July 15th, 2008
05:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama: New Yorker cover fueled some misconceptions


Watch part of Obama's interview with Larry King. Catch the full interview with Obama on CNN's Larry King Live tonight, 9 p.m. ET.

(CNN) - Barack Obama on Tuesday called the controversial New Yorker cover that unflatteringly depicts him and his wife an unsuccessful attempt at satire that will likely fuel misconceptions he has long battled over the course of his presidential campaign.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN's Larry King, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate downplayed the impact of the illustration — which depicts him in Muslim attire in the Oval Office, with wife Michelle carrying a machine gun.

iReport.com: Satire or slander? Share your thoughts

"It's a cartoon…and that's why we've got the First Amendment," Obama said. "And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it."

"I've seen and heard worse," he said. "I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment."

The cover, which also depicts a U.S. flag burning in the fireplace and a picture of Osama bin Laden on the wall, drew heavy criticism from both political parties after it first circulated the Internet over the weekend. Both presidential campaigns immediately condemned the magazine, calling the illustration "tasteless and offensive."

Earlier: New Yorker editor defends cover

David Remnick, the longtime editor of the highly-regarded publication, told CNN Monday that he believes the ironic intent of the illustration will be clear to most Americans.

Watch: Journalists debate the New Yorker Cover

In Obama’s wide ranging CNN interview Tuesday - the entirety of which is set to air tonight on Larry King Live at 9 p.m. ET - the Illinois senator seemed to give cautious approval of the government's response to the turmoil surrounding mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Full story

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Margo

    His father was a muslim, so he is too.
    Michel looks not a good person on the news camaras, so I don't believe she is a great person eather. Obama likes to copy Repiblicas past, present ( war continuation, and full support day one, send more tanks , copy style , Ronal Regan, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. and etc.)

    The photo on the New York times said it all!

    McCain is a great man, honest and fair.

    McCain 2008.

    July 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Mike from Westchester

    Tully July 15th, 2008 4:11 pm ET
    The cover just shows what the rest of america thinks. Not everybody is brain washed by obama yet!
    I, for one, refuse to believe that the majority of Americans are as ignorant as you seem to think. Please speak for yourself.

    The Truth That Shall Not Be Spoken July 15th, 2008 4:11 pm ET
    Why we are not permitted to speak of Obama's Muslim background?
    Obama's Muslim background is that his father was Muslim and his stepfather was Muslim, although neither was a fundamentalist, as each married a non-Muslim American. He lived in Indonesia for a few years with his stepfather. He never adopted the Muslim religion. End of story. If you tell the truth, it is certainly okay to talk about his Muslim background. And, oh, by the way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Islam is not our enemy!

    July 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Lora

    Right on Joan. Slander & unfair. Let's see McCain in a cartoon in Bush's pocket. What a mess we are in with his presidency. Do we really want more of the same? McCain supporters are afraid...afraid of change & change is what we need.

    July 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Disgusted Kathy

    New voter for McCain – you are stupid.

    July 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. H-ROD


    July 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Jan

    Just loved it. Their true colors for sure. Those who trust him and his wife should start to remember how many people loved Bush. Look where he has gotten us. This country is already in a huge mess with no relief in sight. It is only going to get worse. You vote obama in and it will only get worse.

    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Wolf

    The only way to address this for Obama is to provide where he was before Trinity – what he was doing and what faith or faiths he was practicing...including his time in Indonesia which he now refers to as foreign policy experience. Then there would be no chance of 'misperceptions' as he puts it. Until then, he was born a Muslim with verified reports of him as a practicing Muslim, so what could be misperceived?

    It is relevant because it goes to the honesty of the presumptive nominee. We know for sure he his not to be trusted on his words from the nomination process, we can now only figure we cannot trust him words on various levels. Really, when was the last time a nomination candidate threw under the bus his Church, Pastor and close family friends all for political gain? Never, because there was never so much to hide!

    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Anne

    I couldn't agree with you more Joan. Well said.

    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. D&D

    TO: New Voter for McCain July 15th, 2008 4:04 pm ET

    Am I missing something here?
    It's people like you who get to the voting center and still don't know why they are voting and who they are voting for!
    Educate yourself before it's too late, otherwise, you may never have a firm position on anything in your life!

    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Michael

    I had long ago posted on this website and others that as we came closer to the general election that the insinuations, accusations, rumors and just flat out blatant fabrications of Obama would come raining down upon us.
    Many seemed to think that Obama was being given a free ride and everyone was being too nice to him.
    So far, we have been pummelled with garbage about his church, his soul, his wife, his skin color, his patriotism, his faith and now we are fed this New Yorker cover that has a little bit of all of it.
    Whats next...showing Obama clubbing baby seals?
    I long for the days of rationality and enlightened debate and exchange of discussion about the candidates positions.
    We seem to have far too many bottom feeders who are once again surfacing in time for the election.

