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Outrageous NEW YORKER Cover Could Have Devastating Impact On Obama Campaign

Some cartoonist at THE NEW YORKER magazine thought that it would be both satirical and funny to make up a cover based on some of the absurd far right caricatures, outright lies, loose right wing radio talk and unchecked spam Email attacks on presidential candidate Barack Obama, portraying Obama and his wife as Muslim terrorists.

As absurd as this cover actually is, it could well have a devastating impact on the Obama campaign that it may never recover from. While most educated voters certainly understand what the satire that THE NEW YORKER is attempting to convey here, somehow the lasting false image of someone not interested in the best interests of the nation unfortunately lingers on. This might be unfortunately cement a negative image just the opposite of what was the real intent of THE NEW YORKER. The Obama campaign is absolutely right to be outraged.

There is no good rational reason to question the patriotism of Senator Obama or for some detractors to believe that he will be anything less than tough in defending the nation if elected president. Yet THE NEW YORKER cover unfairly and unfortunately only leaves a terrible lasting image in the subconscious of voters that may be almost impossible for the Obama campaign to ever recover from in minds of enough voters to swing the November election. If the image of Obama in full Muslim dress with a portrait of Osama Bin Laden in the background wasn't nearly offensive enough, then the even worst caricature of Obama's wife is disgustingly portrayed armed with an assault rifle like some terrorist. This is absolutely the worst false image of Obama that could ever be portrayed, and certainly can result in some lasting harm. It conjures up the worst possible mental image of any candidate running for president ever. It's the worst.

I'm a major defender of a free press and freedom of speech. I'm one of the strongest 1st Amendment champions there is. But THE NEW YORKER just didn't think this one through. You just don't portray a major candidate for president in such a tasteless manner as this. Freedom of speech may allow presidential candidates to be portrayed in any comic manner possible in this nation, unlike in some closed systems where you cannot even be critical of the government. THE NEW YORKER may have intended to parody the hate speech from some irresponsible sources aimed at Senator Obama, however you can't really parody something so far out as hate speech without some unintended consequences. Some speech is so irresponsible and awful that it just can't be glorified even with damnation. THE NEW YORKER cover really crossed the line this time. The normally classy publication with fine journalism may have done some serious damage to the Obama campaign even while supposedly attempting to ridicule the wave of false attacks aimed at him.

Will this awful cover be nothing more than a footnote to the election? Hopefully so. About the only positive is that THE NEW YORKER's circulation and distribution is low enough that this awful cover will not be seen by many voters. But certainly it will hang around in medical and dental waiting rooms and many other places for months to come, and the damage could repeat itself over and over again. No candidate for president should ever be treated this way.

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Rating: 2.5/5 (8 votes cast)

Comments (10)


After eight years of Bush administration officials being subjected some of the most bigoted, crude, and vulgar caricatures ever printed, all I can say is SUCK. IT. UP.

While I also cannot always approve of some of ways that President Bush has been portrayed, I don't recall any that made him ever appear as an agent of a hated foreign enemy or as burning the American flag in the fireplace. If THE NEW YORKER was looking to generate controversy and publicity to generate sales, then it probably succeeded. However any portrayal of burning the flag or acting as an agent of a foreign enemy simply crossed the line of responsible publishing for a cover shot for a major magazine. The same thing would have been to portray some politician as an advocate of Hitler during WWII and burning the flag. With many Americans still angry at 9/11, it is completely wrong to equate any major presidential candidate with Bin Laden. Even John McCain was rightly outraged at this cover as well.

I'm such a defender of press freedom that I will defend even the very worst of filmmakers or publishers right to produce. Even a Larry Flynt is way too patriotic to ever demean the flag or equate a politician with a hated enemy as this cover did. This cover was well below the moral standards even established by HUSTLER Magazine.It takes an awful lot for me to say too much. The cover was like an inside joke, that way too few in the public will really understand unless they buy and read the magazine. You know that inside jokes leave a little too much for the general public to understand unless they purchase the magazine, so possible harm is certainly generated by this.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

If the Republicans didn't pay for that cover they should be charged for it.

And Bush isn't running for office, Obama is.


Ahh, freedom of the press, freedom of speech except when Obama doesn't like it.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Corporations don't have "freedom of speech" - your argument is specious and irrelevant. Get lost, Waldo... no one is looking for you around here - lol.

I might be inclined to find some malice in this incident if someone like, say, Sid Blumenthal still worked at TNY. But he doesn't.

When you find the likes of Hendrik Hertzberg, Seymour M. Hersh, Jeff Toobin, and David Remnick on the masthead it's hard to cry foul, or at least malice aforethought, because these folks are solidly in the Obama camp.

My take is that TNY attempted some clever satire and wit that was a little too dry and a little too sarcastic. It didn't work and now Remnick is beside himself trying to explain.


Well, I can't see myself voting for Obama, but I thought this cover was way over the top. I like my satire a little more subtle than this. In the long run, I don't think it will be such a big deal, though. I don't think any sane person thinks the New Yorker is going to take Obama to task. The average American doesn't look at it. The average American generally doesn't read blogs. Has any nightly news show actually shown the cover?


It so funny when a liberal, arrogant, elitist publication thinks itself so witty by printing this cover on the liberal, arrogant, elitist Obama's and how it backfires on both of them...so ironic.


The satirical cover of Obamesiah rising out of the Willamette was just as obscene to a different demographic. And that didn't torpedo his candidacy. Paul, my guess is the loud protests are by folks looking for something to hang onto as an excuse if he doesn't win. Because if he loses it sure couldn't be for any other reason, right?


Most Democrats I've talked to think the cover is hilarious.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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