On Monday's "Good Morning America," the show's co-hosts appeared quite bothered by the "supposed satire" of a New Yorker magazine cover that features a cartoon Michelle Obama as a black militant and Barack Obama in Muslim garb with a picture of Osama bin Laden in the background. And although the issue is obviously meant as a parody and a representation of the liberal view that conservatives are attacking the Illinois senator's patriotism, Cuomo fretted, "Is that the way people see him?"
An ABC graphic for the second segment on the topic, a discussion with Democratic strategist James Carville, featured this warning: "Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?" In a tease for the subject, co-host Robin Roberts asked, "Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover?" Cuomo, making clear his belief that, whatever the satirical intent, the cover wasn't appreciated, opined, "The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking."
GMA correspondent Jake Tapper filed a report on the topic and noted that the Obama camp has labeled the cover "tasteless and offensive." Cuomo agreed and again worried about its impact: "Jake, tasteless and offensive, yeah. But what about also effective? I mean, do you think we're going to start seeing this everywhere? This is the last thing the campaign needed right now, right?"
Cuomo then interviewed Carville on the subject. The longtime aide and friend to the Clintons actually dismissed the New Yorker cover as not that big a deal. (He defended the "really great magazine" and snidely observed, "This is not the Drudge Report. Please.") Cuomo wouldn't let go, however. After Carville brought up the satire defense, the ABC host retorted, "But, I mean, what is there to this point, exactly?" Citing a just released Newsweek poll finding the election between Obama and Republican John McCain tightening, he worried, "Is that the way people see him?
A transcript of the Jake Tapper segment and a partial transcript of the James Carville segment, follow:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Cover controversy. Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover? The Obama camp fires back.
CHRIS CUOMO: And we were looking at the cover a little bit. Let's put that magazine cover back up there. The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking.
ROBERTS: It does and we'll hear more about that instant fall out coming up.
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get to politics. Let's get to the latest on the race to '08. There's a surprising new poll out. Newsweek has Barack Obama leading John McCain by just three points, a statistical dead heat, really. That's down from 15 points of a lead last month. So, now, the selection of running mate could mean that much more. ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper has all the reporting for us from Washington this morning. Morning, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Chris. Well, sometime in the next few weeks, Senator Barack Obama will announce his vice presidential pick and shortly thereafter, in all likelihood, Senator John McCain will do the same. But, until then, political junkies are studying every comment, all the body language, every last nuance to try to figure out who the nominees will be. It's like a game of vice presidential "Clue." Family value conservatives were concerned that Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist would not be a suitable VP pick because he's been a bachelor for decades. Then this month, Crist got engaged. So is it a clue? Crist in Florida with an engagement ring? Minneapolis media have written that Governor Tim Pawlenty's chances of being picked were hurt by his mullet or hockey hair. Suddenly, a new distinguished hair cut. So, is it Pawlenty in Minnesota with a hair cut? 1996 Republican VP nominee Jack Kemp offers this advice.
JACK KEMP (1996 Republican VP nominee): You cannot campaign for it. I think that's the most important thing. Any of you guys out there thinking of campaigning, you can't campaign for it.
JAKE TAPPER: Tell that to Mitt Romney who has shown an amazing willingness to take to the airwaves to praise former foe John McCain.
MITT ROMNEY: He's a person of great capability who has been tested and proven and someone who I respect enormously.
TAPPER: Another clue, Romney on cable with some cheerleading. On the Democratic side, a clue in the Los Angeles Times. Hillary Clinton in New York with an Obama phone call. Clinton fund raiser Jill Iscol was phoned by Obama last week.
JILL ISCOL (Hillary Clinton supporter): He said that he admired Hillary Clinton. He respected her enormously, how could he not consider her for vice president? And that she certainly was on his list.
TAPPER: Then there's the news over the weekend. Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, an opponent of the war in Iraq who has not endorsed McCain, will accompany Obama on the upcoming trip to Iraq. So is a clue Hagel in Iraq on a fact-finding trip? Those are, of course, just a few of the possibilities. Neither the Obama nor McCain campaigns are talking about the matter. But one thing that the Obama campaign is talking about this morning is that new cover of the New Yorker magazine which features a cartoon of the Obamas in the Oval Office. She is dressed as a black militant. He is dressed in Muslim garb. There's a picture of Osama bin Laden above the fireplace where an American flag is burning. The magazine says it's just a parody of conspiracy theorists' take on the Obamas. But the Obama campaign says the cartoon is tasteless and offensive.
CUOMO: Jake, tasteless and offensive, yeah. But what about also effective? I mean, do you think we're going to start seeing this everywhere? This is the last thing the campaign needed right now, right?
TAPPER: I agree with that 100 percent, Chris. In fact, Chris, this morning I went online. That image is already, the magazine cover, is already on the website of people who hate the Obamas and they are using this against the Obama family.
CUOMO: All right, Jake. Appreciate it this morning. Thank you. Let's get some more perspective here. I think you may have heard laughing from this man, Democratic strategist James Carville is here, author of the book "40 More Years." You're laughing, but is there a little bit of crying going on in the Obama camp over that picture?
ABC GRAPHIC: Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?
JAMES CARVILLE: I was laughing because it was tasteless and offensive and I was the next guest. You know, look. Does the New Yorker have a history of being a really great magazine and a responsible magazine? Of course it does. Does it have a history of using satire? Of course it does. This is not the Drudge Report. Please. And I think that David Remnick, who is the editor there, is a pretty smart guy. They've got pretty smart people, I think they knew what they were doing. I understand where the Obama campaign is coming from. I don't know I wouldn't feel the same way. But, given the context of everything, I think that we all know what the New Yorker was doing. They were trying to use satire in making a point at that I'm sure the Obama people would like made at some point.
CUOMO: But, I mean, what is there to this point, exactly? I mean, you're looking at the poll. Right, we had the numbers up there before for the Newsweek poll. The numbers are compressing. He's up 15. Now, it's a statistical dead heat. Is that the way people see him?
CARVILLE: You know, Chris, you can't look at one poll. And that's the danger. And I think if you look across either Pollster.com or RealClearPolitics.com, they'll show the race is about seven points right now, six or seven points. And that seems about right to me. You're always going to have some variations and fluctuations But I'm not at all convinced that there's any kind of severe tightening going on. Newsweek polls show this. Other polls show different things. It's still a fairly close race here. And it's still a race I would say that Senator Obama is the favorite, but there's certainly a way for McCain to do this.