Down Right Slander...or Marketing Ploy?


I’m sure that by now most people are aware or have at least heard about the July issue of the New Yorker magazine. Now, I’m not trying to get all political (even though you have to admit that this coming election is like none other and is enticing to even the most nonpolitically affiliated people, such as myself), but for all those that aren’t familiar with why this issue of the New Yorker has caused such a stir, especially in the political circuit, I’m going to give you an overview of what happened.

The magazine’s cover art depicts the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Barack Obama, and his wife in an extremely anti-American cartoon. Illustrator Barry Blitt drew the Illinois senator wearing traditional Muslim garb while his wife, is in fatigues, sporting a big afro, and has a rifle slung over her shoulder, while they are engaging in the now infamous “fist bump” – which has been getting a lot of attention and negative feedback for reasons that I don’t understand. To add to the insulting caricature, a portrait of Osama Bin Laden hangs on the wall of what appears to be the Oval Office - above the fireplace in which an American flag is burning.

Barack Obama is now responding to the cover, calling it an unsuccessful attempt at satire that will likely fuel misconceptions he has long battled over the course of his presidential campaign, as reported by CNN.com. "It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment," Obama said. "And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it."

Now, being that I am a college student who is a marketing major and am now interning at a marketing firm, my immediate thoughts about the cartoon may be a little different then the general public’s thoughts. First Amendment or not, to depict a Presidential candidate in such a way, choose sides, and potentially impact voters – in my opinion, is very disrespectful and unethical. But, with that said, maybe that was the whole point. Maybe the New Yorker isn’t trying to choose sides, but merely trying to draw attention to their magazine, because as we all know controversy sells. And it is quite obvious that nothing is more significant and deserves more attention and media coverage than this November’s presidential election. So as the editor of a magazine, wouldn’t you create some sort of controversy surrounding the most important matter in the American public’s eye? I’m sure that most people would, but is being unethical the only way to go?..... What do you think?