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. Jennifer - American in Canada

    If you don't get it then Satire doesn't work. The real problem here is that Sen Obama is relatively new and often viewed with suspicion by some voters. If this cover was of someone who was better known in the political sphere then we wouldn't be having this discussion. IT IS A BIG DEAL if Sen Obama is constantly distracted with questions dealing with "Who he is". It's a distraction that he cannot afford and keeps him off the more important issues......Jobs, foreclosures, the war in Iraq, and Health Care.

    July 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Big Al

    Out of over 50 yrs of living, i've come to the conclusion that this country is still sick in the head over race, a word none of us can help what color we are. it was not like we were in our mother's stomach and said well i guess i will be this color. America is so Stupid with hatred we will never come together until we get over this foolishness. Im like this im a caucasian man and we have had over 40 some caucasian presidents what have they done at least give 1 african american a chance. we are probably scared he would do a better job than anyone else....

    July 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Herman in LA

    Your paper is tasteless and I have canceled my membership... We don't need this kind of satire about none of our political candidates not Obama or McCain...

    July 15, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. RM

    Nothing new in those objections to the Obama artwork, merely political correctness running amok, as usual. But like one blogger correctly stated; that cover would be a lot more appropriate to goofy Mad magazine than the self-important New Yorker mahhgahhzine, dahling.

    July 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. bernj

    Cheap mag. That is what the New Yorker is now. Just another cheap mag.

    July 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. tim

    I would like to see a cover with the truth not this crap.
    Show Obama taking Government money and political shakedown
    money his whole career–never having any real job or
    business venture–and then giving lectures on the economy and

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Sophie Brown

    If they wanted to attack misconceptions, perhaps they should have drawn a thought bubble coming from a redneck's head, since it is those types of people who still believe this garbage. That being said, however, the editor should have realized that most Americans are not as bright as one would hope, and that they would take this image literally, which would damage Obama's standing.

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Jackie from Minneapolis

    Most people aren't that smart. They will look at the cover and take away their own impressions. This country is still very racist and will likely always will be. I am completely losing faith in human kind. All we do is add oil to the already burning fires of hatred. Clinton supporters are now saying that is a part of the job. Well, they weren't saying that when HRC and her supporters was feeling attracted. That is the problem with people, they never seem to be able to put themselves in someone else's shoes. It's all very sad. If McCain gets into office, they will be be whining too, because this country will never get on track. As a black woman who helps alot people in my community, it breaks my heart that I would be attacked just for being black in this country. The people and media would twist everything that I am about to make me look like a terrorist. I am good person and I always try and do the right thing even when it would be easy to do the wrong, but people in this country would still try to distroy me if I were in that position.

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. jackie ohio

    You jnow if it had been Hillary or Mccain then all the Obama people would be jumping on the band parade to have fun with it. But It is Obama and he is Black/white so the black need to cry over missrep. Call out the raciest card. i am sick and tiered of this whinning from Obama. I remimber some harsh cartoons of actual Presidents George Bush 1 and 2 Clinton Bill ect... You put yourself in the puplic eye now deal with the worst part of it. Or just say CLEAN UP YOUR ACT HA JUST KIDING MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! obama needs to clear up his owen act and let the american people know what and who he is. I am a democrat but I have not been sold on Obama. If he wants to win the pres. the Hillary needs to be on the ticket.

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. sbcain

    For once, instead of the media setting the tone of morals and decency in America, the public and politicians have all agreed this was cover inappropriate. However, it looks as if David Remnick can't accept that someone else besides him and the media should have a say in what is decent. Admit it Remnick, you Fudged this up! Swallow your pride, take your public spanking and go away.

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. Oh! The Irony

    MoniLuv July 14th, 2008 6:22 pm ET

    Obama needs to lighten up. If he's smart as people made him out to be he'd realize that the cover is actually meant to help him and portrays him as a victim of fear-mongering by the Republicans.


    I think Obama and the rest of the American population with half-a-brain understands the intent - satire. The problem is the less aware American, who will see that cover and use it as a means of solidifying their belief in the rumors. The cover may have been well-intended, but it was inappropriate. Understand?

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  12. Scott, Wichita

    so, 26% of Americans think Obama is Muslim, eh?

