July 15th, 2008
07:30 AM ET

Satire hits slander on all sides

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/14/art.obamacar.jpg]
Eric Bloom
AC360° Producer

The cover of The New Yorker satirizing Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle as anti-American, bin Laden-loving, Islamic terrorists has created a political firestorm – but you have to wonder if all the fire has been aimed in the right direction. The magazine’s editor and a writer blanketed cable news today defending the cartoon, explaining that they intended to demonstrate just how outrageous these slanders are against Obama.

And some believe the cartoon will only help spread the notions caricatured on the cover and provide right wing blogs and conservative commentators with more ammunition. This might be true, but let’s remember the right hasn’t been alone in feeding the Muslim myth. During the primary campaign the Clinton camp pushed the Muslim angle, too:

  • Bob Kerrey repeatedly said "Barack Hussein Obama."
  • On 60 Minutes, Hillary Clinton was asked if she thought Obama was a Muslim and said, “I take him on the basis of what he says” when he claims he’s not one. A qualified response that some believe fostered doubt rather than put it to rest.
  • Clinton volunteers were forced to resign after circulating an email that Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate, meaning he secretly supports a Muslim agenda.
  • And many believe a picture showing Obama in native African garb was circulated by the Clinton campaign or its supporters.

A Newsweek poll finds 12 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. The misperceptions have not been created just within the past month, since Obama clinched the nomination. They have been gaining currency since last year.

Obama has repeatedly said he is a Christian. So how can he set the record straight? Or can he?

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. GIFTY

    Personally, I do not trust Obama. Michelle should not be the next first lady.

    July 16, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  2. Ilhana, Bosnia

    Wow and all this just because he "might" be Muslim?(which he isn't anyway)...
    I thought America is the land of the free etc... In any way, Americans need to pass each other the memo about that change. From now on, it is the land of the suitable.

    July 16, 2008 at 7:25 am |
  3. Pat

    One thing we do know about Barack Obama is that he is African American and he will always be African American. Not half white, his father was African American and that is why he will always be. With that said any way the racist people of thiscountry will be against him and they will. They will never except him because he is black. Look people it is the first time a black man has come close to becoming the first African American president. That will change this country in a profound way.

    July 16, 2008 at 3:40 am |
  4. Trasa, Tx

    Obama, is never going to convince these people and what's so funny is that if he is Muslim, shouldn't the the Rev Wright thing be irrelevant considering he was a preacher for a Christian faith and not a the Muslim faith. It's one or the other, not both. Obama just need to focus on issues and campaigning because they already made up their minds who he is. You can't change everyone. Jesus could come down from heaven himself and tell everyone he's not Muslim and still wouldn't believe. There you guys go with that fear mongering, you did when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, you put the Japanese Americans in camps, then when the threat of Communist came about, everybody was Black Listed. And of course, blacks were always considered a danger to society and now, some of them are because they hear it so much, might as well make believers out of them. Now it's Muslims. I'm sick of this, this country is built on diverse people, so if you going to single out groups just because some bad apples make the whole bunch look bad, you might as well not be called America.

    It's not a matter of being obsessed with Obama, us supporters truly believe in our candidate, just like those die hard Hillary supporters believed in Hillary. And Obama is not looking for the spotlight, everyone and the news media keep putting him there, so naturally he's going to walk into it.

    July 16, 2008 at 3:11 am |
  5. chris

    who is ready for a good ole' fashion book-burning (magazine-burning) session!!! <-–(satire). Thank God for the first amendment. The magazine cover is a satire of the right-wing loon's VIEW of Mr. Obama, it is not a satire of Mr. Obama... Just in case anybody who reads this is wondering, I am absolutely voting for Mr. Obama.

    July 16, 2008 at 12:50 am |
  6. Malloy

    The only reason that this Mr. & Mrs. Obama satire DOES have impact — and may very likely spread — is because like all good satire, or good humor for that matter, there’s more than a germ of truth in it. Otherwise, the satire would utterly roll off the Obamoids’ backs, having no impact.

