Newsweek (and MediaMatters) on “Illustrated” Obama

Posted: September 8, 2010 by RA in "The Media", Politics, Society

One of the things I love most about my job (besides 2 out of 3 meetings being catered) is the selection of free magazines I have access to. Over the years, I’ve watched AdAge get thicker as both Time and Newsweek turn to little more than glossy pamphlets as I go to and from the elevators daily. Still, I seldom stop to pick them up, though… places to go, people to do. (is that how that goes?)

Last week, as I hustled between meetings, something caught my eye in the stacks I usually give a cursory glance. It was the brilliantly worded, even more expertly laid out  cover for the August issue of Newsweek. I had to have it. And even as I tried to run three mini meetings at a time for the rest of the day, I started each one by pointing to my desk and asking the impatient person hoping for the answer they wanted: “Doesn’t that look like it’s gonna be an incredible piece?” Sure, most of them only agreed to get back to the issue at hand, but I’m pretty sure I touched one or two of them deeply. (You’re welcome, Newsweek.)

The piece, in which writer Jonathan Alter compares Obama to the titular Illustrated Man of a classic Sci-Fi novel, whose life was made miserable by the permanent markings covering his entire body, left by a time-traveling witch.

President Obama is our era’s Illustrated Man. His enemies—and even some of his ostensible allies—have been busy for three years painting Obama as some kind of alien threat. His name, race, exotic upbringing, and determination to reach out to moderate Muslims have given those who would delegitimize him a fresh palette of dark colors. The caricatures are almost comical, as the president himself recognizes. “Some folks say, ‘Well, you know, he’s not as cool as he was,’?” Obama said at a May fundraiser in California. “?‘When they had all the posters around and everything.’ Now I’ve got a Hitler mustache on the posters. That’s quite a change.”

The article itself is decent enough, focusing on the recent Newsweek poll that showed just how stupid 24 to 31 percent of America is. (24% say Obama is a Muslim. 24% also say it’s “probably true” that Obama sympathizes with Islamic fundamentalists who would impose Sharia law around the world. 7% say it’s definitely true.) They also quote senior adviser David Axelrod on how the Obama camp isn’t really sweatin’ much of this drama all that hard, and then nod to how they probably ought to, at least a little.

MediaMatters takes an interesting look at the cover, taking on its claims one by one, and laying responsibility at Rupert Murdoch’s door, even wryly including the last word in that oh-so-sexy text block:

That last one about Obama being President is indisputable, but Fox News folks have certainly said that ACORN — with its shadowy ties to Obama — committed voter fraud. Nod, nod. Wink, wink.

Both are definitely worth reading. What, like you aren’t updating your facebook status for the 71st time this morning.



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