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. arc, Lugano CH

    People weren’t ready for such a statement, even from the New Yorker magazine which is known for provoking discussion among readers about themselves on a range of topics. The publication’s attempt at bringing to light the ironic hypocrisy embedded deeply in the isolationist fear and lifelong bigotry of many ‘Democratic’ Hillary Supporters among others came much too soon to be viewed as nothing more than inappropriate. Many Hillary Supporters undoubtedly viewed the cover as a personal victory, a way to justify that their hatred, their xenophobia is acceptable. But the joke is on them! The cover was meant in some ways to reveal to their fellow Americans, and to readers around the world what has been going on in America these past few months. But the world already knew.

    July 15, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    TACKY.... I'm sick to death of the racial/ethnic crap concerning Obama.... The media needs to stop making an issue of this. Calling a tasteless cartoon satire doesn't make it so.

    July 15, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  3. chuck

    Hello people, it's called satire. Obviously the guys christian....reverend wright anyone. Has anything even been mentioned about the contect of the actual article? Because the piece shoots holes thru alot of things the swift boat crowd's been saying about the man.

    If you can't grasp the fact the the picture actually implies the opposite of what it's depicting, you don't deserve the right to vote.

    O'r the Land of the dumb!!!! and the home of the morons!!!!!

    A Vet

    July 15, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. katiec

    Believe the New Yorker went overboard in their satire.
    At a time when electing a president is probably more
    important than ever, the radicals, prejudiced, uninformed
    do not need something that they "feel" supports their
    unfounded beliefs.
    Satire is supposed to be funny. This certainly was not.
    And. many do not know the meaning of satire and look
    at pictures instead of reading words. These people
    will be the most influenced by this unprofessional
    depiction of Michelle and Barack.
    No one deserves to be treated this way.

    July 15, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Wanda, elgin, texas


    July 15, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. The US abolishes centuries old practices?: racism, status quo,entitlement, clintons

    this is horrible, and it is simply spreading lies and doing clinton and mcbush a favor, ............

    while we must have free speech, we ought not to continue to spread lies that will fuel hatred and more racism and lies here and everywhere.

    does anyone know where to write them or where to send complaints about this???

    we have known the New Yorker and the NYT are clinton long time and forever supporters... so we can expect more kitchen sink politics

    July 15, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Alex

    People, even are supposed leaders, are remarkably blind when it comes to wit and satire. Somewhere Colbert, Stewart, and Jonathan Swift are giggling about all this.

    July 15, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. Tony

    It seems like they learned from Hitler, all the propaganda against a group because it religious believe.
    I guess they are try to justify what Hitler did against the Jewish community.

    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. NPA

    How many people in that editorial room got the joke after seeing the cartoon for the first time? I am guessing not that many. My guess is that the idea seemed so cool and so brilliant at the time, that the editors decided to overlook all negative potential fallouts and took the attitude that they will apologize after the fact.

    Freedom of speech is the right of everyone; so the paper may publish whatever they seem fit. But the insult came when the New Yorker tried to argue that they were trying to help Sen Obama fight these misconceptions.

    I have listened to the New Yorker's explanations on many channels: they contradict each other. One moment they are saying they were trying to help Obama, five seconds later the same speaker says the nature of art is such that the people/audience get to decide for themselves what the image means. So which one is it? Art for art's sake or a defense of Obama? The New Yorker wants to have it both ways and there lies the insult to the Obama camp and all fair minded American.

    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Jill




    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. jfeist

    Good cover. It shows the idiotic oversimplification common in many who are anti-Obama.

    Not sure why BO is PO'd about it, as it is actually in support of his situation.

    I am still happy to be a subscriber to the New Yorker.

    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Princessa


    Seriously, I know he's not, if you do little research on his life it's evident he's Christian. But What's wrong with being Muslim? You guys are making it sound like it's a disease! Enough with this HATE already.

    This is America, the toterant country, the country that advocates diversity, the melting pot... yet this applies to all races and religions but somehow it's ok to discriminate against Muslims?

    How can we move as a country, as Americans if we keep this up?

    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. KMSH

    Brooklyn..at what point was Obama whining about this incident..he chose not to comment on it. Yes, it was tasteless satire and he chose not to address it because it wasn't worthy to be addressed...

