes. In this case the New Yorker got it Correct.

    July 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    The cover never did what it was intended to do and it’s a big misfire for the New Yorker. Like someone said a lot of people will see the cover and very few will see the irony in it. Sad to say there are so many people crying freedom of speech and again they don’t see the irony in it just the same way we get lost in other constitutional rights etc.

    Freedom/Independence can be defined in simplest of terms as “being responsible”. If you know no responsibility then you know no freedom.

    July 15, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Larry~

    If one has to take time to explain what they were trying to do...it means whatever they were trying to do DID NOT work!

    I am sure the far right have already framed the cover and hung it on their walls with plans to use it in the fall to get the racist and hatemongers fired up.

    Good job New Yorker...NOT!!!!!!

    July 15, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Ignorant New Yorker

    A sad day for America. Racism, can never be disguised as satire.

    July 15, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  11. online reader

    Noone ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. This will do more harm than good because the vast majority of Americans are too stupid to pick up on the high-brow theme of the cover.

    I mean, it was the toothless NASCAR dads with high school educations (barely) and their beloved F150s and ATVs who swayed the last election. Those folks haven't gotten any smarter people.

    July 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Tiger

    I agree with Bernard Parks to boycott magazine. If all candiates are fair game then why is McClain wife not shown with her dope habit. First of all McClain wife would not be a good first lady, because at any given time she could go back to using drugs to help ease the problems. McClain is to old to become President, he would not last 4 years in office. It is time for a change in politics. So why don't you start showing some of McClain issues. Such as McClain was aganist Martin Luther Kings Jr. birthday becoming a holiday, he held out until AZ wanted the superbowl to be held there, so he only changed to get that money!

    tiger

    July 15, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Brooke

    There is still Free Speech in this country. I am surprised that some people want to boycott or condemn this magazine for using their 1st Amendment rights. If the whole Obama crowd could get off of their high horse for just a minute and think rationally (I know, I'm asking for a lot) they would see this cover is actually attacking the falsehoods and misconceptions about their candidate. What is beginning to worry me is the "whole world is against us" bunker mentality of the Obama supporters.

    July 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. david

    HELLO AMERICANS (AND THAT INCLUDES THE MEDIA)
    THIS IS A REMINDER
    IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED FREEDOM SPEECH, FREEDOM OF PRESS AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

    THIS IS NOT SADDAM HUSSEIN'S IRAQ. SADDAM HUSSEIN RAN IRAQ BY ATTACKING THE PRESS AND CONTROLLING THEM. THERE WAS NO FREEDOM OF PRESS THERE. IS THIS HOW BARACK HUSSEIN PLANS TO RUN OUR CONTRY.

    July 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  15. Opinion Aplenty

    I don't think the cover has anything to do with conveying any messages, but more about selling the magazine. Well, it worked, but at what cost? This cover will be the neo-conversative's star poster.

    July 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. atypical

    I understand and can appreciate the intention, but their approach still seems inappropriate and irresponsible.

    "A picture is worth a thousand words," and for many of those who only saw the picture and didn't or don't intend to read the article, I imagine their negative impressions will only be reaffirmed.

    Ironically, in many ways, The New Yorker perpetuated the very thing they were denoucing: media hype and distortions, which then makes me wonder–just a bit–if this "blunder" was actually a well-conceived plan.

    July 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. JonRoss

    CNN lead stories this morning – Two positive or sympathetic mentions of Obama. None at all for McCain.

    July 15, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. david

    HELLO AMERICANS (AND THAT INCLUDES THE MEDIA)
    THIS IS A REMINDER
    IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED FREEDOM SPEECH, FREEDOM OF PRESS AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

    THIS IS NOT SADDAM HUSSEIN'S IRAQ. SADDAM HUSSEIN RAN IRAQ BY ATTACKING THE PRESS AND CONTROLLING THEM. THERE WAS NO FREEDOM OF PRESS THERE.
    IS THIS HOW BARACK HUSSEIN PLANS TO RUN OUR COUNTRY.?

    July 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. CL OT

    The Democrats are a bunch of cry babies!!! I am so sick of listening to them. Racism, sexism, etc... Life is so unfair, boo-hoo.

    Grow up!

    July 15, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. Sylvia

    so I guess this is the beginning of Obama...he takes away our freedom of speech....everyone can trash the Clintons but GOD forbid we "touch" the Obamas????

    July 15, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  21. Dan, NJ

    The cover was obviously satire... to many people. The real problem is, many of the people the cartoon is making fun of don't get the joke. The cartoon goes out of its way to say "hey idiots, Obama is not a terrorist, he does not hate America and his wife is not a black militant." And the fact that it is so over the top goes to show how insulting and condescending it is intended to be to those who believe those things true. The New Yorker certainly has a reputation for seeing itself as very highbrow and sophisticated (who remembers the Seinfeld episode where Elaine asked the New Yorker editor what a cartoon in the magizine meant and he didn't know?).

    The problem with the cartoon is that it has predictably become yet another rallying cry used by the very people it was intended to enlighten (or insult). Most Americans would be offended by the story in the press calling them a terrorist.

    July 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  22. Victor Kirilloff

    The New Yorker editor is a jerk- sad that such people are in that type of control

    July 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. Lou Ada Ok.

    This sort of cartoon items surface at every election. If you can not take the heat get out of the kitchen.

    July 15, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  24. HRC3655

    BO needs to toughen up, if he can't take a magazine cover what will happen when faced with a really tough choice? Guess Sweetie is figuring out it's gonna be a harder job than he thought.

    July 15, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. beevee

    If the editor is a truly supporter of Obama he has an idiotic way of showing it.

    July 15, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
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