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Much Ado About Nothing or did the New Yorker go too far this Time?

Updated on July 15, 2008

I am an avid follower of all things political. My wife refers to me as a "talk radio junkie;" a moniker I will not deny. I do not have the time to read as much as I would like, so I turn on the radio in the morning and let it play most of the day. Today was no exception, and as I tuned in to one of my favorite shows I was made aware of the most recent cover of the New Yorker Magazine.

I am not a subscriber to the New Yorker, nor did I peruse its pages often. I am aware of the premise behind the magazine- which is primarily political satire- and while I do enjoy good satire, the most recent cover on the magazine truly took me by surprise.

As I listened to the political pundits carry on about the "satirical" portrayal of Barak Obama and his wife Michelle I found myself questioning the method behind the madness. Was this just a low class attempt to sell magazines, or was the New Yorker tapping into something much deeper than it ever intended?

Whether the lever you pull in the voting booth has an elephant or a donkey above it, it is difficult to ignore the national media's willingness to overlook the many gaffs that have come from Mr. Obama. Look no further than his comments in Oregon when Mr. Obama said of his long campaign, "I've been in fifty-seven states, I think, one left to go."

I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't heard about it. If this had been John McCain, or George W. Bush, however, I dare say the press would still be talking about it.

Anyone remember Dan Quail? The media ran that story into the ground. And don't for one minute think that they were merely attempting to perform a public service to help us poor Midwesterners remember how to spell potato. I spent four years in college in Indiana around that time, and I can tell you Dan Quail is highly regarded by the good people of the Hoosier state.

Campaign Stop in Oregon


So what about the New Yorker's most recent cover? Does it offend you? In a statement Monday, July 14th, the magazine said the cover "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are."


I have heard the speculation about Mr. Obama's Muslim up-bringing. If being raised a Muslim makes you Muslim for life, then I guess my being raised in a Wesleyan church would make me a Wesleyan for life. How then do I explain to my loving parents I now attend a Baptist church? Even the casual onlooker would conclude the lifestyle the Obamas lead does not give the appearance of people who are devout Muslims.

In an attempt to further clarify the rationale behind the cover art, the New Yorker went on to say, "The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover."

Is this what the editors at the New Yorker think non-supporters see when they look at the Obamas? I know many people here in Georgia who do not support Mr. Obama. Their reasons vary, but they have nothing to do with his race or religion- and everything to do with his ideology. Are these non-supporters racists? Apparently, many in the main-stream media, the New Yorker notwithstanding, would like us to so believe.

So what can we expect on next month's cover of the New Yorker? Will we see an enraged, bed-ridden geriatric John McCain clutching a bottle of Budweiser as he watches a History Channel special on the Vietnam War? Will his much younger, attractive "trophy-wife" be standing by his bedside with a longing in her eyes and a bottle of Viagra at the ready?

As the presidential election draws closer I think it is safe to assume things are only going to intensify. Just wait until vice-presidential selections are announced!

I will be an astute observer as we make our way to November, but in the meantime, will someone please pass me the potatoe chips? I'm getting the munchies.


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    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Joer4x4-  We are in agreement.  When Obama is not reading from a teleprompter he stammers like a high school freshman giving his first speech in speech class.  I wonder who is pulling his strings behind the curtain...

      Curdman- (love the profile pick!) I'm not sure that all of the (not so) subtle images on the cover are believed by most of the people who listen to the on-air personalities that make these assertations.  I just wish people would do a little research and make an informed decision in the voting booth, instead of voting down party lines, or for the candidate with the best rhetoric.  Character does matter.  Thanks for the comments both of you...   

    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      You are right on Michelle! I think what gets to me most is how any one can toss out an allegation in the media and the so called "journalist" conducting the interview will allow the statement to go unchallenged.  And then all of the other media outlets will pick up on the story and run it was well, with no verification of validity! 

