'New Yorker' cover angers Obama campaign
Published: Sunday July 13, 2008

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Update: Magazine defends satirical cover

On the cover of the upcoming New Yorker: Satirical portrayal of Obama through the eyes of his opposition, or McCain recruitment poster?

Senator Obama shrugged and said he had "no response" when asked about the cover on Sunday by CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic. The Obama campaign, on introspection, was more decisive on the issue; it might have appreciated the humor, if not for the delivery.

The cover art, depicting Senator Obama in a turban, while wife Michelle, packing an assault rifle, shares a "fist bump" with him, is described by the New Yorker as artist's Barry Blitt's lampooning of "scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama's campaign."

"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," countered Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

"This is as offensive a caricature as any magazine could publish," one high-profile Obama backer told ABC News, "and I suspect that other Obama supporters like me are also thinking about not subscribing to or buying a magazine that trafficks (sic) in such trash."

"We completely agree with the Obama campaign," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds added. "It’s tasteless and offensive."

Update: Magazine defends satirical cover

In a statement Monday, the magazine said the cover "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are."

"The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover," the New Yorker statement said.

The statement also pointed to the two articles on Obama contained inside the magazine, calling them "very serious."

Huffington Post has an interview with editor David Remnick, who talks about the controversy that erupted almost immediately this weekend.

"This cover has quickly become very controversial," Huffington's Rachel Sklar asked Remnick. "The Obama campaign has called it 'tasteless and offensive.' Why did you run it?"

Remnick responded by email: "Obviously I wouldn't have run a cover just to get attention — I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say. What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama's — both Obamas' — past, and their politics. I can't speak for anyone else's interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama's supposed 'lack of patriotism' or his being 'soft on terrorism' or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office."

"The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are..." Remnick adds. "We've run many many satirical political covers. Ask the Bush administration how many."

(with wire reports)