    July 15, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  7. Mary Greene

    Here we go again CNN and bloggers acting silly season. The man said he was not a m. Why in the name of Jesus, do you all keep stiring up this mess. Don't you all have a life? Have you wondered why so many countries hate America, perhaps not, we don't like ourselves. We hate each other here and we expect to get liked by other countries.
    There are so many wrongs in this country, do you think we will ever survived all this junk going on in the good old USA people. This crap needs to stop. You want something to talk about, well these are some:
    high gas prices, homeless, hate in people hearts, tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes, flooding, child abuse, soliders being killed on a lie, prison system broken, vets sleeping under bridges and homeless after fighting for their country. Talk about these CNN and get off the crap. I wish you all grow up and realized that there is more than one race in this country and get some of that hate out of your hearts, please get a life and talk about things going on in this country that is worth talking about. We are living in different times than in the 50's and 60's. Please stop being so racist America. We need to pull together to help our country before it slip out of our hands quickly and we have no country to decide what religion each person has. PLEASE CUT THE CRAP. IT IS REALLY SICK!

    July 15, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  8. Etta J

    Gail, you seem to believe in experience. So then why vote for MCCain who answered he had no idea how to fix the economy? Vote Obama if you want change. Get rid if bIg business in the government, and support the middle class! For those "loyal" Clinton supporters, who are threatning to vote for a man who is against almost everything she stood for, DON'T! Vote Obama she fully supports him and so should you!

    July 15, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  9. Will in California

    The artist who drew the caricature of the Obamas in the New Yorker obviously hasn't been watching the news regularly. He forgot to draw that ridiculous ranting reverend friend of theirs warming his hands near the chimney fire (since the reverend boasted or joked, in church, that he would be at the White House, even as VP), while that crazy Catholic priest is sitting next to him painting his face black. Come on people, lets help the artist finish this satirical work of art. It’s been said that if a satire needs to be explained, then it isn’t any good. On the other hand, if some can’t see it as satire, then maybe they aren’t smart enough to see it that way. Still, the cover of the New Yorker needs to represent the article within its pages, or else the magazine missed a great point and made a mistake.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  10. Rich from Phoenix

    I'm planning to vote for Obama, but I think it would be nice if, in the process of defending Obama's Christian "cred," the campaign also said that in this country, it shouldn't matter if a candidate is Christian. Or Jewish. Or Muslim, Hindu, or any other religion or no religion at all.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  11. GAIL Centre,Al;

    The cover of the NEW YORKER magazine is the same vision lots of americans have had in their minds for months. THANK GOD , for free speech. I'll will never vote for anyone whose middle name is Hussien, and thinks we have 57 states. WAKE UP PEOPLE, we are in a crisis and need good leadership not someone who doesn't even know what he stands for he has flip- flopped on every issue. and voted over100 times PRESENT in the senate. does that sound like good leadership. YES WE CAN MCCAIN CAN, IF ANYBODY CAN.

    00 times present in the senate. WE NEED EXPERICENCE.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  12. Emma in Houston TX.

    Grant-San Diego,CA...."WELL SAID" !!!!!!! Come on Americans, let's cut this "BS" out and unite and make it a better place for ALL !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  13. Anna

    Unsure of what Sonali is basing his comments that the candidate has no morals, principles, core or "record." I've seen some pretty smarmy politicians, and this candidate is not in that company.

    Racist attitudes have no place in this election. Just consider the issues. Judge him by his integrity not his skin color.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  14. vern-anaheim ,ca

    of course sen. obama is not a muslim,it's the haters of african american's who want us to believe he is and will stoop at anything totry and stop him from being elected.i can't say anything good about sen. mccain for i would have never deserted my crippeled wife and yes to marry a younger heiress,let's see the new yorker magazine get on that

