Barack Obama | Election 2008 | Magazines | New York | News

New Yorker Under Fire for 'The Politics of Fear' Cover


The New Yorker's cover of Barack and Michelle Obama in Muslim/terrorist garb in the Oval Office has generated a not surprising bundle of controversy. The magazine explained it in a press release: "On the cover of the July 21, 2008, issue of the The New Yorker, in ‘The Politics of Fear,’ artist Barry Blitt satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign."

You may remember that Barry Blitt, who did the cover, also drew the cover of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his "narrow stance" satirizing the Larry Craig scandal.

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

Obama_chicagoObama himself was asked about the cover:

NBC's ATHENA JONES: "The upcoming issue of the New Yorker, the July 21st issue, has a picture of you, depicting you and your wife on the cover. Have you seen it? If not, I can show it to you on my computer. It shows your wife Michelle with an Afro and an AK 47 and the two of you doing the fist bump with you in a sort of turban-type thing on top. I wondered if you’ve seen it or if you want to see it or if you have a response to it?

OBAMA: "Obama (shrugs incredulously): 'I have no response to that.'"

The McCain campaign agreed: "We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive."

Blitt defended his cover: "I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is." Asked whether he regrets it, Blitt responded: "The magazine just came out ten minutes ago, at least give me a few days to decide whether to regret it or not..."

And, if anyone is interested, here's the lengthy article about Obama in this week's issue (photo above from that article)...

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  1. I have been a reader of Towleroad for quite sometime but never commented until now.

    The sad part about this whole story is the question of whether or not the GOP will use this as ammunition? I'm not sure if they will or not but if they do it really won't suprise me.

    I may get blasted for this but thankfully by living in the United States, we have the right to publish such material. Even if we don't agree on it.

    Posted by: Chance | Jul 14, 2008 8:24:05 AM

  2. Tell me about that "liberal" media again.

    Posted by: 1♥ | Jul 14, 2008 8:40:42 AM

  3. It is tasteless & offensive and they shouldn't have published the cover.

    However, I still believe in Obama '08 = $8 a gallon for gas! Recession now, depression later.

    Posted by: RB | Jul 14, 2008 9:01:38 AM

  4. If the target of their "satire" was the folks who believe the Obamas are terrorists, then where is that evident?

    Posted by: Chester | Jul 14, 2008 9:06:54 AM

  5. $8/gallon gas is coming, no matter who is president. Thinking otherwise is akin to believing in unicorns.

    Posted by: scientitian | Jul 14, 2008 9:15:41 AM

  6. Oil speculation would colapse overnight if we would open Anwar and begin drilling. Gas prices WOULD fall. Had Bill Clinton not vetoed Anwar during his presidency gas would have begun to flow into our tanks over two years ago and gas would be at most $2 a gallon now. However, we are now over 70% dependent on foreign oil and paying $4+ and rising.

    That is not believing in unicorns my friend. We have more natural resources, oil, gas, etc, than ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH and we will NOT use them! Obama does not support drilling so he will in fact = $8 a gallon.

    Further, what do you think the bottom tax bracket will do when their taxes increase 5% AND gas is $8 a gallon, milk and bread are $8, etc? Yeah, the "tax cuts for the rich" were not just for the rich and now they cannot afford to purchase food or drive to work. And since public transportation in this country was NEVER intended to take anyone where they actually wanted to go we have NO infrastructure to support such an energy price hike!

    We are not Europe where anyone can get on a train. We are spread out, with little public transportation and survive on the trucking industry for food, jobs etc. so talk to someone else about your damn magical unicorn!

    Posted by: RB | Jul 14, 2008 9:29:39 AM

  7. I think this was an effort to mock the sensationalist b.s. claims from the conservative pundits, but I don't think that comes across fully enough and I think the issues are still too fresh and unsettled for this cover to do its job. Obama is still not a known enough entity to the general public.

    But, I also believe The New Yorker is not that known an entity in middle America and the folks on the coasts and their demographic in between will at least get the joke. What TNY needs to do now is an equally lampooning and offensive cover of McCain, that would take away some of its unintended sting...

