Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Liberal Media Hit Pieces or just Wry New Yorker Humor?

Here is something a bit odd. I don't know what it means. Mitt Romney has Been the subject of the covers of four out of the last six issues of The New Yorker. Barak Obama has not appeared on the cover at all. The only time the president has been even suggested on he New Yorker cover on that time has been on the issue fail lowing the first presidential debate, in what was surely the sliest political cartoon so far this season, which showed Romney debating with an empty stool, a reference to Clint Eastwood's bizarre performance at the Republican National Convention.

Coming from New York City as it does, one might expect the New Yorker to feature the president more. After all, this is one of the most liberal cities in America. Conservative conspiracy theorists might also expect a New York focused magazine to be writing hit pieces on Mitt Romney, and indeed some of their coverage has been highly critical of him. But the New Yorker bills itself both as a rag so erudite that it is above the filthy business of politics (except for this weeks issue), and as a magazine targeted at the upper fraction of the one percent, or those who aspire to be like them, so they have a deep fondness and admiration for Mr. Romney (one that is not shared by their readers, to judge from the letters they choose to publish).

The covers display the wry humor typical of the New Yorker. The current cover is the most critical of Mr. Romney. Titled "skin deep" it is based on Norman Rockwell's famous "Tattoo Artist" cover from The Saturday Evening Post in March of 1944. The original has a sailor sitting on a stool with a tattoo artist, his back to us, hunched over, hard at work on the sailor's arm, where he is inscribing the name "Betty" below a list of other girl's names, all exes, all lined through. Behind the sailor and framing him is a wall of flash. The sailor sits there calmly, a little bored, knowing that Betty is unlikely to be last girl to have her named tattooed on his arm. In the New Yorker version, Romney sits in the chair, calmly, as the artists inscribes a line through the word "Outsourcing" on his bicep, below a list of other crossed out terms: Romney Care, 47%, Stem Cells, Immigration, Tax Cuts, Pro-Choice. The best part of the drawing is the flash on the wall, including a slipper ship above the legend "Cayman or Bust," a tip hat full of money, and a pinup girl on a binder with "Binders of Babes" written on it.

Another cover, from September 3rd, shows Romney with his running mate Paul Ryan in a series of scenes that could be from the opening credits of Mayberry R.F.D. One scene has the two (hunky) candidates, shirtless, bending over the engine of a '55 Chevy Bel Aire (the two tone paint, the chrome strip, and the lack of tail fins, if you must know). Another has them sharing a chocolate malt at a soda shop. In one, Ryan reads Atlas Shrugged to Romney as he drift's off to sleep. The one where they are trying to trap a puppy so they can tar and feather it clearly marks them as heartless bad guys, but is reminiscent of Romney's dismissal of his college era bullying of a gay classmate as "pranks and shenanigans."

But with all this, where is the president? As it turns out, inside. An item in the issue lists all the politically themed covers they did this year. Two of them featured Obama one more featured Romney. Clearly Romney is bigger news than the sitting president. Or maybe he is the target they want to make fun of. The two covers featuring Obama are anything but critical.

The best political cover of the year, though, is actually two. Roz Chast created two covers for the September 24 issue called "Bring In The Clowns," one tinted in red and the other in blue, mocking the sacred cows of both political parties.

(I found the article on covers just as I was finishing this post. Took a bit of the wind out of my sails, but I was proud of having recognized the Rockwell and Eastwood references, so I'm posting this anyway).


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