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New Yorker Editor Likens Obama Cover to Colbert

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, defended his magazine's cover on CNN Monday by likening it to "Stephen Colbert in print."

The reference was to the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, the news satire that has Colbert parodying a Bill O'Reilly-type cable "news and comment" show.

Remnick was explaining the thinking behind the cover, which depicted Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a Muslim in turban and traditional dress and his wife in an Angela Davis-invoking pose with an afro and an Uzi. Then, there is the picture of Osama bin-Laden on the wall and the American flag burning in the Oval Office fireplace.

That cover drew strong criticism from the Obama campaign, among others.

Remnick pointed out it was a satire of the "lies" being told about Obama and that, while some people would be offended, good satire had a bite, adding that if the media could only publish the joke that everyone gets, there wouldn't be any Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, the latter of which, he pointed out, got to criticize right-wing pundits by playing one on TV.

Remnick also made the comparison in an interview posted at The Huffington Post, saying, "I bet there are people who watch Stephen Colbert and think he's a conservative commentator, or maybe they did at first … a lot of people when they first saw Colbert said, ‘What is this?’ What he was doing was turning things on [their] head."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.