Past Event

Obama and the New Yorker: Has the Left Gone Right, Out of Their Mind?

Last week the cover of the left-leaning New
magazine featured a cartoon image of Barack and Michelle Obama. They
were dressed exactly as right-wing political operatives have encouraged the
electorate to imagine them: the terrorist and the Black Nationalist, defiling
the White House. While editor David Remnick and artist Barry Blitt say that the
image was their attempt at classic New Yorker satire, there were many
voices in the news media that vehemently denounced it. The backlash even
extended to John McCain, who rebuked the characterization.

Oddly enough, the image on the front cover was
connected to a scathing article on the current nature of political campaigns in
the United States. According to commentators, the article lambastes those on the
right who dare offer such ludicrous depictions of the presumptive Democratic
nominee and his wife. The article even situates the current political moment
within a larger trend of Republican political campaigns using fear instead of
hope to drive people to the voting booth. The purpose of the image and article
was clear to its publishers: to ridicule the images used by the right, thereby
stripping them of their political cache.

However, critics argue that by presenting such an
image of the Obamas without context or explanation, the New Yorker
actually helped perpetuate the misinformation that has been spread in this
campaign. If people did not read the accompanying article, they might not get
the joke. Others also said that though the New Yorker was aiming for
irony, they widely missed the mark, and only succeeded in creating a crude

Do you find the New Yorker
cover offensive? When does satire cross the line into defamation? Is it possible
to use satire effectively in the modern age of political correctness? Or are
extreme characterizations of political opponents-satirical or not-just part of
the modern electoral process?

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