The satirical cover of The New Yorker magazine was chattering class fodder this week, with pundits and more pundits wondering aloud if 'other people' would understand the joke. Brooke wonders aloud why so many supposedly smart people assume the rest of us are so dumb.
BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. This week, all week, everyone in the media was looking like they ate a bug, just like Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on The Today Show. [CLIP] FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Satire’s supposed to be funny. If you have to explain it to everybody FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Right. FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, here it is. FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Here it is. FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: How funny is it? FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: It is the cover. Yeah. FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I don't like it very much and I don't think — I mean, I'm sure FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: I think it’s horrible. FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Yeah. So why are we showing it? FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know, because everybody’s talking about it. [END CLIP]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: There is no less euphonious sound on earth than the media getting their collective knickers in a twist over something done by the media, especially when all those outraged pundits, who make good livings off our rancorous marketplace of ideas, decide they have to protect us from a joke.
The New Yorker cover sought to satirize all the nasty lies about Obama on which the very media now protesting too much, had fed for months. When New Yorker editor David Remnick went on The Charlie Rose Show this week, he took along a clip from The Daily Show as his best defense, fighting media, I suppose, with media. And he was right to do so, because here’s what Jon Stewart said about what the Obama campaign should have said. [CLIP] JON STEWART: Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist, because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists. [LAUGHTER] [END CLIP] BROOKE GLADSTONE: The cover kerfuffle is an old story by now and probably not worth mentioning, except that it scared the hell out of me, because either our airwaves are populated by Muslim extremists or by people who think we're all a bunch of idiots. Actually, when you think about it, that explains a lot.