Cover Story: Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Trump

From his first full day on the job, Donald J. Trump made magazine cover play an important issue of his presidency, falsely boasting to members of the intelligence community that he held the record for Time magazine covers. In his second week on the job, he ignited a flame of magazine cover treatments, and in at least one case, extinguished it too.

This week’s cover of The New Yorker features an illustration entitled “Liberty’s Flameout,” and shows the Statue of Liberty’s torch raised, but burned out.

One of the things making the magazine cover so noteworthy -- aside from being one of a spate of covers depicting Trump’s assault on Lady Liberty -- is that it was the first time in 92 years that The New Yorker bumped a trademark treatment of monocled dandy Eustace Tilley from the cover of its anniversary issue.

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“This year, as a response to the opening weeks of the Trump Administration, particularly the executive order on immigration, we feature John W. Tomac’s dark, unwelcoming image, 'Liberty’s Flameout'," the magazine’s Culture Desk Editor Francoise Mully explains.

"It used to be that the Statue of Liberty, and her shining torch, was the vision that welcomed new immigrants. And, at the same time, it was the symbol of American values," illustrator Tomac adds. “Now it seems that we are turning off the light."

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine was even less subtle, running a cover illustration depicting Trump decapitating Lady Liberty like a jihadist. It was reminiscent of a cover of Trump hometown paper, New York's Daily News, which ran a similar cartoon cover of Trump decapitating the statue in December 2015.

It is not the first time editors have played covers depicting Trump assaulting Liberty. And though the publication of its December issue preceded Trump’s immigration and refugee ban orders, the New Republic’s depiction of Trump as the Statue of Liberty, thrusting his middle finger in place of the torch of freedom, may have expressed the sentiment of magazine cover editors best.

3 comments about "Cover Story: Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Trump".
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  1. Donald Frazier from OneVideo Technology, February 6, 2017 at 2:03 p.m.

    What effect do these ads have in the part of the country whose voters elected Trump?  ONe one level, maybe we just haven't bothered with ways to express them for a world where there are no art directors.  On anotyher, maybe they just don't care about these values -- at least not when they are applied to persons of color.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, February 6, 2017 at 2:50 p.m.

    Donald, I don't know. I know these magazines are nationally distributed, so they must be making an impression with those people too. I've seen a lot of analysis suggesting that Trump was successful in marginalizing mainstream media, and Hollywood in particular, as being "elitist," which is ironic when you think about who Trump is and where he comes from. And I've seen a lot of analysis about the fact that people are more prone to use media that reinforces their "confirmation bias." The bigger issue right now is how Trump is trying to delegitimize the press altogether, calling them "dishonest," "fake" and "failing." All I'm trying to do is cover the two sides of that: how the meda are covering Trump. And how Trump is "covering" the media. In terms of his executive order on immigration, some top magazine editors saw it as an assault on liberty, literally.

  3. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, February 6, 2017 at 7:24 p.m.

    Stop wasting covers of excellent magazines and just IMPEACH the bastasrd!!!

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