    July 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  15. Sonali

    I agree with Ryan from PA. I am an immigrant and a first time voter, a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton who will not vote for Obama. It has nothing to do with this cartoon. I also can't understand why being Muslim is a bad thing in US? But that is not the reason why many of us are not voting for Obama. He has run an unethical campaign esp. here in Texas where Hillary won the Primary and he got more delegates in caucus with fraud and corruption. Plus DNC and SDs stole the nomination from Hillary. Obama has proved to be a man who will say or do anything to get elected. When he will lose in November, it won't be because of this stupid cartoon. Nobody cares whether he is a Muslim or if his wife is a terrorist, but we do care that he has no record, no core, no prinicples or morals. I am repelled by his speeches which are just speeches and when he calls his opponents (Hillary or McCain) as just politicians whenever he is counter arguing a point made by them. He himself is a politician of the worst kind.
    CNN, I hope you post this.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  16. Grant-San Diego,CA

    As an African-American living in this great country of ours I’ve been deeply troubled (although not surprised) by the recent controversy regarding Barak Obama’s religious faith. “Is he or is he not a Muslim?” seems to be the haunting question of his campaign. Mr. Obama has repeatedly responded in kind by disavowing any connection to the Muslim faith while pledging full allegiance to Jesus Christ his “Lord and Savior.”
    What sad times indeed….
    The fact that Mr. Obama feels the political urgency to distance himself from rumors that he is a Muslim is another tragic mark on our quest to become a tolerant nation. It re-enforces our past history of intolerance and hypocrisy. Being a Muslim in America is apparently not such a good thing. They seem to be the oppressed class du jour.
    And what about Barak Obama? Is pulling two women dressed in traditional Muslim garb off the stage of a political rally really a different kind of politics? Is this a politics of inclusion? Audacity of hope for a better America? I think not, Sir!
    What Mr. Obama should be saying is: “No, I am not a Muslim, but why should it matter?” And as a matter of fact why should any citizen’s race, gender, religious faith, sexual orientation, disability status, or anything else matter? We are all AMERICANS! Maybe its time for us to ask ourselves the question: “What would Jesus do?”

    July 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  17. bert

    Hate does not care if it comes from the left or the right. Hate does not care if it is spewed by Bob Kerrey, Hillary Clinton or some short sighted man hiding behind the title of editior, political bureaucracy and just plain ole ignorance. The head guy for the New Yorker, is creating a great opportunity for someone to come in and move that company in the direction of inclusion. When your job is the media and all eyes are on you, you have to remember that your intentions and your spirit is evident in your work. Yeah...we know what you meant.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  18. Jan from Wood Dale, IL

    Mr. Bloom, I'm not certain what your objective is, but your post is a poor example of presenting all the facts in order to let the audience decide.

    Regarding Bob Kerrey's use of Senator Obama's full name, well, it is the Senator's full name. The idol worship among some of Obama's supporters runs so deep that they have taken using "Hussein" as their own middle names as a symbol of solidarity.

    In Dec. 2007, HRC's campaign asked one of its volunteer country coordinators in Iowa to step down after the person FORWARDED an e-mail falsely stating Obama is a muslim. The e-mail was NOT generated by the Clinton campaign.

    If you ever moved past the Drudge Report, you would have learned that the 2006 photo of Obama wearing a turban and native Kenyan clothing first appeared in a 2006 report by the African News Agency, Han-Geeska Afrika Online. The National Enquirer reported ran the photo in its Feb 4th issue. The photo also appeared on the right-wing message board Free Republic and conservative blog Sweetness and Light BEFORE Drudge picked it up.

    And when Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked HRC if she thought Obama was a muslim, she immediately responded "Of course not!" Then in less than a minute, 8 separate times HRC either plainly denied the false claim, labeled the suggestion to be a smear or expressed sympathy for Obama having to deal with the muslim innuendo. It was only due to Steve Kroft's repeated insistence that she make some sort of declarative statement on Obama's religious beliefs did Clinton add the qualifier "as far as I know".

    July 15, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  19. JC- Los Angeles

    The New Yorker is just another example of tasteless leadership; as our politicians, executives and select members of the cloth have often shown us, leadership, class and respect have all become things of the past.

    Who knew that one would have to travel to the jungles of Colombia to find a woman and three men that possessed character, heart, commitment, love, compassion and an unwavering spirit to survive.