    July 15, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. Susan

    The only beneficiaries of this 'satire' are those at The New Yorker.

    July 15, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Don't But it

    IIf they really wanted to address the myths then why nothing on the inside is written about the myths. The inside is about Obamas early days as an organizer. They screwed up and don't want to admit it, big surprise there.

    July 15, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  16. Steven

    It's pretty clear that the cover of the New Yorker was designed to poke fun at the approximately 10% of the population that believes that depiction of the Obamas. However, I think that the editor should have rethought the publication. While 90% of people understand the satire, that 10% of people that are still in the dark will only become more solidified in their belief that Obama is an Islamic terrorist. Now that being said, I don't know how much this can realistically hurt Obama... If someone actually believe that depiction of Obama, they clearly know nothing about the Presidential campaign and probably aren't going to vote or are going to blindly vote for McCain without doing research on any of the candidates. I think that putting the cartoon inside the magazine would have eliminated most of the trouble as the audience that would actually read the inside of the New Yorker would understand the satire. That being said, we must recognize that they are in business to sell magazines... and lets face it... this magazine is a red hot seller.

    July 15, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Wanda

    It would be satire if the image accompanied an article about political scare tactics and was juxtaposed next to a similar satire of John McCain. As the cover, it just reinforces them, since a majority of Americans aren't educated enough to make the connection that the artist is claiming. When old copies of this issue are sitting around in doctor's office waiting rooms around election time, those who will never actually open and read the magazine, will probably take the image at face value. I'll blame the New Yorker if McCain gets in.

    July 15, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. Pat McHale

    My initial reaction was WOW! why would they print that. After some thought and commentary on the ecable news shows I realized it was just as it always was on the cover of The New Yorker – well thought out satire. Any straight thinking person would take it just for that. If a person already harbored that opinion of the Obama's , they just thought "See, I was right". Thank God there is a place for political humor in the press.

    July 15, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. not an obamabot, thank GOD

    observer July 14th, 2008 6:27 pm ET

    This is as sick as it gets. The New York has a moral responsibility to this country. The Editor needs to be fired! Is this the society that we want to live in? Tasteless Rubbish. They should perhaps been sued into bankruptcy

    No actually the New Yorker has a responsibility to make money, which is what they did, and congrats. Yes this is the society we live in because we have FREE SPEECH, and both people who lean right and people who lean left get to practice it. If its tasteless dont read it, but get over your feelings it will be OK.

    July 15, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. vjh

    I'm for free speech, but c'mon, you have to draw the line. Whatever happened to ethics, respect, responsibility? There are still 12% of Americans who still think that Obama is a Muslim. I'm sorry, this fuels that ignorance, reading posts yesterday confirms that. As a conservative Dem, I truly took offense. Disgusting.....

    July 15, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. paul from jersey

    can't wait to see the McCain cover, any ideas?

    -grim reaper?
    -father time?
    -old man winter?

    July 15, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. JAMMIN

    That's it exactly. A lot of people do not read the words, they only look at the pictures! The folks at the New Yorker were too high and mighty to think of that, even though they were trying to do the right thing for the Obamas. Smooth move EXLAX!

    July 15, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. Lee, Irvine, CA

    It would be nice for a change to see someone in public life, be it a politician, or press, actually admit when he/she is wrong. While the intent may have been different, the result was not. It's amazing how arrogant some members of the press can be when they screw up; they fall back on 1st Amendment to defend everything, when pure and simple this was a foolish mistake. They would have been better served and respected had they admitted error. Stupid is as stupid does.

    July 15, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Michael Gilmer

    Regardless of intent, the cover is racist and clearly anti-Obama. And for the editor to sit there and claim innocence to defend the cover is silly. This is further proof of the current of racism that runs under mainstream culture in America. We are a country of racists and sexists – and a white editor of a predominately-white magazine using this kind of racist imagery on it's cover is sickening. Everyone behind the decision to use that artwork should be fired and the magazine should be boycotted.

    July 15, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  25. Jaki Maryland

    I'm waiting to see a cover depicting John McCain using satire. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. By the way what's next.

    July 15, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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