    • Curdman profile image


      10 years ago from Lawrence, KS

      I just started laughing when I saw that picture. While the majority of people with or against his election to the Presidential Office don't believe the crap they say, the New Yorker has put together an accurate collection of the things people have said with a serious tone about him, and someone must believe them because those people are still on the air and make a very large yearly salary.

    • joer4x4 profile image


      10 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Considering Obama's past I can see it as a metaphor for his political career and possibly justified. You have to look past the costumes. It is not what is portrayed but how he got to where he is now. In that sense the shoe fits. But to get at it you have to do a lot of research and pay close attention how he address people and what he says. You have to pick out what's coached and what's not.

      Obama might be lacking in the experience for president, but he is a shrewed, snaky politician with no values. He's all about Obama. 

    • Michelle Reed profile image

      Michelle Reed 

      10 years ago from Kansas

      It is unfortunate that the media does this, but really they have been doing it for a long time. People are not interested in the truth, they are interested in what causes an action/reaction. It's the same as how we are all fascinated with blood and gore. Look at how traffic slows down after an accident for people to get a GOOD look at what happened.

      Bill Clinton did a lot of wonderful things for this country while in office, however, all people seem to talk about is his indiscretion in the oval office. What a shame. If somone on the street gets a wild hair up their &^% and states out loud that they heard from a friend of a guy that is dating a girl that is the third cousin of a neighbor, that Obama is really gay and his marriage is a show for publicity, it would make headlines around the world.

      Whether Obama was a muslim is no longer a factor, it has been slung into the campaign arena, so people will believe it. An issue I read a little while back about how his parents history clearly does not meet the requirements of American citizenship as stated in our Constitution for the requirements of running for the office of President didn't cause as much reaction from the press and citizens, but a satiric picture sure did. People amaze me.

      I love the pun at the end, I remember when that happened too and it was all the media could do to put the man in an "idiot" spotlight for making a spelling error. Makes you so proud of the media being perfect and better than everyone else, huh?

      I am really tired of playing a yo-yo game trying to decide whom to vote for, I would really love to just pencil in Mickey Mouse and punch a hole!

    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      My humor is sometimes a little too subtle. Thanks for being such an alert reader. :-)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      "I will be an astute observer as we make our way to November, but in the meantime, will someone please pass me the potatoe chips?"

      I just got that! Cute!

    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      In order for satire to work it must contain, at the very least, an element of truth.  The New Yorker can conclude one thing, "Mission Accomplished."

    • sschilke profile image


      10 years ago

      Stay at home dad,

      I loved it. The New Yorker shouldn't apologize to anybody. I found it all kind of funny and over the top.

      Great hub.


    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      So true Sally. If we can't laugh at ourselves, well, we are probably very unhappy people. While, I have no quam with McCain, well except his position on illegal immigration, (but that's for another hub) I was laughing out loud as I conjured up the image of him clutching that bottle of Bud. I just wish I had the artistic talent to put the words into art.

      HC, I really love your passion.

      Unfortunately, as RichardSpeaks noted above, there are people who have no knowledge of what the New Yorker is all about and will be offended by the cover.

      My main point behind writing this hub was to point out media bias. Why is there an immediate outcry whenever Obama is criticized, or something is written that could be construed as negative or critical, but lampoon a republican or conservative candidate and that is admired as great satire. The bias in the media is glaring.

      I, like you, agree that the best way to drive the message home is to turn off the TV. If enough people would do so, and ratings dropped significantly, changes would be made. Look for more on this subject soon...

    • Health Conscious profile image

      Health Conscious 

      10 years ago from South Florida - USA

      Why is this satire any different from countless Lowe drawings of the last 8 years. Apparently there are always enough who think it is funny or these type things would not continue to sell media.

      Of course, everyone could decide to make the media pay for their actions by not buying, reading or listening and letting them know why.