    I'm hopeful that their story will someday grace the cover of The New Yorker since it sure can teach us an awful lot.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  20. jim

    I don't see anything wrong with the caricature portraying Barack Hussein Obama sa a Muslim. He is a Muslim won't admit until he is elected. It seems my "BUDDY" Anderson Cooper makes an issue of this when it is against a left wing democrat presidential candidate. It is well known that Barack has a brother in Africa that is a member of a terrorist organization. Andersoh get the silver spoon out of your mouth and do some unbiased reporting for a change.

    July 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  21. Susan


    Satire is usually meant to be funny, however that is not its primary purpose. It is used as an attack by its author on something of which said author strongly disapproves of, using wit as his/her tool of choice. The New Yorker magazine used satire to point out how absurd the myths that surround Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama are.
    When I first saw the cover I was offended, as were many others. Satire usually does offend. It is supposed to.

    The minds of people who still believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim are not going to be changed by a magazine cover or even the candidate himself. Those people's minds are closed and are using anything that they can latch onto as a rationalization for not voting for him. They are not unlike one issue voters that do not look at the totality of the candidate, but if that one issue is lacking they will never cast a vote for that person.


    July 15, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  22. Annie Kate

    Why don't we take all this energy we are wasting on this magazine cover and apply it to some of the issues of today – there is enough energy and intelligence here to find some solutions we can all live with. Stewing over a magazine cover that we won't remember this time next year seems such a waste.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 15, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  23. Saad, Ramsey, NJ

    The editor and the Management of The New Yorker got exactly what they were looking for. FAME!

    Evil exists in all societies including ours. There will always be some with twisted minds who will capitalize on naive peoples ignorance and write articles or post pictures to get attention. Always. Not that no one knew about the The New Yorker but holy Jesus look at them now... They are all over the place, all over TV, Radio and everywhere....

    I know they never will be but I seriously wonder if any of their mother is ashamed of giving birth to them....

    July 15, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  24. Elijah

    Sen. Obama has time and again said he's Christian, so i agree with him when he opts not to comment on the new yorker cartoon. But i would wish that his campaign team addresses this issue by clearly exposing the inappropriateness of the cartoon, and the absurdity of smear and hate campaign initiated by the new yorker editorial board, and request for an apology from the magazine editor not to the Obamas, but to the Moslem and black Americans. Its as if being moslem or black is a curse in America.

    This comes well with the Change slogan! America is for all, irrespective of race, religion, gender etc. You can not expect humble a "radical" with confrontation; if your child is a thief, the more you curse him/her, the more convicted (s)he becomes.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  25. Jessie

    Although I have been disappointed at several occassions in the ways how AC360 has handeled some of the presidential race controversies (for example, Mr. Wright story), I thought that last evening Anderson Cooper was at his best and I agree with the comments of Mr. Bloom that "all is not one-sided". I am a democrat but I always liked Mr. Bill Bennet and I was not suprised that he, a true expert in true (non-partisan, American) values gave the best comment on the unfortunate front page of the New Yorker – as a satire went wrong in the hands of (in this case), "half-smart", that is no smart at all, editors. Mr. Carville was shallow, bragging about free press and historical track record of the magazine. In general, Mr. Carville (a die-hard Clintons' supporter) is not doing good job for senator Obama – one can not go far agaist the nature! Mr. Carville seems to be somewhat outdated for AC360 – a "show" that aspire to be at the cutting-edge.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  26. Ryan Field from New Hope, PA

    The people (voters) who didn't see this cover as satire don't care anyway. Besides, most of them don't even read the New Yorker; most have never read it.

    And people like me, who *get* the satire, don't care either. We're Democrats voting for John McCain, and it's not because we think Michelle is a militant or that Barack is a muslim (We know he isn't and she's not; and even if he is Muslim it shouldn't matter anyway; I feel bad for Muslims in America these days)...it's because the DNC helped him steal the primary from Hillary Clinton and we're not going to forget that. It's that simple, though sad, for a liberal Democrat like me to admit this in writing.

