There are times when people say that the media are all the same, a giant monolith with One True Agenda. “Don’t trust what you read, they’re all liars and crooks,” you’ll often hear. When someone bemoans the state of the American press and its uniform viewpoint, just point out today’s coverage of this week’s New Yorker cover cartoon. The Daily News places the story on page one, with the headline “NOT SO FUNNY.” The Post has a small piece on the controversy in its campaign coverage on page 8.
So, what’s the controversy? The cover of the magazine features a cartoon Michelle and Barack Obama fist-bumping in the Oval Office. (You may remember the fist-bump as that terrible “terrorist” handshake Fox News was all outraged over a few weeks ago.) Michelle Obama has an Angela Davis-esque afro and an assault rifle slung over her shoulder while Barack is decked out in Islamic dress. An American flag burns in the fireplace, and above the mantle is a portrait of Osama Bin Laden. So, is it offensive to the Obama campaign?
If you read the Post‘s story, the answer is, “Well, kinda.” The Daily News version is more of a “hell yeah it is.” Let’s compare and contrast.
First, the Post‘s lead asks the question, “Satire or outrage?” and then describes the cover. The first mention of any Obama campaign response is “Obama shrugged and said he had no response when reporters asked him about the cover yesterday,” in the fifth paragraph. Only after that bit of information does the piece include Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton’s outraged reaction to the cartoon.
The Daily News, on the other hand, leads with the outrage:
“Barack Obama’s campaign lashed out yesterday at the editors of The New Yorker magazine for a cartoon cover that depicts the Democratic candidate and his wife as fist-bumping terrorists.
“The magazine’s editor described the cartoon, called ‘The Politics of Fear,’ as satire. The Obama campaign called it ‘tasteless and offensive.'”
It’s not until the second-to-last paragraph that the News notes, “Obama brushed off the brouhaha. ‘I have no response to that,’ he told reporters when asked about the cover, but his supporters are infuriated.”
See, it’s all a matter of perspective. So I ask you commenters the same question the Post posed in its piece: satire or outrage?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 14, 2008