>New Yorker cover: political satire or tasteless commentary?

This is the latest cover of The New Yorker, which has caused controversy. The Sen. Obama camp has called the cartoon offensive, but the magazine’s editor defended the use of the cartoon on its cover.

From CNN.com’s political ticker:

David Remnick, the longtime editor of the highly-regarded publication, said he believes the ironic intent of the illustration will be clear to most Americans.

“The idea is to attack lies and misconceptions and distortions about the Obamas, and their background and their politics. We’ve heard all of this nonsense about how they’re supposedly insufficiently patriotic, or soft on terrorism,” he said. “That somehow the fist bump is something that it’s not. And we try to put all of these images in one cover, and to satirize and shine a really harsh light on something that could be incredibly damaging.”

I’m slightly on the fence with this issue. While I understand the magazine’s intent (to bring to light blatant misconceptions people have of Obama–and to draw more readers), I don’t understand why it would continue to fan the flames of these lies about Obama.

According to the entry at CNN, it wasn’t the first time the New Yorker has had a controversial cover. It recently had a cover of Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad appearing to solicit gay sex in a bathroom.

Remnick further explains:

“I think you underestimate the intelligence of the American people, to be quite honest. Yes, there will be some people who will misunderstand it, not get it at first,” he said. “But here we are on television, discussing something that’s been a kind of subterranean theme in American politics, which is disgusting — these lies about Barack Obama, about Michelle Obama. And so in fact we’re not even satirizing the Obamas, we’re satirizing these rumors, the lies that have fed into the politics of fear.”

Remnick also defended his publication’s use of satire in general, likening it to the work of popular television hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

“If there’s no possibility for satire, if you always have to look for the joke that every — absolutely everyone will get, you won’t have Jon Stewart, you won’t have Stephen Colbert,” he said. “Stephen Colbert goes on and mocks right-wing commentary by pretending to be a right-wing commentary. In a way this is Colbert in print.”

I’m a fan of satire, and believe me, I thoroughly enjoy it from commentators. However, this cover begs the question: Why would a respectable magazine such as the New Yorker would stoop so low to jump into the satire business? I’m certain that a magazine of this magnitude could have conjured up satire that was more tasteful than what was produced.

And I think that’s the main reason why people are upset by the cover. We expect tasteless commentary from tabloids and from the likes of FOX News, not from the New Yorker and other respectable news outlets.

What do you think of the cover? Political satire or tasteless commentary?