Hendrik Hertzberg –
the editor if political commentator for The New Yorker – is on MSNBC right now explaining away this cover. He says the point of the illustration is to make fun of the misinformation out there about Obama.
What he’s missing is that the general population won’t read The New Yorker and won’t “get” the irony. What they will get is a free anti-Obama poster to pin up and pass around – courtesy of a “respected” magazine.
Mr. Hertzberg, you’re not helping.
(Bill, you are. Thanks for the correction)
2 thoughts on “Cover Story”
The artist and the editor(s) that signed off on this were clearly intending to be controversial. Beyond satire, they were looking to break out of the mold, and generate a reaction, create a buzz, which they definitely did, although I doubt this is quite what they hoped for. Perhaps it is.
One thing though, the cover wasn’t created by the artist with the intention of being plastered all over the nets so the “low-information-voters” could see it and guffaw about it. It’s geared toward an audience that will see it as a thought-provoking encapsulation of all the rightwing smears, not as one itself, because that’s always the New Yorker’s niche. That’s why the grocery stores put the Enquirer and not the New Yorker out on the checkout aisle. It’s not normally meant to be seen by hoi polloi. It certainly wasn’t created with the intent of being put up on Joe Dirt’s blog so they can hahahaha at it, but it no doubt will be. That’s what’s changed in the past decade or two that makes putting this out there all the more wrong.
From my perspective, after I concede that I do agree with most of the complaints about it that I’ve seen written about it, at the same time I see it less satirical than it is mocking. It’s clearly trying to consolidate and exaggerate all of the rightwing bullshit that’s been circulating about the Obamas since day one.
Had this cover ran 20 years ago, before the image could be so easily grabbed and used by those same wingnuttier websites (looking at you, Larry Johnson) that have been perpetrating these rumors and character assassinations, it would have played more like the artist and the editors at the New Yorker had intended. The problem is the internet has magnified the impact of this type of imagery, especially in our political arena. Umpteen-fold more people will see that cover without ever reading a word inside it than a decade or two ago.
On that note, at the very least I expected that Ryan Lizza’s article inside actually dealt with the subject of the issues brought out by the picture — full disclosure, I’ve not had the chance to read it yet as it’s like a 1,000 pages long (I did scroll through part of it. lol) but David Corn has and it doesn’t look like it does at all.
All that said, I wonder what the end game will be from it. Could it be that by encapsulating all of these (not so) slights in an image that has already been so universally panned, it could actually yield a positive net effect? I actually think it might. Assuming it generates as much media attention as I believe it will for a day or more unless something really big knocks it. I expect now that most every 24/7 cable news shows are bringing it up for discussion where it gets near-universally trashed left/right/center. I think it may just help set in stone that this shit is over the limit in a way that might be able to reach critical mass by actually getting it through even to enough of those “low-information-voters.”
Also, I believe Hertzberg is a political columnist at the New Yorker.
If I’m not mistaken, David Remnick, who was on CNN’s Situation Room this afternoon, is the magazine’s editor.
After seeing how much attention it’s getting I really do think in the long run this winds up helping Obama.