Sunday, July 13, 2008

That New Yorker cover of Barack and Michelle Obama:


That's the kind of thing the folks at the New Yorker would do, since they're (on average) economically insulated from hard times and live in places where they don't chafe under restrictive social laws (e.g. abortion). So who cares about amplifying the most outrageous charges made by the far right? Better to be hip than care a whit about the impact on Obama's political fortunes.

The Obama campaign quickly condemned the rendering. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds quickly e-mailed: “We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive.” ...

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post said Sunday on his CNN media show “Reliable Sources” that the cover is arguably “incendiary.” “I talked to the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, who tells me this is a satire, that they are making fun of all the rumors,” Kurtz added.
There are rumors of Joe Lieberman being an agent for Israel. When can we look forward to a cover that makes fun of that?   Is the McCain Manchurian Candidate cover set for next week?

Letter to Sullivan:
Here's what's going to happen. Fox News is going to have a whole day where they talk about nothing but this and repeatedly show the image just like they did with Wright. Then Limbaugh will be saying "Well look, these liberals can make drawing like this and we call it harmless satire, so why did they give me so much grief when I played the song Obama the Magic Negro on my show. It's liberal hypocrisy I tell you!".
Michelle Obama is depicted as an Afro-coiffed blaxiploitation heroine with a rifle, Obama is depicted as a Muslim, an American flag is burning in the Oval Office fireplace and above the fireplace? A portrait of Osama bin Laden.

They should seriously consider pulping the cover, because they are likely to lose a lot of their left-wing readership.

Also, can we expect “ironic” covers with McCain being tortured? Or maybe Bush drinking up a storm? Or perhaps an ironic and anti-Semitic cover of Joe Lieberman? Or would someone on staff have put a stop to that?
Also this:
... no Upper East Side liberal -- no matter how superior they feel their intellect is -- should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing.

"This is as offensive a caricature as any magazine could publish," says a high-profile Obama supporter, "and I suspect that other Obama supporters like me are also thinking about not subscribing to or buying a magazine that trafficks in such trash."

[With this right-wing comment. emp add]

Whatever their original intentions, whatever their motivation, whether ironical or not, this caricature hits the proverbial nail on its proverbial head. No single illustration could more perfectly convey the legitimate -- I repeat, legitimate -- fears and concerns that so many of us have about the prospects of an Obama Presidency. An Islamophile and a racist. What a great prospect for America's future.
UPDATE: Next week's cover has just been leaked. Here it is:
As the New Yorker helpfully explained:
The cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature that believers in Jewish international banking conspiracies have tried to create.
UPDATE 2: From The American Conservative magazine:
Almost everyone except for the people who work at The New Yorker seems to have grasped that, whether intended as satire or not, the effect of the cover image is disastrous for the Obama campaign. The timing might have been worse, but not by much, since Obama is getting ready to go on his trip out of the country. The image is the most complete expression of the inexplicable desire of Obama supporters to “help” the candidate by portraying him in what are actually the most unflattering and politically damaging ways possible while simultaneously believing that they are pre-emptively defending and praising the things they are describing. This cover image is slightly different, in that it is trying to undermine the worst attacks by revealing them to be nonsensical caricatures, but nonetheless the artist seems incapable of imagining that there are many voters, particularly those who don’t know that much about Obama, who will see this image flashed on their television screens or attached to chain e-mails and think, “I knew there was something about that Obama I didn’t like, and now I see what it is!” ...

In an era of instant, mass communication, the image will be, indeed already has been, circulated widely and will gradually lose whatever “ironic” edge it once had. That the image derived from a New Yorker cover and was intended for an audience of high-information, predominantly left-leaning voters who already support Obama will be irrelevant or will add to the “credibility” of what the image conveys. Then the word will go forth in forwarded emails everywhere: “Even The New Yorker thinks Obama is a secret Muslim, etc…”
UPDATE 3: David Remnick, the clueless editor of the New Yorker sez: (emp add)
... people always read things the way they're going to read them. In this case ... some people have misinterpreted it very quickly ...

This cover ... uses the language of political satire and cartooning, not of reporting and essays, and sometimes not everyone likes that or gets what's intended.
UPDATE 4: Some defenders of the cartoon say that it won't change anybody's preference. That is probably correct (at least for the short term, and for a limited number of people), but what it has a good shot at doing fairly well is inhibit people from switching their preference to Obama. That's where it's most potent. Keeping those wavering and still-uncertain-about-Obama, from gravitating towards him.

UPDATE 5: The reason for this post isn't the cartoon per se. It could run on the Weekly Standard and not be as bothersome. The amazing thing here is that the New Yorker is, presumably, on Obama's side. Yet their blinkered outlook allows them to produce something that's definitely going to hurt him politically.

UPDATE 6: If the cartoon wanted to have a chance at being seen as satire, it could have portrayed Michelle and Barack as uncomfortable or out-of-place in their garb. But it doesn't. The facial expressions and body language are those of people that support Black Panther style politics or anti-American Jihadism - to the extent that such things are discernable.

UPDATE 7: Big review and commentary at The Moderate Voice.

UPDATE THE LAST: Atrios: (emp add)
... whatever the merits of the New Yorker it's more "elite chattering classes of New York" than "good liberal." Not quite the same thing, even if there's some overlap. ...

The New Yorker cover could have worked if had made more clear who it was satirizing (Fox news, the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, whatever), or by being clever enough to provide the actual funny. As it is it's just a reflection of the Right's view of Obama, but there's nothing clever or funny about it.


The population at New Yorker surely will decrease when all the culprits are identified and rounded up. Some contributors to the New Yorker with well credentialed reputations may find their future contributions tainted by this cover, sort of guilt by association. Can we expect such contributors to submit articles to the New Yorker critical of this cover or might economic factors prevent such?

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 7/14/2008 3:37 AM  

Liberals are so big on "speaking truth to power", yet when it's one of their sacred cows that comes to power, they are no so big on the power truth-to speaking.

Or did you expect the liberal media to remain in full ass-sucking pucker mode for four years?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2008 5:06 PM  

I can't help but re-imagine (i.e. rip-off and re-write) an old joke:

Q: "How many '08 Progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

A: "One. And that's not funny!!!!"

By Blogger Erick L., at 7/14/2008 5:44 PM  

Though I agree this was a bad misfire, given the New Yorker's long history, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

That said, it is sad to see that any kind of magazine cover take precedence over the merits of the candidates or the issues at stake. Are we really going to give this more air time than we do Sy Hersh's reporting?

We haven't learned anything in the past eight years if we're going to be so easily prodded into hysteria.

Let the right wing have their day. They make such stinks over utter non-issues, when something like this comes along, who can tell the difference? They harp on the fact that "Obama" rhymes with "Osama" for heaven's sake.

Those who have left this petty mindset behind can appreciate the irony. That's why The Colbert Report is so interesting. If a right-wing magazine had printed this cover, we would all be deconstructing it point-by-point, talking about how silly it is. We may as well beat the right to it and render it impotent through irony.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2008 6:24 AM  

it's just a reflection of the Right's view of Obama

But it was drawn and published by Left Wingers, not Right Wingers.

As such, it's a projection of the Left onto the Right. The only way to speak such heresy is to project it onto the enemy.

If it's complete nonsense, then why is it causing such a panic on the left? 8 updates? If it's not based on reality, then why are you freaking out about it?

It isn't the first time that the Left has produced bigoted propaganda and tried to pass it off as some sort of "reflection" of the Right. No Right Wingers were involved in the making of this cartoon. It is a reflection of no one but the people who created and published it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/16/2008 11:35 PM  

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