New Yorker Editor David Remnick Talks to ABC News About Cover Controversy

I just interviewed New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick for World News with Charles Gibson about the controversial cover of this week's New Yorker."The intent of the cover is to satirize the vicious and racist attacks and rumors and misconceptions about the Obamas that have been floating around in the blogosphere and are reflected in public opinion polls," Remnick says. "What we set out to do was to throw all these images together, which are all over the top and to shine a kind of harsh light on them, to satirize them. That’s part of what we do."But what about the fact that some folks see the images not as a satirical caricature but as an accurate portrait? About one out of 10 Americans continue to believe that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is a Muslim, after all."Satire always comes with some risk and the chance of people misunderstanding it, but if you’re going to satirize things only that there’s a 100% census on, there’s no satire," he said. "There’s maybe a certain percentage of the public that thinks there was no moon landing, should we not satirize that?"What about the fact that Sen. Obama and his campaign seem legitimately upset? "A journalistic enterprise, whether it’s ABC or the New Yorker or the New York Times does not publish or broadcast for the sake of a political campaign," Remnick said. "I wish they understood it for what it was, but I can’t sit here and adjust what I do with an editor any more than ABC should adjust what it does as a network to please a political campaign." Remnick added that when he heard senior Obama adviser David Axelrod this morning "talking about it, he said, 'Did I like the cover? No. Am I very upset about it? No. I’m much more upset about real issues in the country.' That to me, that to me seemed like a sensible disagreement."Remnick also took issue with one part of my blog post on the subject yesterday. I wrote that "the sophisticates at The New Yorker have come up with a cover that is sure to get the magazine a lot of attention... no Upper East Side liberal -- no matter how superior they feel their intellect is -- should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing. .. I would assume over at the Conde Nast building, they think it's droll. " Mr. Remnick took some umbrage with that. Not with the criticism per se, but my working-class tone. "Playing the elitism card, when you, too, are from New York, and went to Dartmouth, I mean, that really doesn’t wash," Remnick told me. "I think it’s an easy card to play. Especially with the New Yorker, and, you know, I shouldn’t let you get away with it. You’re not exactly coming from a poor background or from an underfunded media outlet, and I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s just not the level of thought and discourse that normally I see on your blog, and lot of other ones....I get the back and forth, I can live with that, but I thought that was kind of a cheap shot."Remnick was not the only one to take issue with that part of my blog. (As "TBogg" wrote at FireDogLake, regarding "the New Yorker cover outrage du jour, Jake Tapper leaves his lunch pail in the truck, orders a shot and a beer at the bar, pulls a bandanna from the pocket of his work pants, wipes the sweat and grime from his face and neck ... Jake is making a play for Tim Russert's ' just a blue collar guy ' crown.")- jpt

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