NPR logo

Magazine Depiction Of Obamas Fuels Outrage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92547497/92547493" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Magazine Depiction Of Obamas Fuels Outrage

Media

Magazine Depiction Of Obamas Fuels Outrage

Magazine Depiction Of Obamas Fuels Outrage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92547497/92547493" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The New Yorker magazine is drawing both buzz and condemnation for its cover illustration depicting a turban-clad Sen. Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The image also shows Obama's wife, Michelle, armed with a machine gun. A portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs in the background.

A spokesman for the Democratic presidential candidate rebuked The New Yorker for publishing the illustration, describing it as "offensive" and "distasteful." Strong reaction is also reverberating beyond party lines. John McCain, Obama's main opponent in the White House race, joined the resounding outcry and called the drawing "inappropriate."

The cover is also triggering an aggressive debate among journalists about the fine line between satiric and offensive media. New Yorker Editor David Remnick and Barry Blitt, who drew the cartoon, defend the illustration as satire, mocking allegations that the Obamas are unpatriotic.

Media blogger Richard Prince and columnist George Curry, former editor of Emerge magazine, discuss the reaction to the magazine cover and what, if anything, should be off-limits for satire.

'New Yorker' Editor Defends Obama Cover

'New Yorker' Editor Defends Obama Cover

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92529393/92529357" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Taleb Alkardai holds up a copy of the New Yorker magazine cover showing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist at his midtown newstand Monday. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Taleb Alkardai holds up a copy of the New Yorker magazine cover showing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist at his midtown newstand Monday.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The controversial cover of this week's New Yorker was meant to poke fun at the "politics of fear" surrounding Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy, says top editor David Remnick.

"The intention is to satirize not Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, but, in fact, to hold a pretty harsh light up to the rumors, innuendos, lies about the Obamas that have come up — that they are somehow insufficiently patriotic or soft on terrorism," he says.

The cover shows an illustration of Obama dressed like Osama bin Laden, and Obama's wife, Michelle, wearing military gear. They are sharing a fist bump in the Oval Office. The title of the cartoon, listed on the contents page, is "The Politics of Fear."

"Satire doesn't run with subtitles," Remnick adds. "A satirical cartoon would not be any good if it came with a set of instructions."

Remnick says the cover has caused so much controversy, in part, because so many voters are dissatisfied with this country's political course and have invested much of their hopes in Obama.

"The kind of e-mail I get is telling me, 'I get it. But I don't think so-and-so is going to get it, I don't think so-and-so in West Virginia or out there in the Middle West,'" he says. "That, to me, is a false argument. That, if you can get it, why can't other people get it? I don't think that this notion that only Upper West Side Manhattan elitists get satire is the case at all."

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.