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. Lee

    At the risk of repeating something that's been previously stated, I'd just like to say bravo to the New Yorker. No one outside of New York (except maybe Washington) has ever mentioned this magazine on air while I've watched, unless mentioning the background of a guest pundit. Now EVERYONE is talking about this magazine. The irony is that they have gained this noteriety at the expense of the candidate that THEY support hands down. Personally, I think it was a terrible, terribley cheap publicity. Obama is a politician, he's all the good and all the bad things that make up what a politician was. But I submit that if they thought this satire was so necessary, than put it IN their magazine not on the cover. Two thumbs down.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  2. Gabriel

    Satire as a high-minded form of entertainment, requires a level of sophistication that is devoid in those who would believe the lies in the first place. The message got lost to those who needed it most! The Republicans rely on such unsophistication in the minds of the poor and uneducated in hopes of using them to eek out such ill-gotten gains come election time. Very sad!

    July 15, 2008 at 1:13 am |
  3. vianney

    If New-Yorker loved this country, they would not depic a burning American flag. This act means they are the one who support they hatred against America all over the world.
    people we are better than that, let's stop this crap!!!!
    Sen Obama is an American child just like most of us. you can't possibly think that he would betray this country.
    Deep down, we all know new-yorker's intentions were not benign to the american good interest. People behind this shamefull exposure were purely motivated by racism period.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:12 am |
  4. Shannon Toronto, Canada

    Ummm... Were any Americans awake when Obama had to deal with the backlash of Reverend Wright's comments? Why does Obama have to deal with more accusations of being Muslim even though he has made it clear that Jesus Christ is his Saviour?

    Do any Americans care about how dependent America is on foreign oil? Or even the outsourcing of jobs to other parts of the world? Maybe the joke that you call a health care system? Does anyone want to discuss how either McCain or Obama are going to fix or attempt at fixing the mess that you call the "War on Terror"? Or are these issues not as important?????

    July 15, 2008 at 12:50 am |
  5. oross

    I understand the offensive the cover is but this goes to show.
    No matter what Obama says – there will always be hatters, people that think him to be muslim and Michele a militant black woman.

    That is how white society (some of white society will see this candidate). All I can say and pray for is that he (Obama) be true to his message of change.

    Dont try to tap dance to every tune. Stand on the facts and the merit of your mission. People will believe what they want, no matter how the truth is portrayed to them .

    They will be ignorant because they chose to be ignorant !

    Michelle does strike me as a strong Black Women – but the picture below we all know totally exaggerates the issue and brings it over the top. She also should not stop being or change who she is. Her Essence is needed and what is liked.
    Be Bold , Be beautiful, be your Black and be your self

    Its up to the individual , who is savvy enough to draw the line between fiction and reality.


    July 15, 2008 at 12:11 am |
  6. lpm

    Get ready America, some people are going to be off limits Why?

    July 15, 2008 at 12:09 am |
  7. Rev. Greg Powell

    Regarding the cover of the July 21st issue of the New Yorker featuring a satirical cartoon of Barack Obama in Islamic garb in front of a picture of Osama ben Ladin and Ms. Michelle Obama carrying a machine gun, the thing that I find most offensive and expressive of an insidious racism that sabotages its satirical intent is this: effective satire targets the perpetrator(s) of the wrong hearted and destructive perspective it purports to subvert, not their victims. To illustrate, without comment, and mass produce through media imagery the vicious lies regarding Mr. and Ms. Obama's patriotism, character, and basic human decency under the guise of "satire" is to buttress the very wrong hearted arguments, falsehoods and (disturbingly violent) points of views it purports to be lampooning. The Obama's are the victims of this imagery, not the perpetrators, and ought to be given the same human consideration and compassion that great satire achieves. By the way, are you now planning a "satirical" cover regarding the other presidential candidate who makes jokes about mass murder?

    July 15, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  8. Ed

    What a raw insult to a presidential candidate, to be aligned with the responsible entity that took so many lives in New York and abroad. Satire? The deaths of our American citizens must fall litely on there conscious to depict Obama and his wife in such giddy satire. How would the jewish community feel if the holocaust was used in this manner.