    Well, I'm part of the "Fascist, warmongering" center-leaning-right-Americans, and I have yet to meet someone who thinks he's a Muslim from the conservatives. They must all be the left-wingers

    July 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. CJ/PA

    What does intelligence have to do with it?? Could it be snobbery and "elitism" instead? Let me see - Obama dressed in Muslim garb, Michelle carrying an AK-47, a picture of Osama above the fireplace with our beloved flag burning in the fireplace - oh, wait a minute - yes, satire. I forgot!! Rubbish is right. It should be pulled from the shelves right now and the Editor of The New Yorker owes the Obama's an apology for "satire gone wrong." This, indeed, plays right into the hands of the Rush Limbaugh followers of the world, as well as many others who already have preconceived and erroneous notions about the Obama's. It is NOT funny OR satiracal. Shame.

    July 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. lenny

    most americans think that this it true and I am one of them

    July 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. ChrisNY

    Love it. This is the freedom our soldiers are dying for people. Appreciate it and take it for what it is. Any intelligent person will walk away from these images with a smirk.

    July 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. effero

    Wolf Blitzer has to be one of the worst interviewers in history. Ask the question and let him respond, then ask another. Simple format Wolf ... learn.

    July 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. WoMaN4McCain

    Comments like the one from BROOKLYN shows the ignorance of American people and why stuff like this is a bad idea.

    And Ginger and Theresa from Minneapolis hit the nail on the head.

    July 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Satire is generally directed at an individual or an identifiable group. This cover is intended to satirize a mindset or an attitude or a mental willingness to believe or promote the craziest, most absurd things about the Obamas.

    The problem is the cover does that through an illustration, not of those who have that attitude or mindset, but of the Obamas themselves.

    Imagine instead a cover of some slob in his underwear, sitting in a dark, seedy room that's adorned with posters of crazy things like the New Yorker cover along with other symbols of right-wing paranoia. That would identify the object of the satire in a way the current cover does not.

    July 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. Kris Hussain from AZ

    the cover seems alittle extreme. The article is probably a good artical but poor call on the cover.

    July 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. Barrie Hunter

    As if the press in this country isn't bad enough, now this. I once had some respect for the New Yorker but not anymore. I've just cancelled my company's subscription.

    July 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. stuart_zechman

    If I had wanted to draw a cartoon that more accurately portrays Obama and his wife, I would have drawn the same cartoon the New Yorker did but have the pair of them surrounded by Kos Kids and Obamabots on their hands and knees worshiping them.

    CNN will be too chicken to post this heresy against The Chosen One!

    July 15, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. Maria D.

    The reaction from the Obama camp reminds me of how during the lead up to the Iraq war, anyone who said anything against it was labeled as unpatriotic. What is even worse about the Obama campaign is that they are actually critical of what was meant to be a pro-Obama message – This is what really scares people about the Obama movement – the desire to control the propoganda about their campaign and how their candidate is being portrayed – seems like if Obama wins, we may have a thought police . . . And by the way – where is the outrage at sellers of Hillary Clinton "nut crackers" (you can crack nuts between the legs of a Hillary nut cracker) – or is that satire???? Who decides – Obama ???? Think about who he might put on the Supreme Court if he had so little tolerance for political satire gone a little astray – Do we want him in charge of those who rule on our free speech rights? What if someone tries to criticise him if he wins – This is what scares people!!!

    July 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Dan J

    Obama is playing the victim card. Plain and simple. He knows the cover is actually helping him, he just wants to bring it to attention. New Yorker was supporting Obama, and he's pushing his own "fear the politics of fear" slant. He whines and complains, and all these signs of weakness are not good for a potential President.

    Plus, I don't understand why the whole Muslum dress offended him. I mean, he did dress like that in photos, he promotes diversity and religious acceptance, yet he is offended when he is portrayed as Muslim. Who cares? He say we're beyond that stuff, yet it still "offends" him. He's having his cake and eating it, too.

    July 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. Gustav James

    The New Yorker cover is much worse than any false rumors I have heard about the Obamas. The cover depicts a United States presidential candidate and his wife as ENEMIES OF THE STATE. I haven't heard that rumor prior to now.

    Gustav James

    July 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. Rick

    I think the cover is hilarious. I'd buy a copy but they are sold out everywhere.

    July 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22