Matthews Worries 'Right' Will Turn New Yorker Cover into T-Shirt

On Monday's "Hardball" Chris Matthews was so upset about the New Yorker's cover, depicting Barack Obama in a turban and Michelle Obama toting an AK-47, because he feared "the right will be using that as t-shirt material within the next couple of weeks."

Matthews, along with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and the Atlantic Media's Ronald Brownstein also insulted all the non-New Yorker subscribers who didn't get the joke as unsophisticated, or as Lizza put it, "a little slow."

The following exchanges occurred on the July 14 edition of "Hardball:"

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know the trouble is to many people it reminds us of a Thomas Nast cartoon of the 19th century, where they showed Irish immigrants as monkeys. You know you can say, on a sophisticated level, that everybody gets the joke. But people who see that picture of him in the turban and his wife carrying an AK-47 and the big picture, a loving picture of Osama Bin Laden, an American flag burning in the fireplace. I'll bet you any money that the right will be using that as t-shirt material within the next couple of weeks.

...

MATTHEWS: We have 12 percent of this country who believe that Barack Obama took the oath of office as a U.S. Senator on the Koran. We've got 19 percent of other Americans, adding up to 31 percent, who really have doubts about his religious background who do think he might be a Muslim. This picture with him in the turban on, what's it gonna do?

RONALD BROWNSTEIN, ATLANTIC MEDIA: Well first of all, as, as Ryan said it's intended to be a comment on a comment. If you look at the subscription list of The New Yorker I'm guessing that short of Prius owners it's gonna be hard to find a, a demo-, a consumer demographic group that is gonna be more inclined toward Barack Obama. So I think they certainly felt that their readers were going to get that they were attempting to invalidate the right's portrayal of Obama by taking it to, what they saw, as the logical extreme of the arguments that are being made. Now whether people try to use the argument in another way, I don't know. But clearly the intent here is to disqualify these arguments by raising them to a level of absurdity. And I'm guessing, for their audience, that people who got that, people who subscribe to The New Yorker, probably are going to get that. Now whether others, you know, take it differently we can't say.

...

MATTHEWS: Well the problem, the problem, Ryan is and you're as smart as I am about this. Let's face it there are lot of people out there who want to believe he's a Muslim, who want to believe that he's too exotic to vote for, for a lot of ethnic reasons. They prefer to think of a guy named Osama Bin, not Osama, there I make the mistake. Barack Obama with a middle name "Hussein," as a Muslim, as someone who is exotic and un-American. It's useful to them to have this kind of art.

RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: One way you push back at that Chris is to lampoon it. Is to make fun of this idea. Is to show people that it's absurd. And look for the people that didn't get the joke, that didn't understand the cover, I think the fact that it's been on cable, wall-to-wall, for all day today and all over the web and having people from the magazine explain it. You know we've, we're trying to help people get the joke for people who are a little slow.

 

 

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.