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. Phil-Little Rock

    If it's satire, he should have said so. Only an idiot would leave it to the likes of some people in this country (many of them even more idiotic than he is) to INFER that he was trying to be funny. I mean really, for all the people that just finished therapy, getting over thinking Obama's a Muslim, this for them is now a relapse. Thanks, New Yorker. Thanks for proving that big titles like Editor don't replace stupidity.

    July 15, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Dennis Tx

    Hey Ricky,
    Obamas father was not Muslim, he was atheist and his mother was Christian. Please do your research people as to not misinform the ignorant

    July 15, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. TerryDo

    Is the satire caricature True or False?
    Obvious from the over reaction from the Obama team it is TRUE!
    I think thou dost protest to much!
    There is always a hint of truth in every joke and in every satire.
    He has leaning towards the Muslims as he stated in his own book. To paraphrase, when push comes to shove, I will be on the side of the Muslims.
    And Michelle, is a radical as she stated in her university thesis.
    We do not change our stripes overnight, as Obama would love for people to believe; especially about his leaving the Black Theology teachings of Rev. Wright.
    So, I would conclude that the satirical drawing was right on, and that it is a true reflection of the Obama's hidden mind set.
    PumaPac, Democratic Supporters for H.R. Clinton, demand her name be placed in nomination for The First Roll Call at the Denver Convention!!!
    Come and join our noble cause!

    July 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Jean-Marie

    Obama has weathered worse than this arrogant misfiring satire by The New Yorker. This will only help him watch his flanks more, since he already has no illusions about this country's racism and general stupidity, the intellectual left included. Yet he refuses to become cynical about it and he does not lose his bearings in hatred and recrimination, not to mention retaliation. Anyone who can deal so admirably and intelligently with this kind of misguided stupidity, as displayed by The New Yorker, will make a truly great president.

    Obama 08 – YOU ARE THE MAN!!!

    July 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Don

    What is so tasteless about this? People have been saying this anyway. Someone just had to paint the picture. If it's not true why bother?

    July 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Bob (Maryland)

    Yes, most people may understand the satire, but what about the 10 percent who believe that Obama is a Muslim? The supposedly sophisticated editors of New Yorker should have been aware of psychology research showing that an image depicting emotional beliefs can be accepted uncritically as confirming a viewer's prejudices, even when accompanied by words declaring that the views depicted in the image are false.

    July 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Voter

    Well, I guess Obama is entirely too delicate to be the president. Just think – four years of tiptoeing around His Majesty so as not to reduce him to tears on any given day.



    It's been a long time since we've had a leader who entirely lacks any sense of humor or wit. Nor have we had a president in the memory of most Americans who takes himself quite this seriously.

    Being Barack Obama is serious business, I guess.

    This is just another reason to give this self-important oh-so-moral-and-just fellow a miss this year.

    One price Mr. O. will pay if elected (or selected, I can't wait to see how that goes) is that people will go after him with a true vengeance. No kidding-no humor, just attack, and do it very well. He insists on the take-no-prisoners approach because one cannot joke about or satirize or publicly – just go for the throat.

    I'm not voting for four years of this.

    July 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. people say No to McCain

    CNN this was sooo yesterday....but lets see how many ignorant people still think those things about Obama are true.

    July 15, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. 4America

    FREE SPEECH?!!!!! - HA, HA, HA, HA!!!! Right!! Is that why Brush labeled ANYONE who opposed illegally invading Iraq for oil and killing 1 MILLION brown people an anti-patriot and a traitor?

    Whining?!!!! Like McCain and his Enron enabling BFF, Gramm, calling us a Nation of whiners? I am absolutely certain those Katrina victims drowning in their homes were "whining" while McCain was having birthday cake with Brush!!!!!!!

    HOW MANY AMERICANS HAVE TO DIE BEFORE WE GROW A BRAIN?!!! Look up NORTHWOODS & study physics - the PNAC should be clear.

    July 15, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Phil-Little Rock

    BROOKLYN July 14th, 2008 6:42 pm ET

    Mr. Remnick should NOT have to defend anything… This is his right, this is OUR right as Americans to speak what we feel… And ANYONE that wants to be the Commander and Chief of our Nation should in fact be well aware of this…

    Seems like Mr. Obama is not.
    Well, how about we take Mr. Remnick, put a yarmulka on that fat head of his, have him hold a copy of the Torah and a '10-Commandments' style document denying Palestine their rights? Let's see how funny that story would be!!

