The New Yorker‘s latest magazine cover is pictured here:
It depicts a locker room with a half dozen GOP candidates in various states of undress. Lower left corner features New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lacing up his tennis shoes. A shirtless Sen. Rand Paul is brushing his hair. Sen. Marco Rubio is on the phone. Sen. Ted Cruz is straightening his tie. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting on his socks. Jeb Bush is picking out a tie. And then for reasons I’m not entirely sure about, former Sen. Bob Dole is hanging out in the back.
If you look up, you see Hillary Clinton peering through a window into the locker room.
Do you get it? Do you get it? No, The New Yorker is not trying to make Hillary Clinton seem like a skeevy female peeping Tom. They’re trying to say that the presidency is an old boys’ club and she’s trying to get in!
Here’s how The New Yorker explained the cover:
Behind these Republicans, there is a face in the locker-room door’s window: Hillary Clinton, peeking in. Once they’re done with their intramural shoving match, they’ll mostly likely have to play against her. Some other Democratic candidates might emerge, ones tougher to beat than Bernie Sanders, but at the moment Clinton doesn’t really have to share. She may be the real subject of the picture—she is the big game.
A ha! This is why all the smart people read The New Yorker. Just layers upon layers of meaning, you know?
But I’m much more interested in the foreground of the picture, and who it depicts. Here’s how The New Yorker explained that portion of the Mark Ulriksen’s cover art, which is called “Suiting Up”:
How many Republicans are running for President? It’s a trick question. Some of those who are clearly running—Jeb Bush, for example—are still pretending that they aren’t, mostly because declaring would change the fund-raising rules. And if you counted everyone who, against all evidence, takes himself (or herself) seriously as a candidate, the locker room depicted in Mark Ulriksen’s “Suiting Up,” this week’s cover, would look as crowded as the departures hall at Penn Station, and almost as disconcerting. As it is, Ulriksen presents seven contenders with seven varieties of preening. Maybe it’s hard to tell a vision for America from a delusion of grandeur, at least until the debates and primaries get under way. Until then, Marco Rubio’s got his phone, Rand Paul his comb, and Huckabee his Bible. Ted Cruz’s eyes flit between his copy of the Constitution and his mirror, while Scott Walker seems on the lookout for unionized gym attendants. Bush is wearing his dynasty-logo boxers and Chris Christie his put-me-in-now pout. And yet, somehow, one of these seven men is almost certainly right about his chances for the nomination. The primary campaign may look like a pickup game about to descend into a brawl, but there’s a national candidate somewhere in the lineup.
OK, so first off that answers the question of why Bob Dole was in the picture. He’s not. It’s actually Ulriksen’s attempt at a Mike Huckabee. He’s reading a Bible. Do you get it? Do you get it? Oh how the readers on the Upper East Side laughed and laughed when they saw that. Anyway, how did The New Yorker pick these seven candidates? It certainly wasn’t which seven had the most popular support thus far, at least based on the Real Clear Politics average. That would have included Ben Carson and not Chris Christie. And the magazine already noted that it wasn’t who had actually announced their candidacy. That includes Carly Fiorina, the only female in the GOP race. They didn’t include people who have actually won primaries before, such as Rick Santorum, who finished in second place for the GOP nomination in 2012. Now maybe Ulriksen, et New Yorker al., really have their fingers on the pulse of the average GOP voter. Maybe they’re totally right that Chris Christie is a contender and Rick Perry, the long-term and very successful governor of the 2nd largest state in the union, is not. Maybe The New Yorker is totally right that Mike Huckabee has more to offer the GOP voters than Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana.
Anthony Sacramone wonders about the people that The New Yorker made invisible:
See poor Hillary Clinton straining to break into an all-boys’ club. An all white boys’ club.
These guys, presumably, constitute the GOP’s most prominent presidential nominees.
But where is Ben Carson, who has declared for the presidency? And where is Carly Fiorina, who has declared for the presidency? What happened to them?
We know what happened to them. An African-American and a businesswoman spoil the narrative of the racist, sexist GOP gearing up to wage war against the party of Obama and Hillary Clinton.
So they have been erased. They are invisible.
And why is Governor Chris Christie there, when he has merely formed an exploratory committee —just like Governor Bobby Jindal?
We know why Christie’s there. And we know why Jindal is not.
Sacramone then ties the erasure of the darker-hued and female candidates to similar media erasures:
Do you remember that? That was when an Orthodox Jewish newspaper took Hillary Clinton out of the picture showing her observing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. More recently, Haredi Jewish journalists in Israel removed Angela Merkel and other women from the march following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Some Orthodox Jews remove women from pictures they publish in their newspapers. Even if they’re high-level government officials. Their defense is that they think it’s immodest to show these women. Their critics accuse them of being terrified of women.
Again, maybe The New Yorker — home of the comedic genius of Andy Borowitz — just really knows the GOP field better than GOP voters do. Maybe they think it would be immodest to have Carly Fiorina in the locker room. Maybe they’re just terrified of letting liberal readers know how diversely hued the GOP field is. I don’t know.
Just yesterday there was a story about how “Women and minorities are way underrepresented” in New Yorker cartoons. Maybe the bias against them is strong enough to keep them out of cover art.
But even if the media wish the GOP field weren’t as diverse as it is, particularly relative to the Democratic field, the media shouldn’t do the artistic equivalent of airbrushing photos to get there.