    July 15, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  9. Randy

    Where was all this rage and disgust when George W. Bush was "satired" as Hitler, or other mean and vicious characters? And what about Dick Cheney portrayed as some evil madman?! Or, Condi Rice as a "house slave?!!!

    Most of these same people were probably saying, "RIGHT ON!" to that kind of cartoon.

    If it is not right, it ashould not be right no matter who is the target.

    July 15, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  10. Loraine Dunn

    My first response to the New Yorker cover was "huh?" The brouhaha is unfortunate. People who do not know that the ideas depicted are false are unlikely to know the magazine exists let along read it. The fuss may get their attention though.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  11. CS

    I love the cover! It shows what people believe about the unknown & inexperienced Obama. We already know his wife wasn't proud of America until her husband starting running for president!

    He doesn't want us to know much about him – he doesn't talk about his "white" part of his heritage – just why is he not proud of his whiteness????????????????????????? In fact he isn't a "black" person running for president – he is a person who has mixed races in him – just like millions of us. In fact – isn't he mulatto or a biracial?

    Obama reminds me of car salespeople and attorneys – they tell you want you want to hear – only to say & do something different to the next person they speak with.

    I just pray he does not get elected! Keep the covers coming!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Betty

    It certainly is not a satire as the Editor would want us to believe.
    It is long coming, pre-meditated and well targeted. However, it is
    not getting the high marks the writer/s thought it was going to generate. It has misfired and instead boomeranged. Good for them!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  13. big mack

    The New Yorker is a LIBERAL magazine!!! You people need to do your homework also. It's not ok to rip Obama, but it is ok to rip McCain
    about his age. " White mans greed grows a nation in need", does this sound familiar!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  14. AJ

    Are we Americans or Idiots? We are so full of ourselves that we think it is okay to say or do anything as long as it doesn't affect us. Call it satire or call it "crap," either way this magazine does not care about the Obamas, the McCains, you, or me. All they care about is selling mags and making money. We are talking about this cover and causing attention to their publication. So they are being noticed and selling magazines. In the meantime, gas and food prices are extremely high. Our planet is in danger, our children are in danger, and our soldiers are fighting in a war.

    Let's get focused! Let"s talk about something that really matters; let's talk about how to get Americans thinking about how to take care of America and our wonderful freedoms we enjoy.

    We are too easily distracted. The New Yorker and many other "tainted" media moguls want us to be focused on things that just do NOT matter.

    Let's learn to love one another!!!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  15. Rosa Cunningham

    This is Outrageous! I personally do not think the cover is Satire at all! If The NewYorker say its "Satire" then they should have explained it on the cover. I also think this cover is rascist because Michelle Obama does not have an afro but on the cover she is given an afro.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  16. A Girl from SC

    Maybe the truth hurts.
    It's the question of whether his Father was a Muslim.
    How will that effect the Muslims in Iraq or in any middle east county.

    Why not discuss his dad?

    What is the name of the school he attended? Does he have the correct legal papers to run for President.

    Much truth is said in jest.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  17. Victoria Ume

    The New Yorker has been against Obama right from the beginning.
    Maybe, people are just starting to notice. My only regret is that this magazine is published in our highly diversified and democratic city.
    You see, these smearers are so frustrated with Obama's incredible
    abilities that they would do anything to bring him down. Anybody
    in America who to date claims he or she does not know who Obama is, is to say the least blind, biased and, of course, racist. How can one be so ignorant? How else is he going to convince these low heads? Unfortunately, Obama is not the type to bribe anyone. Why don't they just demand his blood? It is a real shame that America is
    still behind other civilized nations with regard to education and inter-human relations in this twenty-first century. When will the prejudice and blackmail stop?

