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. Voice of reason

    A picture says a thousand words. The idiots who believe Obama is muslim and unpatriotic would only see the picture. It would only reinforce their stupid belief. I think this is poor judgement from the Editor of the New Yorker

    July 15, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. Shirley

    David remnick the editor of the New Yorker is suffering from a serious case of "being out of touch" and hubris if he does understand why most people find the cover image offensive. The message of fear should have been delivered another way….this is truly a disasterous case of bad judgement.

    July 15, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Kara

    Does the Obama spokesperson really think that all Americans are so stupid as to not get the joke? He underestimates us, because I think the cover is hilarious and a great way to promote discussion about all the misconceptions about Barack Obama. Are we supposed to just bury our heads in the sand anytime anything potentially un-p.c. is said or in this case, illustrated? Do people no longer use critical thinking? Apparently not.

    July 15, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Steve of NE

    The point of any campaign of any given year is to elect the best choice or choices for the direction of the country. This campaign year too much attention is being spent on finding juicy tidbits or start accusations of the opponent. I want and deserve facts about the candidates and their views! Not looking for controversy to drive interest in a story.

    The New Yorker, which I don't subscribe too, is a fine example of this controversy notion. The New Yorker's bottom line is to drive up it's sales, in other words subscription. The article only distracts from the issues of the candidates and the needs of the American people to make an educated decision to elect the best candidate for President in this country.

    We need a President that has a vision of this country at home and abroad. I want information on the War(s), economy, immigration and energy...., so I can make that educated decision.

    Please help US, the American people, to this end.

    Thank you,


    July 15, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Ms. RDS

    @Ricky...What would it matter if his father was a muslim? He didn't even grow up around his father, he was never even there. And more importantly people should be asking why would a dedicated Muslim spend 20 years in a Christian church? Doesn't make a lot of sense. And it could be me but I just don't see his white grandparents in Kansas raising him to be a Muslim, since he spent a considerable amout of time with them.

    July 15, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Grace Needed

    I agree with the bloggers who understand what the New Yorker was attempting to do – cast light on these issues that have been in the shadows, but I also agree with those who said that satire may not be the best way. In using this kind of cover, they DID cast light on these issues but the light they cast, may NOT bring truth to bear – ie.these innuendos and fear mongering tactics are wrong and shameful, BUT give people the opposite impression. What may end up happening, is the very thing they set out to discourage – more negative stereotyping and fear mongering.

    July 15, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Turning the page

    With friends like the New Yorker, a liberal leaning magazine, who needs enemies?!

    It's in large part because of the media's blantant abuse of its powers that good smart capable people shy from running for president. After treatment like this from the media, I can't imagine Barack Obama trying to run again in future should his current bid fail – G*d forbid! But then again, maybe that's exactly what the media is trying to accomplish.

    July 15, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. mickey

    Satire in cartoon form is usually an exaggeration of reality...like huge ears drawn on someone with already large ones. The problem here is the exaggeration of what is already a misconception. Polls show many Americans already believe these myths about Obama...the "man (person) on the street" coverage yesterday clearly showed that almost none of those interviewed saw the intent expressed by the magazine. Except for the attention it has brought to the New Yorker, this cover has failed completely and absolutely. It is neither funny nor profound.

    July 15, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Hilary

    Don't feed the racist morons!
    It is beyond their capacity to comprehend your intention.

    July 15, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. geecee827

    Obama isn't making such a big deal of it. Everyone else is. He has shrugged off a lot during this campaign. He isn't "whining". I am sure he just considers this another distraction in a long list of distractions that his enemies keep bringing up and just won't let go.

    July 15, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Norv

    It amazes me that other web sites can make President Bush look like Hitler, a Monkey, show him in various cartoons and its okay and promoted. But when the supposed Messiah Obama gets a little cartoon its racist, this is the reason I will never vote for a Democrat, even though there are may Republican policies I disagree with.

    The Democratic Party is a party of tolerance, as long as the tolerance is on their terms.

    This cover is exactly what Democrats do, and they do not like a taste of their own medicine from a LIBERAL magazine.