    Posted by: Marty | Jul 14, 2008 9:32:33 AM

  8. RB, speculation has little effect on oil prices. Bush's own Department of Energy concluded that the long-term impact of lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling on oil prices would be "insignificant."
    The only way that expanded drilling, offshore and in ANWR, could make a difference at the pump is if global production of oil started significantly outpacing the growth of global demand.
    Which isn't going to happen.

    Posted by: Chester | Jul 14, 2008 9:54:26 AM

  9. RB

    What do you think about mccain's recent statment that he doe NOT support gay adoption? That gays should NOT be allowed to adobt.

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Jul 14, 2008 10:01:28 AM

  10. Michelle Obama as Angela Davis ??
    That's incredibly dangerous and irresponsible of the New Yorker.
    Their greed for attention at the expense of foresight makes one wonder why the magazine decided their hi-brow needed such a poisonous shot of botox.

    Posted by: A.J. | Jul 14, 2008 10:04:32 AM

  11. PS

    Anwar's estimated oil would cover a very few years at best for america per all the experts. Barely a drop in the bucket of need to offset China's ever increasing demand due to industrializng.

    Posted by: Jimmybyo | Jul 14, 2008 10:04:41 AM

  12. Let them know what you think:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Posted by: Mark Winger | Jul 14, 2008 10:08:11 AM

  13. "We have more natural resources, oil, gas, etc, than ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH"

    In the case of oil, that is certainly not true. We have less than 1/10 the reserves of Saudi Arabia. In a best-case scenario, if we drilled in ANWR it would boost US production by 20% (from 21 to 25 billion barrels). That would still be less than 1/10 of the Saudi reserves.

    As to natural gas... Russia has 10 times the US reserves, while tiny Qatar has 5 times as much as we do.

    Back on the topic of the cover, I just think it's funny, and we get the New Yorker, so maybe its demographic will react with a chuckle or a snort.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Jul 14, 2008 10:09:43 AM

  14. Precisely, KEVINVT. The kinda' folks who read/purchase the New Yorker are not the kinda' fools who would believe such nonsense about the Obamas.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 14, 2008 10:22:18 AM

  15. Not sure how cynical I should be about reactions to the cover. It's clearly within the realm of satire (have you seen the Bush covers?) and clearly pro-Obama, so are negative reactions to it a calculated ploy to generate sympathy? Or, has the Obama campaign simply decided that they need to control their candidate's image at all costs? The first rule as a politician is to laugh at editorial cartoons in public, otherwise, you come across as weak, which only invites more cartoons depicting you as a crybaby.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 14, 2008 10:30:45 AM

  16. Jimmyboyo, of course I am not happy with McCain saying that gays should not adopt! You know that I have two kids and my partner has one. I have mentioned that numerous times. However, I have also stated that I have not totally agreed with any ONE candidate that I have supported either. For example I am not happy with Obama's stance on abortion! Neither candidate has a position on kids and family that I support.

    I NEVER voted for W! I do not support him nor his policies. I suppose that I am really a political hybrid. I understand that if I cannot afford to be a parent I would not be able to adopt. It is somewhat like which came first the chicken or the egg. If you cannot afford to be a parent then why are you worried about your rights to adopt?

    It does not matter if you can get married if you cannot afford to live. There has to be a balance and I do not find that in Obama. He wants us to learn to live with less, pay more for energy and NOT work towards energy independence. McCain is not my perfect candidate, but he is closer than Obama. I have also posted that I would cross over and vote for Hillary at this point as she is a BETTER candidate than either of the choices we have before us! This was her election to lose and she lost it! She refused to come out swinging and play hard ball and let this inexperienced left wing liberal take what should have been hers. Another weakness in the dem party. Too politically correct!

    I am capable of looking at all side of the issues, making judgements based upon my beliefs and choosing a candidate. That candidate may be a dem. I voted for Bill Clinton twice, Al Gore and Kerry (I do regret that one). Of course I did so by also voting a straight repub ticket. How many of those posting on Towleroad can say the same? How many here can tell you WHY they are a dem without saying anything more than they are "better for us"? I can. I know that I am against abortion. I know that I am against needle exchange programs and those issues alone bar me from voting for Obama. Remember his speach about his daughters getting pregnant? He would not "burden them" with a child because of a mistake! I cannot support that person. Personal beliefs my friend!