    July 14, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  18. Cole I

    I don’t even have a college degree (yet) and I got it. To claim that the average american won’t get it underestimates the intellegence of the general populous. The cover is way too over the top to be taken seriously. The smear campaigns against Obama range from malicious to just plan stupid. All it takes is a look at Snopes.com and FactCheck.org to see the extent that these myths have traveled. The New Yorker’s goal was to get out there the absurd nature of what the smear emails have been presenting, and to get people talking about them. Saddly, the concequences of this goal have proven more negitive than positive.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  19. Serge

    I think the cover of The New-Yorker is tasteless & stupid - I can already see people who are either racists peddle this cover with no context all over the Web.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:26 pm |
  20. mercy

    obama is a muslim . baraka in arabic they say is called blessing hussein obama. i believe he is a muslim

    July 14, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  21. EJ (USA)

    Cut off Racism at the head—boycott THE NEW YORKER magazine!

    I wouldn't do that. This might even jump start their sales. I had actually forgotten about the New Yorker.

    Although I agree the cover fuels the ignorance of those people who already believe certain things about the Obamas, I do not consider the New Yorker a racist magazine.

    If I had a job, I might subscribe to it. Just because I know they usually have some interesting articles... and even some good satire. I remember the picture of the pregnant elderly woman they had on the cover many years back. That was to poke fun at the debate on older women (50's & 60's) having children (by lying to the fertility clinic doctors..) Now that image was good satire.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  22. Ruth

    Silly propaganda. An undermining and fear driven tactic!

    Not Nice!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  23. Darnell in Atlanta

    The Cover of the magazine from the New Yorker is an ill-fated attempt to make the Obama's look like something that they are not. I would not be so fast to blame the republicans for being behind this piece of trickery. First of all it is a New York magazine. Second of all lets take a look at who is defending this garbage as just another funny joke. James Carvel and others who opposed Obama in the primary's. I would like to see a united response from all democrats including Hillary Clinton and her supporters. If this happens then I will focus in on this being a republican propaganda piece. This piece was spun out of a web of deception. With deception it is usually the last suspects that you point your fingers at. Only narrow minded people can be tricked by such trash.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  24. GK

    Pleeeeeeease! anybody in the MEDIA, do some investigative reporting and deliver complete and independent bio of Sen. Obama and people who brought him up and influenced him SO WE CAN PUT BEHIND US THIS NONSENSE!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  25. Nanette

    LOL!!! How rediculous!!
    Most average Americans for so many years have been not thinking , and worst of all, repeating half truths!!! Thanks to the left wing media!
    How in the world did the New York Times ever think that most Americans would ever get it, that the front cover was a satire!!
    Beleive it or not most Americans don't even know what a satire is!!!
    I rarley trust anything the media has to say, we Americans are just spoon fed what ever the media wants to feed us!
    Amazing, the media concerned about truth, oh that is right, Obama is a
    democrat and a liberal. Of course he can not be attached-neither should John McCain. Like, "A vote for McCain is a vote for Bush."
    So, where is the truth? Who in the heck knows, it sure isn't in any of our elections nor in the media anymore!
    "Keeping them honest ?" LOL!!!!!!!!
    Your only half honest, and where I come from half a truth is a whole lie, am I surprised-that anything to do with our President is a negative, no!
    I guess, it is just the way it is! The media just reporting the news, no adjenda in mind, are of years gone by, many years gone by!
    Where, celebreties are as much in the news as any "demi god out there!
    No wonder our Presidential candidates have to be rich and actors!

    To Tracy from Texas-ya, you can spell it and look in the mirror when you say it-not hard to see that! Anything at all that is negative get's blamed on the GOP-you are a DA-The New York Times-is liberal-in other words, DEMOCRATIC!!!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  26. J. M.

    The New Yorker cover is such great satire; let's follow it up with McCain on the cover in his Ku Klux Klan robe and a burning cross. Perhaps McCain could be depicted with a fire hose and a German shepherd dog while planting a bomb in a Black church. After that we could put Hillary in her best “Gone with the Wind" outfit being served a mint julep by Jackson-Lee or Tubbs and Bill in his "overseer" outfit castrating Jessie or with a noose in his hands chasing Roland through the cotton fields. And let's not forget the swastika and bull whip for each of them with images of Hitler in the background. That would nicely sum up all the "right" beliefs about each of those individuals. No ex or potential president should be exempt from or spared such wholesome satire.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  27. andrea

    the new yorker magazine might have good writers, but this time they have went overboard... by printing this picture- what they have done, is bring up bad feelings about blacks in america, and now they are saying we are terrorists. When does the hatred end?????????

