Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker's Obama Cover

One of the greatest dangers facing those who passionately support a presidential candidate is not only that they may lose all sense of humor, but that they also can become blinded to unexpected opportunities that come their way. So it seems, today, with the sudden storm over The New Yorker cover which we reproduced earlier here (and to the left here).

Take Kevin Drum, for instance, Atrios, and whoever is writing today for The Playground. Each of these blogs understands that The New Yorker cover is a satire. They see, too, as Andrew Sullivan and Aziz Poonawalla do, that the joke is on the mass media more than anyone else.

As Laura Flanders told CNN, "This isn't a jab at [the Obamas]... . This is a jab at the media. ... It should be cause for our conversation to focus on the kind of fear mongering that the media and people on the right have engaged in."

Say that again... "the kind of fear mongering that the media and people on the right have engaged in."

The only unfunny thing we see in all of the ab-reactions to the cartoon cover, from the Left as well as the Right, is that for too many of them this is the only time they have so much as mentioned The New Yorker in the past seven years, much less given it air time or ink. Yet, the New Yorker has been peerless in being out in front of nearly every news medium -- print or electronic, and certainly far ahead of the chattering heads on Cable TeeVee -- in exposing with devastating regularity the many criminal and criminally negligent acts of the Bush administration; from Seymour M. Hersh's coverage of the Iraq War and the Bush administration's incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina to the miserable state to which our political culture has sunk over the past decade and James Surowiecki's keen insights into everything from the collapse of Enron to the then-"coming" oil crisis.

How can it be that the self-same chattering TeeVee heads are now cluck-clucking like high priests over a mildly satirical magazine cover that simply holds a mirror up to their very own right-wing fantasies of what constitutes 'news'? Do they not recognize the image of their own journalistic judgments staring back at them?

As Laura Flanders says, that should be the topic of the day -- for Kevin Drum, Atrios, the Obama campaign, and even the MSM. "What has the news media done," they should be asking, "that it can inspire such satire?"

Dept. of Amplification

New Yorker editor David Remick in an interview with the Huffngton Post, explains that normally he wouldn't be explaining a cover of The New Yorker. But today he does:
The fact is, it's not a satire about Obama - it's a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama.
As cited in the issue's table of contents, the title of the cover drawing by Barry Blitt is "The Politics of Fear."

Daily Heller puts up some recent New Yorker covers and then asks, "Now, class, What is satire?


Anonymous said...

I'm going to link to you at my place over this absurdity.

How can two members of the nearly extinct species of Florida liberals living on the "Redneck Riviera" see the cover as satire of the absurd lies told about Obama, but the those in safe, progressive enclaves like the Northeast and California miss the point?

I have to assume they have never been even occasional readers of the New Yorker and Mad Magazine is the only form of "satire" they recognize.

Anonymous said...

As a subscriber, and avid reader of the New Yorker, I will say that I have been amazed at the reaction to that cover while reading through some of the progressive/liberal blogs, and more than a little disheartened.

While most of those you mentioned in your write up got it right in their posts, their readers are in need of some enlightenment.

I loved the cover, saw it for what it was immediately, but when I read the Obama campaigns reaction, as well as some of those who say they support him, I can only sigh with disappointment.

Another missed opportunity, Senator Obama. This could have been a wonderful media moment for you, but you missed it.

Too bad.

Your post is most excellent, btw.

SM said...

Found you through Jon Swift - right on, fellow beach-dwelling Floridian (except I'm on the other coast). I'll be back.

Madison Perry said...

I have a question about this post. Will you please email me at when you get a chance. Thank you in advance.