    We need to wonder whats wrong with politics?

    July 15, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. A CANUCK

    The New Yorker cover is satirical and an obvious distortion of the Obamas......it is also tasteless and offensive.....but unfortunately many Americans will simply look at the cover and vote Republican. This is the very disturbing reality. Obama 2008

    July 15, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Living in the USA

    I am surprised they didn't have him riding in white bronco like OJ Simpson saying he stole the election from Hiliary.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Debby

    Well I guess you can say look at all tasteless cartoon characatures made about Pres. Bush and he didn't whine about them. It goes along with the territory when your either Pres. or the nominee.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. Sara

    The New Yorker cover page is tasteless to say the least. Burning the flag was the worst, and there has been no evidence proving that he is a Muslim. He was not raised by his father, and his father's absence in his life makes him realize even more so the importance of this role. I have just fininshed reading "Dreams of My Father". Those who have doubts about Obama (even those who do not), should read this book. His amazing and seemingly wonderful childhood is apparent and made so special by his mother and grandparents. Just through their love and evotion, they turned the difficult times into good times. Out of his strong desire for education, (he had a most inquisitive mind) which was also a strong focus of his mother and grandparents, and other valuable traits he learned from childhood and forward, comes this wonderfully brilliant man caring for all people and his country – OBAMA, OUR NEXT PRESIDENT.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. Debbie

    The editor says that "intelligent" Americans will see this as satire. I consider myself an intelligent American and I find this offensive and disgusting. Journalism should be about the truth not adding more fuel to the flame of lies about the Obamas. I"ve purchased my last New Yorker . By the way, I'm voting for McCain so this is not an Obama fan stating this.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. rz

    Let us see if New Yorker is fair and balanced so it will have a cover of McCain in a simmiler sitire.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Kevin - IN

    There are two sides to this debate, both valid. The New Yorker is doing satire. The Obama campaign is correct that the satire is just as offensive as the real thing. I'm sure a lot of people will only see the cover, and not give it much more thought.

    Overall though, I believe that anything that causes heated discussion is a good thing, long term. These things need to be aired out.

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. Mike - Texas

    If Obama thinks that this is bad now, if he gets elected it will be at least 10 times worse. He is just going to have to get used to it.

    I wonder how many time Obama chucked at all of the various caricatures of Bush with a Hitler mustash or as a redneck over the years?

    I'd bet that he didn't find it distasteful then. It is kind of different when the shoe is on the other foot isn't it Obama?

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Amber

    Americans Don't Get "Irony." They take everything literally, as evidenced in all of the comments below and everyone's "shock" at the cover. Given that Americans are not sharp enough to get satire, they will take it literally. That is why everyone is freaking out. Thus, the New Yorker did a great disservice to Obama and just confirmed the incredibly ignorant, bigoted right wingers out there. "Thanks," NYer!

    July 15, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. ran

    This was incendiary and in poor taste. Also, I don't recall any other presidential candidate ever having to be subjected to this kind of bigotry.

    July 15, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. eric

    one more example of the media refusing to ever admit a misjudgment....cowardice at its highest level......

    sure it was satire...but given the circumstances and the many who do cannot understand satire..all this cover did was serve as a distraction(at the very least) from a national debate on the issues.....

    July 15, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    Why is everyone making such a big fuss. The cover shows the truth.

    July 15, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. marty from Indiana

    If it was an attempt at satire.... it failed. I have read many comments on this blog site of people who believe as truth what they saw on the cover. Satire works only if people are intelligent enough to understand it as satire and make changes in their life. So you failed and it IS TOTALLY TASTELESS. You should take a course in satire sometime before attempting satire.

    July 15, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. webster208

    Where can I buy a copy of the New Yorker? I went to 2 neighborhood bookstores, and it has sold out. I do not usually buy the New Yorker, but I will now as my vote for freedom of expression. People are just too sensitive when it comes to the Obamas, you cannot use satire to analyze their background or positions. If he is going to be in politics, running the most powerful country on earth, he should be ready for more blistering attacks from critics. There is nothing wrong with that, and he and his supporters should not be too onion-skinned.

    July 15, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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