    July 14, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  28. lampe

    18 million people who did not vote for because they either do not trust him or don't know about him could not all be wrong. As for the picture you either like it or not. I really do not think The NEW YORKER cares one way or another. This is not the first picture of Obama in that muslim outfit anyways. It's been all over the internet for along time now. grow-up people

    July 14, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  29. Amina from Vancouver, Canada

    So what if Obama is a muslim, are muslims not good enough? America should stopping focusing on what religion Obama is or is not. I don`t hear anyone mentioning McCain's religion. This just shows that America is not ready for a black President which would be a hard pill to swollow and therefore using all kinds of tactics to tarnish Obama's image. He deserve to be where he is today, not because he is black or a so called muslim but because he worked his way up there.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  30. Eric Dunford

    The New Yorkers cover is working to undo or at least to give a picture to the ridiculous and unbacked claims that have haunted Obama's political career. The cover is clearly satire, but that is not the point. The point is that we are have been pressed and forced over the last seven years to think and fear in such a way that we no longer understand what is making us so afraid. All one needs to do is call someone a 'terrorist' or a 'radical'–swear up and down that they are un-American–and the damage is done. What happened on September 11th almost seven years ago has caused us to hide under our own rhetoric. What the cover is trying to illuminate is the simple absurdities of those fears when projected on the democratic political candidate. There is no facts or evidence to back up the claims that either Barack Obama or his wife, Michelle, are radical or anti-American. However, we no longer look at facts as much as we used to: the problem is that we still see skin deep. Obama is somewhat of a mystery. We don't have thirty or forty years of political history on him and that feeling of uncertainty, that touch of the unknown, on how he will conduct himself as president has caused the public's mind to wander. Obama, despite everything he has done, has been painted with ours fears–seven years worth of them. The New Yorker is trying to offer us a chance to view this fear from a different angle. It, through humor, is trying to enlighten the public on the absurdity of these unbacked allegations. However the problem with humor is that it is particular, and maybe this joke cut too deeply and too close to the nerve to be understood. No one likes to laugh at themselves–not when they are laughing at something so close to them. I don't believe this cover makes the New Yorker foolish; I believe it is showing us how foolish we've been.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:45 pm |
  31. Carl

    The New Yorker is taking for granted that everyone knows the meaning of the word satire. When you have to explain the image to the public, you've failed at making your point.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  32. Mouhamad

    This is the most stupid satire I ever seen in my life. Again unlike John McCain, why Mr. Obama has to face all these funny accusations?
    Give us a break and let the guy run as a caring husben, father, and a great american. Beside. what's wrong with being a muslim? I'm a muslim my self and love this wonderful country just like everybody else.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  33. Wahba

    The Editor think he is funny, and will create so much sales. For that edition. I urge every one to stop & boycott this issue there are no explanation beyond the cover. The editor trying to be funny but he is not, hope the public understand how stupid that editor is.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  34. Tonia

    I was livid when I saw this cover. I am a New Yorker! This joke didn't work, it wasn't funny. I am an African-American Female Republican and I was pissed off when I saw the cover. The cover did not make me want to pick up the magazine, lest more read the article. A picture is worth a 1000 words and this picture is negative. The picture will stay in my mind longer than anything that may be said to repudiate it.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  35. Bab Adetiba

    I'm a Black kid, and a Democrat first of all. I don't know if this is satire or slander. The 1st amendment lets you print whatever you want. This could be satire, but since the media knows Obama, religion, and anti-American mixed together will sell, they put it on TV. Now since its on TV, the question has arose. And since this is a Liberal paper, it's even more surprising. My final answer is idk. Too tough to answer.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  36. Fran Edwards

