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)...

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. It was a misstep for the Obama campaign to come out so strongly against this cover. It's clear that the cover is pro-Obama, not anti. It's quite clearly satire, aimed at the Republican machine, not Barack. To lump all of the negative stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding him into one image is to show how ludicrous those stereotypes and misconceptions are. Now he smacks of the over-sensitive liberal, which is exactly the brush conservatives want to paint him with. Barack, the New Yorker is your friend. You'd be wise to remember that, and pick bigger battles to fight.

    Posted by: Kevin | Jul 14, 2008 7:06:28 PM

  2. "Barack, the New Yorker is your friend. You'd be wise to remember that, and pick bigger battles to fight."

    I don't think he really picked this battle, it picked him, when he was asked about it. To respond that he thought it was a great cover, sharp satire indeed, would have been the true misstep, alas, even if he saw the humor in it. I'd like to hope that any sane person would recognize that the cover is pointing out the ridiculousness of the smear tactics against Obama via obvious satire, but that remains to be seen.

    "McCain does not support gay marriage or adoption. Obama does not support gay marriage and does support abortion."

    RB, I respect your reasons for currently preferring McCain over Obama, even as I completely disagree with them (as a strong supporter of abortion rights, for instance). At least, unlike most posters here, you do give reasons. But I think lumping McCain and Obama together on gay marriage is gross oversimplification, when Obama, like Hillary, strongly supports greater equality for gay people in our unions whereas McCain, at best, won't interfere with state decisions, even tho he's on record against NH CUs and has supported the failed anti-marriage amendment in AZ as well as the CA amendment. Maybe your views on other issues will take priority (tho I hope you'll keep that open mind), but I think you're doing a bit of whitewashing re: their "marriage" positions.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 14, 2008 7:56:30 PM

  3. If you want to see some crazy statistics, check out wingnutdaily's poll:

    Apparently 60% of their readers actually believe the cartoon "isn't too far from the dangerous truth about the Obama family"

    Why are Americans such idiots? (and I ask this as an American)

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Jul 14, 2008 7:59:20 PM

  4. This is obviously a satirical cover ,I saw the illustrator's previous work and his goal seems to be taking on misconceptions and pre concieved ideas rather than making a personal statement. As for the 'lack of liberal media' which some readers claim, that is complete bull and I say this as a liberal. Obama may not advocate oil drilling, but he is an advocate for alternative fuels which is a direction which we need to take to preserve the planet and the economy. I am just so sick of people saying and believing these unfounded things about Obama, I was and am a Hillary fan, But Obama is a hell of a lot better than Mccain.
    ..ive said my piece

    Posted by: Dana | Jul 14, 2008 11:48:26 PM

  5. The reaction to the New Yorker cover has been absurd.

    If there is still someone out there who a) has never heard the rumor that the Obamas are America-hating Black separatist Muslim terrorists, but b) would believe as much if he heard it--is it really very likely that the cover of The New Yorker will provide his first exposure to those ideas?

    The idea that it is racist is nonsense: the Afro and fist-bump are not generalized racial caricatures, but rather direct allusions to specific accusations leveled at the Obamas. The right's coöption of each concept is fair game for satire, and it's not clear how artist Barry Blitt could have depicted them in a non-racially specific way.

    I have much more to say on these subjects here.

    Posted by: Holy Prepuce | Jul 15, 2008 9:47:01 AM

  6. seems the new yorker under estimated the stupidity of the american public.

    Posted by: kt | Jul 19, 2008 4:31:21 PM

  7. « 1 2

Post a comment


« «Rearview Mirror: Looking Back at the Week on Towleroad« «