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.

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soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. 2008 or bust

    Yea, let's stick to the issues. Who cares about character , judgment, or leadership anyway?

    July 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Lee

    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?

    Because he HAS NO MUSLIM BACKGROUD! It's people like you who don't get the NYorker cover, which is why it shouldn't be put out there without a clear explanation of the fact that NONE OF WHAT WAS DEPICTED IS ACTUALLY WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE. Sheesh. Are you people truly dense or do you try to be that ignorant? Surely if you have access to a computer, you can find the truth, so what gives??

    July 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Can we just be American?

    From some of the messages on the blog it appears that the cover is only sending out mix messages plus I have never seen such a derogatory cover for any other Presidential canonicate.... The cover is just wrong. I don't care about his religious background – even though he states he is Christian who cares!!!!!!!! Let stick to the issues such as the economy, war, and domestic issues that we have up the yang, yang.... these types of things are just smoke screens to divert us from the real issues...

    No one is speaking about senile McSame

    July 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Jill



    July 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. Lee

    interesting July 15th, 2008 4:15 pm ET

    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.

    so if YOUR dad was a racist pig, then you........

    July 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Bettybb

    The satire was pretty lame. But given the fact that Obama, his supporters the Obamabots, and his captive media did ran an incredibly sexist campaign against Clinton, he deserves what he is getting.

    July 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Pick Me!! Pick Me!!

    Actually being an Obama supporter I found the cartoon to be just that, a cartoon. Anyone with any minuscule amount of common sense knows that this cover deplicts the far right, misconception on the Obama’s due mostly to those dim-witted e-mails that have been in circulation. (This one is for you my brother-in-law that doesn’t bother to read any news papers or watch any news reports BUT, believes each and everything that is sent via e-mail (erroneous-Mail).

    So, what-ever. You will choose to believe what you want like you did the LAST election and vote accordingly no matter if it is a lie or not.

    God help us all.

    July 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. white trash

    Where do we draw a line between satire and saddism? I found the cartoon disturbing and cruel, cruel and vicious to the Senator and his lady. If this display of satire is supposed to be humorous, the TNY has a sick sense of humor. If the cartoon was intended to send Americans a message, it signalled it would debase itself for a few laughs at the expense and pain of the Obama's.

    Cruelty is cruelty in whatever guise it is displayed. If a higher level of consciousness and high IQ were a great, shining river, then this funny is sheer gutter and the garbage that floats thereof. "Cause No Pain", the first commandment of the gifted mind.

    July 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Obama Supporter from FL

    To Andy:

    No, there is no value. It's only worth reading if (a) you are procrastinating, and (b) you've already exhausted every other site that might be better.

    July 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. SDunn

    to New Voter For McCain:

    Sorry I don't believe you were ever going to vote for Obama. You're the type of voter that falls for the same stupid propaganda every election cycle instead of the real issues. Instead of believing rumors how about doing actual research yourself. No wonder this ignorant electorate voted Bush for 2 consecutive terms.

    July 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. NOBAMA 08

    Go read Podhoretz article on Realclearpolitics.com If his campaign had half a brain...they could have totally spun that cover in his favor...but they are such whinners that they are only putting the spotlight on the fact that he is a humorless idiot! The art of politics is spinning a negative to a positive without the audience knowing! Get a clue! No wait...keep it up:)
    NOBAMA 08

    OBAMA: Change you can believe in...if you don't require experience or logic.

    July 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Tim Hutchins

    You had better think hard about just what you will find AFTER Obama is elected. We know we don't know this man - he has no history except of radical Muslim stuff with Farrakhan and Wright, etc. Michelle hasn't ever been proud of this country. Who in their right mind would vote for this man?

    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Freida, NYC

    To "interesting."

    You are correct! Once you are born a Muslim, you will always be considered a Muslim for life.

    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Monica

    Everyone knows Obama is NOT a muslim. Anyone that is no longer going to vote for Obama because of the ignorance of a magazine cover was never in his corner from the beginning. Don't kid yourself, you were never going to vote for Obama. It's not that people cannot make jokes about Obama, but try to have some integrity as a journalist and as a human being.

    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Frankly, this cover drawing didn't say anything that I found either funny or like satire. I guess that since I don't see the satire or irony in this, I need it explained. Better yet, have the editor explain in nice clear language for everyone so there is no misunderstanding what the artist was trying to say on this; here are all the stereotypes of Obama all rapped up into one? How is that satire?

    To Dems be Dopes, Democrats aren't calling for boycotts of anything other than the New Yorker. There are no threats of violence against the artist. If I were an editor of a publication, then I would be saying that I would not hire him and send him on his way.

    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |

    Nothing but the politics of fear.....shame on the new yorker cover.
    Besides its sad, the kind of people who run the media.

    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Anonymous



    July 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Mike, Syracuse NY

    10% believe the cover is true; 10% hink it's funny, 10% think it's outrageous, and 70% are saying 'huh'? The problem is no one really knows where Obama stands on anything. He has no real record, and he's switched positions on a dozen issues. Will the real Obama please stand up?

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Pete

    Unfortunately, it is the "unspoken rule" concerning this election: Obama is 'off limits'....don't criticize, don't joke about.....normal election year 'give & takes' are not permitted this time around. Which is very sad, because we need to see how someone who purports to be a 'leader' reacts when those around him don't always act like smiling puppets.
    And we know what the difference is this year, but no one even wants to say it, for fear of being accused a 'racist', which is even sadder, because the normal "give & take" of a presidential campaign are hushed this time.
    Forward? this country is taking a giant step backwards when it is afraid to express feelings....

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Nancy of Minnesota

    Is that the right answer, thought police? July 15th, 2008 4:18 pm ET

    So if your father and stepfather were Muslim, you attended a Muslim school, you studied Islam, you practiced Islam, and most of your relatives are Muslim, then of course you have no Muslim background.
    What was I thinking?

    You might want to educate yourself a bit. He never went to a Muslim school or studied Islam (not that there is anything wrong with that). His mother was non-muslim and Obama himself is a Christian (remember Rev. Wright, the church...). His father was a Muslim and then became athiest. Again, might want to educate yourself.

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Patriot

    Missing in the "New Yorker" writers' argument that portrait of the Obamas "is satire", is the fact that a piece of SATIRE CAN FLOP!

    This piece of satire is a flop, if the real intended was to elicit disbelief about the Obamas. The so-called satire is eliciting just the opposite intent!

    People for the most part are either defending the so-called satire or they ARE NOT laughing.

    So the attempt at satire FAILED!
    And if the New Yorker people can't recognize that salient fact, then are only contributing to the disrespect and distrust of the media.

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Larry WI

    Cartoon may be funny and Obama might be making light of it but the fact is the cartoon fringes on reality, no denying that. Obama supporters better wake up and smell the koran.

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Samuel

    Is it true that John McCain spied for the Vietnamese for money? Just curious. Please help.

    Also, is it true that Obama was a vergin when he met Michelle? I am very curious. Anyone help me on this issue?

    July 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |

    Here's my take.

    White people that have no problem with Black people will vote for Obama. White people who are racist will vote for McCain. As time has gone on, Americans have grown to accept people for who they are and not what color they are. Unfortunately, the white people, and some Mexican people, have a problem with black people and their children act out what they see at home; fueling a new generation of bigots and racists.

    Hopefully, having an African American as a President will encourage more AA youth to look at themselves with better confidence. Maybe it will inspire the hispanic community to better themselves as well... maybe.

    July 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Nancy of Minnesota

    And now seriously, I'm no longer proud of our country!!

    July 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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