    Historically political satire has worked, however, it's hard to close your eyes to this particular New Yorker cover because the satirical message does not match the individuals the cover is trying to portray. I think this is an ill attempt to continue to raise questions about the couple and their allegiance to America. The cover is very misleading in that the article talks about Obama's career as a politician in Chicago. I'm sure the intention of the cover was to engage readers who had questions about the Obama's background and ideology and the show them a different side of the Senator. I hope that Obama doesn't take time from his campaign to address this and that he stays the course. This is just one of the main valleys that he must travel to get the to top of the hill. He will forever be rediculed because of his name and his wife will forever be judged becuase of her comments that have been selectively shared in the media. As astute individuals and readers of such prolific magazines, it is up to us to do our own filtering of the media and understand that the real meaning in the message may not be what we think it is.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  37. Wil

    This cover is clever, but too clever for the masses. Too many people will scan the cover and have their ignorance reinforced by it's images. They should put this text in big letters somewhere on the same cover - "If you believe this, you are ignorant."

    July 14, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  38. Pam

    The people at the New Yorker magazine are not dumb. They knew exactly what they were doing. It's really disgraceful. It is a shame that Senator Obama has to continually defend himself against such nonsense. Let the candidates speak about the issues that are really important in this country instead of spending time addressing such inflammatory nonsense.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  39. Teresa. Texas

    This is very sad..this is like salt in the wound. As I read all these comments I can surely pick out which comments are from someone white and the ones from African Americans. Ok as an African American do I feel my heart with hatered and racism, like some of the white race. I ask White America on how they feel minority races feel about these personal attacks against a man and his family when he is only trying to live the American dreams just like the white people do? If The New Yorker was ran from American Africans the magazine would have been shut down in a matter of hours probably minutes especially if this type of picture was a betrayal of out white president bush. This is future racism that the African American live on a daily basis. America in recession African Americans are in recession everyday of their lives in America, we live month to month with or without degrees. I do have a degree if you are wondering and I am an African American Female who is sick and tired of all this unfairness in America. It is so sad but I have friends overseas who say they are treated better than they were when they lived in America and right now they choose not to come back to America if ever they do not know. Why is Obama coming under attack and will this be an issue if the man was white? I feel not.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  40. Michael

    Why is it all of a sudden we can equate the New Yorker with the Dutch magazines that were blasted by the Muslim world as disrespectful of Muhammed. Is Barack Obama a religious figure now that is above reproach. If you put yourself out into the public arena you must expect that you will be a target for unwarraented and unfair attacks. While I do not believe that Michelle Obama would in any way,shape 'or form take up arms against her country;orthatBarak would burn a flag in any senerio,it does not stagger the imagination to entertain the notion that they would consider themselves beyond reproach. What I would like to know is when did the Mullahs take over our editorial sensabilities?

    July 14, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  41. Monty Stilson

    I'm certain the %12 that thinks Obama is a "Muslin" doesn't read the New Yorker....... or much of any thing else.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  42. E. L Carter

    I think The New Yorker Missed A Great Chance To Explain The Entire Ordeal. This Is Plain Trash, I am Surprised Of The New Yorker.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  43. Todd

    As Roland pointed out tonight, there is a disconnect between the New Yorker cover and its stories on Obama. The editorial staff made a lousy decision to run the cover without comment. Very poor judgment.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:18 pm |

    Cut off Racism at the head—boycott THE NEW YORKER magazine!

    July 14, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  45. carol hillson


    July 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  46. Ray Fisher

    This is yet another sad day in this election that plays on race and fear ... when will it end.

    July 14, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  47. WinB

    Dear America

    If you don't like the New Yorker DON'T BUY IT.


    PS: and don't take it out on the New Yorker staff

    July 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  48. Jo Anne Cummings

    Funny that it is "satire" when we wish it to be and racism if we choose....at least lets not flip-flop on this........

    July 14, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  49. Larry

    What were they thinking; that most Americans are sophisticated enough to delve further than the cover, what an overestimation on their part.

    July 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  50. Zach

    Great magazine, awful cover. What were they thinking?!

    July 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
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