July 14th, 2008
02:42 PM ET

New Yorker cartoon: Satire is the message

Steve Turnham
AC360° Producer

You can search all you like for context to the suddenly infamous New Yorker cover in the pages of the magazine, but there's no point.

New Yorker covers are generally stand-alone commentaries, unconnected to the content of the magazine. The big story on Obama this week is about his rise in Chicago politics. There's a short piece too, about his move to the center. Neither refers to the misconceptions about his faith.

The New Yorker covers are often funny, sometimes sublime (the all-black memorial to the twin towers stands out), and occasionally off key.

Depending on how you see it, the Obama cover is either a brave attempt to force readers to confront the mistruths about the candidate, or an ill-conceived and offensive attack. Or both.

Beat 360°

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. Ann

    I'm a seventy year old southern white woman from North Carolina, and a life long Democrat. Political satire is the form of comedy I've always loved and appreciated. I consider myself intellegent and usually pick up even on subtle satire. However, I didn't get this and it offended me. It 's the exact same as crying out "Fire" in a crowded theater. When I heard Clinton's most ardent supporter, James Carvell, so exuberantly defending the New Yorker cover, it occurred to me that to have this cover in full view on news stands and, for months to come, lying around doctors offices for the common masses to see has made the Clintons very happy indeed.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:14 am |
  2. Elijah

    I am a very liberal minded person, but this cover is inappropriate at such a time. To me, i might not take it seriously but some else might not.

    I dont know how many times Sen. Obama has had to explain his religion and this is not taken well by the moslem Americans! It sounds like America is for Christians!!

    Having Osamas picture on the wall of the oval office and the burning of the flag is supposed to portray the Obamas as anti america, something which not every american would take lightly.

    Having Michelle with an Afro, and an SMG would portray a black American dealing with guns, and all sorts of crimes seen in the black communities!

    So one would see the cartoon as Anti Black (racist) and anti moslem! Sen. Mcain must be the happiest man at the moment as this would win him new supporters, the new yorker of course will have BIG money since many have bought the magazine, and Sen. Obama goes back to Illinois! American moslems will remain aliens in their country, and the Racism will continue!

    July 15, 2008 at 9:14 am |
  3. Jenny

    I dont care if you're Democrat, Republican, black or white... you should be offended by this "satirist" cartoon. There is no witty caption to explain it as being satire and you know millions of people are gonna take a glance at this cover at their local newsstands and start to cement their beliefs that Obama is a terrorist and a Muslim, neither of which are true. There are thousands of reporters out there trying to dig up dirt on Obama every day and if evidence existed of Obama being a Muslim or a terrorist it would have surfaced. Imagine if Senator John McCain and his wife were on the cover depicted in Klan hoods? Are you serious???!!! I will never read the New Yorker again and Im sure many Americans will follow suit. Im just so amazed and disgusted....

    July 15, 2008 at 8:22 am |
  4. Don WIgal

    I haven't yet heard a commentator mention that the title of the provocative New Yorker cartoon is "The Politics of Hate."

    July 15, 2008 at 6:22 am |
  5. J.V.hodgson

    Ok Media if you must justify it as satire and freedom of the press.
    Then you have to construct a similar page about Mccain and Cindy.
    Sorry, I cannot find any reaonable argument for linking Michelle especially or Obama himself in any way satirical or otherwise to Osama bin Laden, or the cardinal sin of flag burning, for either of them.
    Satire has its place but it is not on the front page of a major magazine and obviosly relative to a Presidential election. Even his opponent condemned it as improper.
    On that basis all media stop the conversation, discussion. There is not a conversation to be had other than Time screwed up!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:35 am |
  6. Frank in Illinois

    This cover has done great things for The Obama campaign. It has created so much publicity and is actually so outrageous, it truly creates a separation between rumor and truth. I would prefer to believe, as a society, we are intelligent enough to see this.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:30 am |
  7. Mason

    I say get over it... I don't believe he is muslim but if he is offended by this...just wait. Cause IF he was to be elected to president the gloves come off... for example i can easily find similar depictions of Bush. The thing I am offended by is the coverage by the Press of such a waist of time. Its as if the Press is saying .... How dare anyone make fun of him or even say anything bad about him.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:26 am |
  8. Heidi DeYoung

    Tempest in a teapot. Good for ratings.