    I maintain an open mind. McCain does not support gay marriage or adoption. Obama does not support gay marriage and does support abortion. Faced with those two options, I will opt for the ability to pay for my own kids eductation and raising as opposed to being "burdened" with higher taxes and fuel costs. Neither options are good and the next president, whomever it may be, will be a one timer. THANK GOD!

    Posted by: RB | Jul 14, 2008 10:46:39 AM

  17. Everyone bitching about the cover is why I hate you people. You're totally missing the point.

    Please all go look up satire in the dictionary. Then die.

    Posted by: JX | Jul 14, 2008 11:09:01 AM

  18. JX, exactly WHERE on this thread do you see people "bitching" about this cover?

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Jul 14, 2008 11:25:51 AM

  19. RB

    i noticed that you never mentioned the leases on 68 million or so acres that the oil industry is currently sitting.

    Posted by: alguien | Jul 14, 2008 12:12:38 PM

  20. As Barry Humphries (AKA Dame Edna) so aptly put it "If you have to explain satire to someone, you might as well give up."

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 14, 2008 12:56:36 PM

  21. RB, this is what Carter said in 1979(!) of solar power: "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a
    museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

    And then your savior made it his first priority to remove the solar panels from the WH and proceeded to completely destroy our domestic energy policy. So if you want to pose questions look no further than the Father of this shitty situation we're in.

    RB, you say that if "Bill Clinton [had] not vetoed ANWR during his presidency gas would have begun to flow into our tanks over two years ago and gas would be at most $2 a gallon now" and you're wrong. If you think a two year supply (at best!) of oil is going to do jack shit I've got a bridge to sell you. And when it's gone then what?

    We WILL have to alter our lifestyles. Your McMansion in the sprawltastic suburbs of ATL is going to cost more to maintain and your SUV is going to cost more to fill. This transition is not going to be painless, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

    Posted by: Jason | Jul 14, 2008 1:06:22 PM

  22. Ha, I love the New Yorker..

    GREAT cover...So simple, yet expressive and live..a mirror of what most Americans fear most...almost sexual and scary at the same time...

    Bravo New Yorker!!!

    Posted by: daveynyc | Jul 14, 2008 1:44:18 PM

  23. RB,

    I'm confused as to what exactly you think McCain would do to stop abortion? Obama is on record as saying that abortions should be legal, safe and RARE. He's not trying to abort anyone, just make sure that women who are raped, poorly educated, have unviable pregnancies, etc. can have an abortion safely. I come from a country where all forms of abortion are illegal and people still have them, except here these women die from backstreet abortions. Obama would at least give them health coverage - McCain would do what? Give them a tax break?

    I couldn't care less whether you vote Blue or Red - if you don't like either of the candidates then vote for a 3rd party, or an independent candidate. This isn't an oligarchy where you vote A, B or Void.

    And I'm still confused as to why you think Obama would bankrupt America? The Democrats have done more to balance the books in the past few years than the Republicans. And Obama may be a "left wing liberal" (is that so bad? liberals with their crazy desires for people to have freedom and choice?) but he also makes centrist overtures that McCain doesn't do often or well.

    I've lived in many US states and in many countries under many politicians and systems, and in my experience Obama is a one-in-a-million find for the US; a superstar. I'm ashamed that you've fallen so hard for the conservative propaganda. Hopefully your kids will know better.

    Posted by: Unicorn | Jul 14, 2008 2:29:54 PM

  24. OF COURSE the cover is tastelesss! That's what Satire is intended to be most of the time. I'm sorry to see BObama showing such thin skin at this because there'll be much worse during the rest of the campaign and once he's elected....Unfortunately, the cover will be taken out of context by the yahoos who wallow in the fantasies being lampooned, who will never read the article it refers to. Now that he's denounced the thing, BObama can't ignore it nor laugh at it. He needs to be a little less Coretta Scott King and a bit more like one of the great Black comedians who have skewered and roasted racist crap by bringing it up front and thrusting it reeking and raunchy in the Collective Faces of all races and classes.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Jul 14, 2008 6:42:54 PM

  25. whatever one views the value of this "satirical" drawing, it is too dangerous an image to display on the cover... it should be inside the magazine where genuine New Yorker readers would be the only ones to see it.

    Posted by: A.J. | Jul 14, 2008 6:52:48 PM

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