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Letters to the Times About Barry Blitt's Obama Cover

Filed under: Sempé Fi   Tagged: , , , , , ,

A few more perspectives, including that of Rich Harris from Brooklyn, who begins, “I am a black man and a Democrat, and I thought the New Yorker cartoon was very funny. It was not racist; rather, it was great satire. More important, I thought it was brave.” Here’s a tiny bit of reportage for you: Paul Morris texted me to say he couldn’t find a copy of The New Yorker anywhere he went today in Los Angeles. I’ve had a few conversations about the cover today at TypeCon, whose attendees are well versed in the power of words, images, humor, irony, iconography, and illustration. I’ll see if I can round up a few quotes, since I think you’d find them interesting. Smart, smart people here in Buffalo!


The absence of copies in LA might say more about west coast distribution problems than the cover issue. When a local TV story about Blitt’s cover came to my attention the other night, I wondered, what issue? - checked on line and realized I’d never received the July 7/14 issue, let alone this one. Next day the Oregonian published a header headline using “Offensive…,” but didn’t mention the NYr in the headline (they must not have received their copy yet, either, for how often, unless plagiarizing from it – no satire there; you could look it up – does the Oregonian mention the NYr?). We find no issue with the cover, although we’re still looking forward to seeing it first hand. The NYr might follow up with another “cover issue,” illustrating the history, purpose, and strategy of covers over the years (or the history of political cartoon satire). But local TV folks and editors at places like the Oregonian won’t read it, or, if they do, won’t cover it; having pandered to what they consider the philistine tastes of an undiscerning audience for so long, they now seem unable to develop an argument, and instead of looking for the values inherent in the rhetorical situation, look for the pop of the one line charge. Their viewers and readers may have no sense of context because they’ve not been given any. Yet, an argument is under way. The cover in question contains all the elements of a classical argument, and this type of argument can have positive outcomes. As an afterthought, a magazine cover makes a local newspaper’s headline? What’s that say about the end of newspapers?

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