    It's funny that any network could get pundits pontificating about it.

    Come on people. Look back at the history of historical cartoons. Please don't tell me we live in an age where people need to be so protected from satire. That's stupid. Making it a big issue is stupid, and the people who don't get it are ...well, at least uninformed.

    Like so many issues mainstream media has the tendency to latch on to, it is much ado about nothing. The last thing people in this country need to concern themselves with is the legitimacy/intent of any one political cartoon.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:52 am |

    This cartoon by NewYorker is the worst thing I have ever seen in my four years in this Country.
    The people who did this cartoon should hide thier heads in shame.
    How many of those people defending the cartoon will stand when they see thier wife in the cover of a magazine holding a rifle and an American flag burning at the background?.
    This is no satire or whatever they choose to call it; It is racism at it`s worst.
    How Americans have had thier wife on a cover of any magazine the way this racists placed Mrs Obama?
    IT IS A SHAME THAT THE 1960S ARE TRYING TO COME BACK AGAIN.This election will come and go but this cartoon will not. Atleast not for African Americans.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:45 am |
  10. Lee-Kelley

    I was taught that you will know a tree by the fruit that it bares. Whether it is a hangman's noose that is called a prank or, racist caricatures which are referred to as satire, America's ignorance is expose to the world. THIS WAS NOT A MISTAKE, nor is it humorous. THIS WAS INTENTIONAL, and it is sick! You can dress a frog, and call it a prince but, you will be the only one deceived, and ending up with warts. America's shame is dressed as satires/pranks. When will we admit wrong? James Carvelle's response was to praise the publisher, and to say that "people will believe what they want to believe."I believe as Bill Bennett has stated:"We are responsible to teach/tell truth," and not to make excuses for (the New Yorker's cover) lies which promote destruction/discord. The fruit on this sort of tree is poisonous, and they that eat of it treasure death, and hate life.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:42 am |
  11. Dan Golden

    Since 2001, President Bush has been portrayed in editorial cartoons and on magazine covers as a war-monger, a know-nothing, and a dangerous, gun-totin' cowboy. A widely distributed comic strip has enshrined our commander-in-chief as an empty Roman helmet who spouts ignorant blather, all this during war time.
    It's amusing to see the rising indignation when the same irreverent brush paints a satirical portrait of the latest political-celebrity-icon. Golly! Good thing the New Yorker isn't published in Denmark.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:42 am |
  12. Elvis Presley

    I feel so sorry for Mr. Obama. He can't defend himself or his family for fear that white america will not vote for him. It's really sad. If he made a comment about a white woman he would be sure to lose, because white america would make sure of it. I am black and I am getting pretty fed up with all this racism. I am also starting to hate this country.
    I'm sick of white people thinking that they have the right to slander this man and openly abuse his wife and children. If white people think that young BLACK America is going to keep putting up with this they are gravely mistaken. You are making enemies. be warned.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:28 am |
  13. lampe

    Have all of you people forgotten what happened in New York CITY on 9 11 ? Now I'm not saying one way or another If I believe Obama's a Muslim. But, I am not so sure I want to take a chance on the unknown. Black people are just as bad, about putting fear in the blogs. Tonight on Anderson 360 a black man made the remark that if Obama's not elected POTUS, the young black people will be roiting in the streets. Now if thats not fear-mongering, how about telling me what is.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:26 am |
  14. JayNVa

    I admire Obama because with ALL the barbs he has had, he remains cool and collected. A man who shows his composure MUST be admired.
    If he can handle the firestorms in the USA, I am sure he can deal with the countries the buttholes call threats.

    Americans are so cut throat if things do go their way.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:20 am |
  15. Ted in Pueblo, CO

    The New Yorker powers-that-be “hoisted themselves on their own petards.” Don’t know what that means? The “intended communication” is then lost. That will probably be the direct result of the “picture that is worth a whole lot more than a mere thousand words.” Flag burning? Michelle looking like revolutionary Angela Davis? Obama dressed as a fundamental Muslim? The graphic images will be prominently displayed “everywhere”—and will burn themselves into observers’ emotional brain centers, very well clouding reasoned thinking at a time we need it the worst. The only thing they’ve left out here is an insult to Allah or Mohammed. We already know what reactionary effects that can have.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:06 am |
  16. Marcie

