Saturday, November 12, 2016

The New Yorker and the New President

On Wednesday November 9, the day after Election Day, The New Yorker's editor David Remnick wrote online of Donald Trump's election:

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

That should give some idea of the challenges that the magazine will face in covering the Trump Presidency. The New Yorker's first post-election cover is by Bob Staake and it will be on newsstands Monday. With disarming simplicity, it seems to suggest something even more ominous than Trump's promise to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants. Presumably it also encapsulates the bleak and claustrophobic mood experienced by much of the magazine's readership as a solid field of red-state bricks obliterate the open blue-state sky:
Bob Staake, The New Yorker, November 21, 2016

Compare this with the shimmering, light-filled, open-air vision of hope depicted by Mr. Staake eight years ago when Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency.
Bob Staake, The New Yorker, November 17, 2008

The cartoons from the November 21 issue have yet to be released and they may not yet reflect the mood swing that accompanied the election outcome among a large part of the electorate. One can't envy the cartoonists their new task. This election has saddened and embittered many of the magazine's readers as they contemplate the many profound and unwanted changes coming to our nation, some of which may persist for decades. The New Yorker's writers will continue as always to chronicle the events that reshape this country for good or ill, but the cartoonists will have to find humor in them. It is impossible to predict what approaches the New Yorker's cartoonists will adopt in the Trump years and beyond, but it is perhaps helpful to ponder a darkly delightful 1982 Reagan-era cartoon by Charles Barsotti. Such subtlety isn't likely to register in the Trump era.
Charles Barsotti, Uninformed
The New Yorker,
September 13, 1982, page 38

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