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The New Yorker's 'Terrorist Fist Jab' Cover: Mountain or Molehill?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 14, 2008 3:10PM

2008_07_14_NewYorkerObama.jpgWe haven't even started in on our morning coffee and already Chicago's Presidential Candidate is in the headlines for a new controversy. Unlike last week, though, this one is not of Obama's doing. Barry Blitt's cover for the July 21 issue of the New Yorker, titled, "The Politics of Fear," purports to satirize the recent Fox News "terrorist fist jab" controversy, but it's created quite a commotion within the Obama campaign, which has been working overtime to dispel the myths about their candidate that have been widely circulating in recent months.

Blitt defended the cover in an email to The Huffington Post. "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." The Huff-Po also has a few of Blitt's other controversial covers (including our personal favorite, the post-Katrina "Deluged"). Officially, both campaigns have dismissed the cover as "tasteless." Obama 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."
A McCain spokesman echoed this sentiment, saying, "We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it's tasteless and offensive." And the candidate? When confronted with the cover in a San Diego press conference, Obama said, "I have no response to that."

What's more interesting, though completely unsurprising, is the way the controversy is overshadowing the accompanying Ryan Lizza article, "Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama." Among other tidbits, the article touches on Obama's relationship with Tony Rezko and explores Obama's role as a strategist for G-Rod's first gubernatorial bid. It remains to be seen if the actual content of the article will garner any attention in the mainstream media, or if the 24 hour news cycle will simply devour the cover "controversy" with great bluster and move on to the next imbroglio.