    I see racism is alive and well in our SUPER POWER , disgusting;. Bet you it's those baby boomers who are creating all this havov. Our new generation are much more loving; and accepting. Are we not supposed to love one another? SURE WE ARE , but only when its convenient,. So glad I am Canadian , and who cares about Anjolini ( or whatever her name is} Mothers have been giving life since the beginning of time, who cares about Agolina ,its a natural process. Please GOOD OLD USA give us a BREAK. Lighten up and don't keep your mind on WAR


    July 15, 2008 at 2:05 am |
  17. lampe

    Why is it that anything bad that is said about Obama, only comes from racists? 90 to 95% of Blacks voted for Obama, not because of what he stands, but because he is Black. If White women who supported Sen. Clinton, because that thought that she was not only the better person to be in The White House, decide not to support Obama then they to are racist. Black people you can not have it both ways. Let Obama be a man, stop acting like he's a baby. I do not always like what I see and hear in videos or on 106 and Park. But, I don't write them nasty e-mails, I just change the channel.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  18. Matt

    Oh! Come on ! Michelle doesn't have a "Afro" ! She doesn't wear "Boots" and I've never seen Her with a MachineGun ! Obama's head isn't really that "Big" ! It's simply a "Cartoon "! I think the Artist who did that drawing is a Great Artist and The New Yorker should be Proud of Him/Her ! Grow up America and get serious about the real Issues !

    July 15, 2008 at 1:42 am |
  19. Chris Walker

    After watching James Carville comment on the New Yorker cover it has occurred to me that he like most Democratic s who CLAIM to support the African American cause are just as racist, insensitive and narrow minded as most of their Republican counterparts. I would hope that one day the Democratic or Republican party changes, so we can not only hear a new voice in Washington, but hear from new representatives to those parties. Anderson, when it comes to comments about Senator Obama, please do not waste our time getting comments from Hillary Clinton Drone James "My candidate didn't win so I will travel to many shows and criticize the Democratic nominee, so that maybe my girl can get another shot " Carville. The fact is...this man has had a Clinton agenda for over four presidential elections and most of us Americans that are NOT Clinton lovers are tired of him. Unlike his wife who will support any Republican candidate (they do a better job paying off their spokespeople) Mr. Carville has shown his fraudulent hand..... Money well spent President Clinton.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:39 am |
  20. Ashley

    As a young American, I am appalled by such tastelessness. Satire? Don’t you mean propaganda? This cover is wrong on so many levels. I am thoroughly disappointed in the judgment of the New York Times. Honestly, I am disappointed that America is still dealing with such primitive issues.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  21. jim

    The New Yorker front cover is "right on". Wake up America. This hit's the nail right on the head and I'm sure this expresses the sentiments of many Americans even those who are afraid to publicly admit it.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:25 am |
  22. GAIL Centre,Al;

    I think it's about time Obama is dished out some of the same Hillary had to deal with. the cover of the magazine is the vision of them I've had for months. WILL NEVER vote for Obama.If the democrates better wake up before it's to late, and realize they have the wrong candidate. Bring it on at the convention.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:25 am |
  23. Jane Capps

    This was a very pitiful attempt at media advertizing a magazine. Come on New Yorker, you are an outstanding magazine, you do not have to lower your standards just to get attention. This is like a child throwing a tantrum. You can do better than this.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:24 am |
  24. george {not bush}

    haha, satire?? opposite?? maybe or maybe not....if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then its probably a duck!!! my point is he does not support american troops with vigor , wants to chat with enemy to reason , wife made comment which was taken for not the red white and blue of a possible first lady......I guarantee the muslims would take him in as one of thier own so maybe obama bin laden, i mean senator obama needs to clearly seperate himself ,over and over if neccessary from any mis understandings to the bitter americans who cling to the second amendment and middle class americans!!,haha

    July 15, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  25. kristin

    ok so once again the media gets a hold of things and the wrong message is put out there.

    as for me i know so little of obama that i believed he was a muslim., besides isnt he middle name hussain? why is there so much hype about him being muslim if there aren't some reasons to belive it..

    either way muslim or not... this is the way that america is headed, putting things on people that no one knows. we form our oppinion from the media and the have painted the picture pretty clear.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:18 am |
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