One might think, given this week's controversy over The New Yorker's obviously satirical cover illustration depicting Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle as "fist-bumping terrorists," that beleaguered media companies would be congratulating editor David Remnick for at least temporarily making print publications relevant again. However, in this year's lugubrious presidential campaign, humor and satire are in short supply, and those who dare cross the line of covering the presumptive Democratic nominee's candidacy less than reverentially are instantaneously castigated.
As it happens, I have serious reservations about Mr. Obama's economic and foreign-policy proposals (although the national service he performed in dispatching the Clinton machine can't be underestimated), but the liberal New Yorker remains one of the very few magazines I still read in its print version. Mr. Remnick is one of this country's finest editors, as well as an excellent reporter and author, and it's a rare week that I don't spend at least an hour or more reading its rather eclectic roster of articles. By now, Mr. Remnick is undoubtedly weary of explaining his motives for commissioning the cover illustration by Barry Blitt -- I thought the partially obscured portrait of Osama bin Laden was a particularly witty touch -- to media scolds who believe the stand-alone cover was vulgar and in poor taste.