Monday, July 14, 2008

New Yorker Cover: We Gasp as The New Yorker Grasps

A moment of silence, please, before we join the general horror over this week’s New Yorker cover...

In case you’re living in a bomb shelter somewhere and haven’t yet seen the magazine in question, here it is:

We needed to pause before our snarkfest because it feels really slimy to allow ourselves to be manipulated in this way. But then, why shouldn't we chatter? Why shouldn't we participate in the howl of general outrage when the cover was developed SPECIFICALLY to get us all going – and thereby sell magazines?

Don’t believe the claims of "irony" and “hold[ing] up a mirror to the prejudice," and "prissy humorless public," blah blah blah. The bottom line is... the bottom line: The magazine has intentionally probed our most sensitive national wounds – race and terrorism – just to make a buck.

How deeply offensive is it? Well, some here at TR Central say it wasn’t as bad as the noose on the cover of Golf Digest about a sports announcer’s lynching comment in relation to Tiger Woods. Using an actual noose gave people permission to think it’s okay to laugh about killing black people, says our TR staffer.

And besides, Golf Week fired the most senior editor responsible and put forth this apology:

A letter to our readers: ‘We’re sorry’

Dear Golfweek reader,

We’re sorry. We made a grievous error.

The graphic image of a noose in the Jan. 19 issue of Golfweek offended our readers, customers, advertisers and people who’d never previously heard of our magazine. For that, we sincerely apologize.

The decision to publish this cover image, which was intended to illustrate a story about the much-talked-about suspension of Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman for a controversial comment said during the Mercedes-Benz Championship, caused an outcry of harsh criticism. It was a story placed on the cover after dedicating four pages of thorough, balanced reporting to the subject.

We made a big mistake. Dave Seanor, the editor who chose the cover image, was fired. (Senior management above Seanor did not view the cover before it was published.) And Golfweek’s solid reputation built on more than 30 years of being a leading publication was damaged.

No organization can experience adversity such as this and remain unchanged; so it is for Golfweek. We are examining our policies, procedures and practices to ensure sensitivity, responsibility and adherence. And we are recommitting ourselves to being golf’s news leader and to covering the many facets of a game so many of you love. We share that passion for the game and what it represents.

There are no degrees to offending people. We now begin a new mission to re-earn your trust. To restore your loyalty. To regain your confidence. And we move ahead determined that an episode like this one will not happen again. We hope that you will not dismiss three decades of diligent and dedicated work with one bad choice.

Please accept our apology.

Thank you.

William P. Kupper Jr.
Turnstile Publishing Co.
Posted: 1/20/2008

This New Yorker reminds me of the old Tina Brown Vanity Fair days. Do you remember the weeks of controversy generated by the cover of Demi Moore naked and pregnant? Doesn’t it seem quaint in comparison? Yes, it sold magazines, but it only poked a finger into celebrity exhibitionism, not the faultlines of race, terrorism and their impact on the future of a nation.

Many are calling for equally appalling covers of other political figures. One of my favorites comes from America’s Blog:

Their (sic) next cover should be an incontinent McCain lying on the floor of the Oval Office with a broken hip and a life alert pendant around his neck. And as he fell to the ground he accidently pressed the button and launched a nuclear attack on Iran. And out of the window you can see Rumsfeld and Cheney hooking up electrodes to the genitals of every Democrat in the country - right there on the White House lawn!! Ha Ha, now THAT would be HILARIOUS and completely ok for a mainstream, reputable publication to print on its cover!!

Folks – Does David Remnick need attention THIS badly? When the venerable old New Yorker tarts itself up like an aging courtesan, we all should weep.


Anonymous said...

Hail to the Queen - the cover is beyond the pale. I listened to an NPR interview today with the NYorker correspondent whose piece (I think) this cover represents..."how Obama's Chicago roots shaped him") and it has no correlation to this illustration. The New Yorker owes a big apology to its readers and the Obama family who sadly will have to see this cartoon over and over again as BHO's opponents gleefully seize it to further their attacks. Sigh.

Pamela said...

Please, people! The New Yorker is simply returning to its roots. It began in the 1920s as the "bad boy" of literature. And, talk about Gonzo journalism. At a time when general interest magazine subscriptions and newsstand sales are plummeting, The New Yorker is literally "The Talk of the Town." Betcha this issue flies off the newsstands.

Gloria said...

It would be humorous/satirical, if it didn't tragically reinforce the beliefs of many many people.

The Stop ACLU blog wrote:

We can only hope that this shocking New Yorker cover takes on a life of its own, and is seen by millions of potential Obama supporters. Maybe, just maybe, where our thousands of words have failed, a picture can succeed.

An Obama White House is the very worst thing that could happen to our already vulnerable nation. We can only hope that this one inflammatory picture will help to seal his political doom

Anonymous said...

Wow, Pam, I never knew the NYer was the "bad boy of journalism" in the 1920s. I wish that David Remnick has said THAT in his interviews (and carefully orchestrated blog-based PR campaign) -- rather than "what? you can't take a joke."

Also -- the real tragedy here is that lack of substantive attention to Obama's NYT op-ed yesterday that detailed his Iraqi strategy. Yes, McCain tagged onto the news cycle with a press conference, and a NYT/ABC news poll trumpeted today showed Americans are evenly split on both plans.

But the media - and the blogosphere -- were so distracted by the stupid NYer cover that we got very little useful commentary on an important moment.

Anonymous said...

A McCain version of the NYer cover from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Here's a link.