      I started doing this during Katrina footage on CNN, I refuse to watch and have let them know, especially Anderson Cooper. His actions were pitiful, whining drivel. Rather than stand up and help with the most advanced communication gear available, he chose to act like a shell shocked wimp and whine about everyone not showing up everywhere within seconds. He had the gear and transportation to really make a difference, but he only whined, hoping for an award for being there.

      Having been involved with multiple much smaller type disasters, it amazes me that no one seems to understand the shear enormity of the situation and how well it was actually handled. I guess hearing over and over that it was a snafu makes it so.

      I am proud and applaud all those who dedicated their time and effort.

      And I refuse to listen to all the BS.

      You all have the power to change the way campaigns are run. They only do it because they believe it works. If enough let them know how they feel, it will change.

      The American way is to do not to cry.

      If you don't like it say so, not to me, to the media source and the campaigns themselves.

      Just remember you do have to back it up by not actually buying, watching or reading their media or voting for them afterwards. That's the catch 22.

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 

      10 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      If you have ever watched "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader," you'll understand that such satire does not come across as satire to the average person. As he/she walks past the news stand, first impression is more than likely "I knew it!" He/she won't stop to decipher the hidden meanings. He/she doesn't read the New Yorker on any kind of a regular basis; consequently, it is just one more visual mind byte that lets him/her know that his/her fears are substantiated. That's why 39% of those polled still believe that Obama attended a midrassa school in Indonesia, which is of course false. I believe the New Yorker did the Obama campaign a disservice. In having to explain the humor, and having a hard time of it, the New Yorker supports my point.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      What's next, you ask?  Can you stay at home and still take on the post of Cover Creative Director for The New Yorker?  Oh I wish, I wish, I wish!  Because I want to see the McCain version.

      I'm a radio junkie myself and heard about the cover and listened to the back-and-forth before I saw it.  I have to admit my jaw did drop just a tad bit.  But, somebody had to come up with that image, it was inevitable. 

      Satire critics are saying that the genre is heating up to boiling right about now.  And if you follow JibJab animations, you can watch the launch of their 2008 election video, tonight, July 15, on the Jay Leno show.  I can't imagine this video won't be just as eyebrow-raising or jaw-dropping as The New Yorker cover.

      Thanks for a smart hub!

      Regards, S. 

    • Stay at Home Dad profile imageAUTHOR

      Stay at Home Dad 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Two excellent comments. 

      HC, I agree with you that the media has outdone itself in the area of attempting to make perception into reality.  And the fact that their bias normally slants left inspired me to write this post.

      Christy, perfectly stated.  Most objective people will admit the media's bias, yet they erroneously equate not supporting Obama (and being white) to racism.  It is ludicrous.  What is next?  If I disagree with Joe Lieberman am I anti-Semitic?

      Thanks for reading...        

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      You could not be more right! Obama's race and/or religion have nothing to do with my not supporting him. While I might have found the satire humorous, but distasteful, this is not what I picture if he were to be elected President. None of the "issues" shown in the picture were reasons why I will not vote for him when it comes time for me to cast my vote. There are many political issues that are being ignored. I would like the media and the democrats to understand that just because I do not vote for Obama does not make me racist or prejudice.

      The New Yorker, on the other hand, will do anything for publicity and to sell magazines. They will equally criticize republicans and democrats. This was a little over the top, though.

    • Health Conscious profile image

      Health Conscious 

      10 years ago from South Florida - USA

      He is reaping that which was sown for someone else.

      The Hilary club was so effective in the tactics of the last 6 years of repeating altered perceptions and getting so many to believe them as reality.

      This tactic has proven itself so effective that everyone is using it. Just keep repeating total BS and it will be believed.

      Maybe the next time everyone believes that Bush Is evil incarnate they will realize that the same can work in the reverse.

      The opposite can still be proven, if everyone starts to really think for themselves then this kind of garbage will have no effect.

      The talking heads are all out to get awards, the truth be damned.

      Speaking of that trophy wife of McCain, check out everything she does and you will see just how much of a trophy a lucky man can get.


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