    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. thomas cummins

    this is not satire.

    to be so would require that those who think the cartoon is a true view of the Obama's be included to show the object of their misconceptions.

    as a result, this cartoon is simply an inaccurate caricature of Mr & Mrs O, perpetuating ignorant beliefs, with none of the saving grace 'satire' might have supplied.

    i've loved the New Yorker's cartoons thruout my life. this one missed its intnet, and they should acknowledge the harm it does by being such.


    July 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Believer

    Obama's father is Kenyan and was a muslim. Under islamic law, he is recognized as a muslim as he would take the religion of his father. Obama's step father was a muslim.

    Obama claims he is a Christian for 20 years, that means he would be considered an "apostate" muslim.

    If you are a muslim by birth, and then another type of muslim, guess what kids, you are a muslim.

    You are no more born a muslim than you are born a christian. Apostate or otherwise, Christianity and Islam is NOT a birthright, it is a choice. This has nothing to do with your DNA.

    July 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. bob in L.A.

    The cover of magazine- is in bad taste. The flap over it – is absurd.
    We all get it- ti should not have made it on to the newsstands. Next.

    July 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Brad - California

    "David Remnick, the longtime editor of the highly-regarded publication..."

    Highly regarded? You're kidding, right? Mr. Remnick will do anything to boost sales of an already failing magazine. I see no satire in this, but then again I have never wasted a penny to buy this rag.

    July 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Logic Man

    I get such a charge out of these Obamaphobes. Clearly, they are the 70% of the U.S. that believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

    Abraham Lincoln was right – "...You can fool some of the people all of the time.."

    Just read some of the drivel above. After fussing about Jeremiah Wright being a terrible influence on Obama for 20 years – IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH – they now believe Obama is a Muslim. Do these people really look at what they write and still believe it? Amazing.

    July 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. adm


    Everyday I read your comments on different articles. After reading your comments, I say to myself that you are ignorant. When are you going to say something that won't have me call you ignorant? I am tired of saying that to myself. Why don't say something thought-provoking for once.

    July 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    "It's a cartoon…and that's why we've got the First Amendment," Obama said."

    "I've seen and heard worse," he said. "I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment."

    please tell me how obama's remarks are "playing the victim"?? umm, hullo, can you say TRANSFERENCE?!?!?

    July 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. Us liberals

    Once again the we liberals have given the average American too much credit...

    Not all Americans are smart enough to understand that the New Yorker cover was meant to be satirical – too many Americans are too ignorant to even know what satire IS!

    And Fixed News has seen to it that such misconceptions about Obama persist!

    It's very frustrating – what does this poor guy (Obama) have to do? In his insistence that he's a Christian he's managed to alienate American Muslims...

    It's truly shameful...

    The MSM like to call those who persist in believing such lies 'low information voters' - what a euphemism! They're just DUMB – and no amount of correction or showing them how absurd their views are will change anything...

    See why it's in EVERYONE'S interests to fund high quality public education in this country? No? Oh yeah, that's right! If people were smart they wouldn't be able to vote Republican!!!


    July 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Brad

    In my opinion, Sen. Obama has more flip-flops than a shoe store on the boardwalk.

    July 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Freida, NYC

    Joe PA,

    The internet is the problem! Most of the info you get from the internet is often inaccurate making it impossible to draw any kind of reasonable conclusion, better yet to get to know a presidential candidate. Having said that, then my position remains the same... I do not know Barack well enough to trust him with our country.

    July 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Kim, Sacramento

    Bravo, New Yorker! Great job. No wonder your magazine is reknowned for its interesting, provocative, and humorous satire.

    July 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Ebie

    I'm afraid the fact that so many GOP-leaning commenters obviously believe Obama actually *IS* a Muslim who hates this country proves that the New Yorker cover was not successful satire.

    Too bad about our collective IQ and sense of humor, but that's the way the cookie crumbles...

    July 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Sean

    I like people who can laugh at themselves too....but that would require something funny being available to laugh at in the first place. A ridiculous percentage of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim (as if that would somehow be inherently bad), or that he's unpatriotic, or that Michelle Obama is some kind of extremist....

    For all of those saying Obama needs a sense of humor – can you point out what exactly is funny about this New Yorker cover? Isn't satire supposed to be humorous? This is nothing but a depiction of what a large number of ignorant people actually believe Obama is, despite the fact that he's not. Is that funny? Personally, I find it alarming and sad.

    July 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Martin Hussein Goldstone

    As a mid-western jew voting for the first time it hurts my head to read some of the right wing moronic postings on this blog site..I support Obama because he has inspired me like nobody running for office has done before. Not even my local congressman who campaigned in my backyard inspired such fervor and devotion from his followers. Obama focuses on the issues that are important to our future and leaves the fluff to his rivals to mull over....I think CNN should screen these postings to weed out fools who have no modicum of common sense.

    If not for anything to weed out bad grammar


    July 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Uncle Sam

    To answer the question from the previous poster: It's OK with John McCain to remove troops from Iraq when we've won. Which, thanks to the surge upon which he risked his presidential campaign, is currently happening. The same surge which Barack Obama prdeicted would fail.

    July 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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