    July 15, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Scott

    "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."

    BOY!.... I can't wait until the conservative-leaning magazines comes out with their Obama issues. I haven't bought a New Yorker mag in yrs but I will buy this one.

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's the most intelligent candidate we have, and by far the best we have to open dialogue with the Muslim countries as well as the rest of the world.
    OBAMA '08 AND '12!

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. Yoda ... You seek Yoda

    We need to stop defending everything in this country.

    The words "I'm sorry, I was wrong" need to re-enter the public vocabulary.

    It was tasteless ... you blew it ... stand up and be man about it.

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Uncle Sam

    In the wake of the recent New Yorker magazine cover which has generated such controversy, the real facts of Barack Obama's Muslim heritage continue to be overlooked. It seems that in the spirit of transparency and healing, it would have served Sen. Obama well to have embraced his Muslim background and extended family. By denying its truth, Barack Obama has in effect denied an important part of himself. Subsequently, many Americans remain mistrustful of Obama, suspecting " that where there's smoke, there's fire."
    And who wants to get burned?

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. TDKS

    Think about the readership base of the New Yorker. Now, think of how many people are not part of that base. Now, think of all the people who would have never known this cover existed had the Obama campaign ignored it. They're not offended; they know they can get sympathy out of this, in a time when it's running short.

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  16. Mark

    Nothing funny about that. Satire or not, it was really lowbrow and completely inappropriate for a "rag" that calls itself progressive.

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  17. anonymous

    Hey, if the truth hurts, you'd better pay attention now before you elect this Muslim racist to run this country.

    July 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. marty from Indiana

    It is interesting that Obama hasn't said anything personally about the cover. He has said; "No comment." So those of you who accuse him of whinning.... you should read the news before criticizing Obama for being a whinner. But would you like a picture of yourself on a national magazine cover which is totally wrong or which insults your family? Would you say nothing or would you speak up to defend yourself?

    July 15, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Edna

    The cover might be less offensive if it depicted Rush Limbaugh as the cartoonist! Shame on The New Yorker!

    July 15, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Dina of the Bronx

    If you can't take the heat .... political satire has been around since the time of George Washington. Barack Obama has to prove he is capable of being president by ignoring this drawing (because that's all it is) and continue to concentrate on his political agendas.

    Besides, who reads the New Yorker? Is it even available in middle America? I am sure this cover has brought in a lot more revenue for this week's issue! I know I can't find it at any of my local newspaper stands (which, at any other time, there's always plenty of them for sale).

    Yes, the ignorant will still believe Obama is a Muslim. What scares me the most is that they also are voters! God help us all!

    Obama '08

    July 15, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. Richard

    Funny how the same pundits who were insinuating Obama was actually a Muslim and that Michelle Obama wasn't proud of her country are now outraged by a satirical drawing that parodies those exact positions.

    July 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Aries


    July 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. Bill Tridico

    Some people don't get satire, some do. And the next cover may very well be one with John McCain lip-locked with W; the grim reaper standing nearby, with McCain's version of the Beach Boys music playing in the background....."Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." Surely this will undoubtedly spark hoots and hollers from across the other side of America's great divide, as the US teeters on the brink.

    Perhaps Phil Gramm missed the mark and may well have said, we are in an intellectual recession.

    July 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. Dem 4 Obama, PA

    Mr. Remnick, I "get it", but I don't think you do . The satire is lost as this election has turned into one that showcases Amercia's true feelings regarding race and culture. Satire is only satire when we can look at it and say how ridiculous it is. But, many American BELIEVE that Sen. Obama is a Koran-toting, America-hating, Muslim terrorist impersonating a good-natured average Joe. Many BELIEVE Mrs. Obama is an angry black woman who despises this country and is an undercover Black Panther waiting to pounce on "whitey".

    See, it's not witty when it plays right into the actual beliefs of many people right here in the USA. So, your satire is lost.

    Between this, the "Oreo" comment and the numerous examples of racially charged statements, it's clear that America still has a problem with race. We've never really dealt with the elephant sitting in our living room and now he's tearing up the house! I only hope we can turn all of this around (regardless of the outcome of the election) and use it as another stepping stone to racial healing. We are a country of Black, White, Yellow, Brown and everything in between. We must do better in relating to one another!

    July 15, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. Dee Dee

    There is no justifaction for Hateful Covers that can possibly create more hate among citizens.
    Some will see it in print and believe it more than they will believe the W

    July 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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