There is something both disturbing and hilarious about listening to Fox News (of “terrorist fist jab” and not-so-subtly-digitally-altered-photos-of-New York Times-reporters-who-wrote-ill-of-Fox-News fame) discussing whether this week’s New Yorker cover (depicting “terrorist fist jab”-exchanging sketched caricatures of Barack and Michelle Obama, he in a turban and she with a rifle on her back which, per the magazine, “satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign”) is itself actually “satire or scare tactic” — and, if “satire,” whether or not it is successful satire.

A sample:

FOX NEWS’ CLAYTON MORRIS: [T]he cover is not funny. There are other funny satirical covers they have done, that one is not funny. I think it misses the mark on what comedy is supposed to be.

FOX NEWS’ BRIAN KILMEADE: It’s very consistent with the New Yorker. Tomorrow we’re going to look at other magazine covers to see who else should be offended.

So, Fox News will report back tomorrow on who else should be offended by how they have been depicted by the press. (Subjects of satire, one finds, are often offended).

UPDATE: New Yorker editor David Remnick explains: “[I]t’s not a satire about Obama - it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama.”

UPDATE II:“…[H]ow ominous the world has since become - how high the stakes, even for purveyors of incendiary doodles.” — Doug Marlette (who knew* from Controversial Political Cartoons), from his 2003 article for CJR (a timely re-read today).

UPDATE III: From the New Republic blog The Stump:

[This cover is] no better than Perry Bacon’s infamous Washington Post story, “Foes Use Obama’s Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him.” Both outlets claimed not to support the allegations they were visually or rhetorically putting forward — obviously! — and yet a reader would have to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of each outlet’s ethos to immediately intuit the intended ironic distance.

Wait, that Post article was satire? (So the answer to the question my colleague asked at the time, “Is Perry Bacon Serious?” is…no?)

UPDATE IV: “Candy for cable news,” you say? Strategists. Reporters. Campaign spokespeople. At least one New Yorker employee. A comedian (seriously). Is there anyone who has not yet had his or her say on MSNBC today on the New Yorker cover? (Haven’t seen the “man on the street” or, more likely, “man on the street of a swing state” interview yet. Speculation about what such a person might think? I’m sure I saw some of that.)

* I originally wrote “knows” but a CJR reader quickly corrected me; Doug Marlette died last year.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.