    So the only people upset about this are the Lear Jet Liberals (the millenials who supported Obama so widely are off on summer vacation drinking somewhere; they don't care either) who just can't seem to take a joke very well when it comes to their precious Obama. We Hillary Clinton supporters took all that abuse and more for months, and from fellow Democrats, too. So you guys all upset about The New Yorker (Donna Brazile and Roland Martin) buck up and take it like it was intended: as a satirical piece.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:33 am |
  27. Kathy Pines

    I majored in journalism in the 80's at Georgia State University and worked for a local, legal paper while in school. So, I understand the purpose of political satire when it comes to politicians and the media. I do not always agree with its use because I choose to see the candidates as people first and foremost. My opinion in this choice of a cover for The New Yorker has left me with a less than tasteful ideal of their product. I understand the goal of selling and making a profit, but at what expense are they willing to do this? After my initial outrage of having seen this cover, my heart sank in total disappointment. As a Christian, an African-American, a female and a journalist, I was disturbed on many levels. It is an extreme depiction, to say the least, and portrays the Obamas in a very unflattering light. Most of us know that when choosing to dine at a fine restaurant, the presentation of the food is the initial appeal. I hope many will lose their appetite for what The New Yorker is serving up by thinking that this will entice people to purchase and read their publication.

    July 15, 2008 at 10:28 am |
  28. ANGIE

    i think alot of people use the muslim thing to hide their racisim alot of people dont want a black man for president even though obama is half white that should not matter what should matter is who is gonna take this country forward who is gonna keep us safe who is gonna bring back peace and prosperity and from what ive seen following this election as well as the primaries half black or not that answer would be senator Barack HusseinObama and just because his name is not perfect does not mean he is the person that people are making up rumors and smears about

    July 15, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  29. Grish Begian

    Yes we have freedom of speech, and cartoon is part of that freedom, but New York magazine should have never shown a burning flag in fire place, that was offensive and insulting to Americans, nobody has right to burn a flag even in a cartoon, I think the New York magazine should apologize to Americans, then to Obama.

    Toronto, Canada

    July 15, 2008 at 10:19 am |
  30. scooter

    It's good to know that after more than 200 years, our politics is still such that we focus on character assassination rather than actual issues. Ain't America wonderful, steeped in such time-honored traditions?

    July 15, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  31. Cindy

    There are a lot of misconceptions about Obama floating around out there. Either people believe them or they don't. A cartoon isn't going to make anyone stand up and change their view of the man or his wife.

    We do have freedom of speech for a reason. We can't sensor things just because we don't like it. If you don't like it then don't look at it. You do have that right.


    July 15, 2008 at 8:39 am |
  32. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    The question is not about setting the Muslim record straight even though Obama isn't a Muslim, but why is being a Muslim so taboo? If we want unity then race, gender, religion or age should not be factors in this election. If I were Muslim I would be offended that this was such an issue. What can only Christians be president of this country? I am a Christian and I find that absurd.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:10 am |
  33. Jonedward

    obama needs continue finding young unbiased americans to vote for him. the old racist that was interviewed at a football game is indicative of the core racist person in america. there are many decent white americans – they will vote for obama. I am waiting for the new yorker to depict mccain as a voting against mlk day, leaving his crippled wife after he returned from the war, running around with numerous women not mentioning his first family, marrying a young heiress for her money and the elitist heiress popping cindy mccain who is so proud of her country that she couldnt stop popping drugs - am waiting for the new yorkers next cover. then I will pass judgement on the new yorker magazine.
    from a senior citizen like mccain- just learning to use a computer.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:08 am |
  34. Dorothy Williams

    When the CNN Political Contributors are defending their respective campaign's positions, I believe it's important for the Contributor to be a strong believer and supporter of their candidates positions. For example, I believe the CNN Political Contributor for the Democratic Nominee should be one of his supporters. Because this person will aggresively defend their candidates position. For example, James Carville is a Hillary Supporter, and he does not believe in Senator Obama's platform. As such when James Carville is attempting to defend Senator Obama's positions, he's not doing a good job at it. The Republican Contributor always seems to do a better job than James Carville.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:07 am |