Obama Cover: Some Loved It, Some Not So Much

Re: “Don’t Screw This Up,” November 5

How dare you print such a nasty cover page for all of America to see. If your paper has such a low image of our new president then maybe you all shouldn’t be in the business of news. What you printed was not newsworthy nor was it smart. Your newspaper is for whites and I’ll just keep reading the Sun-Times.

William Glover

NEVER, EVER AGAIN will I read, look at/for, refer to, in ANY capacity your trivial pamphlet. You will NEVER understand the reasoning, the sentiment, the struggle, the depth nor the beauty of people of color. You and your staff are undignified, small, trivial, insignificant, and yes, EVIL. Goodbye and good riddance.

Darnell Austell

So what’s the subtext here? If you’re black, you’re expected to screw up.

Anne Peneff Albert

If the Reader really wants to provide or be an “alternative” publication, why don’t you try to present the positive. We have enough negative press! Your title presumes that President Elect Obama is incapable of successfully correcting all that Bush has done. Give it a year or two before you begin to imply anything.


I love the Reader‘s diversity but I never remember in the history of the reader them publishing such a cover on Bush when he was elected. Our country has suffered the last past eight years and for the Bush atrocities he should’ve been impeached sometime ago.

Rama B

We all know what expectations we have whenever we elect any officials, but never before have I ever heard quote “Screw Up” implied to a president entering into office, and considering the shape things are in now anything contrary to the present circumstances would be considered a fix. I know you could have chosen many other adjectives to express the same concerns but instead you seemed to have taken the most racial approach express your deepest fear.

Anthony Craig Mathews

How could you?! Better yet, How dare you!! Here is a man who is risking his life to serve this country and you say to him don’t screw this up? Screw you!!! He is not the one who has put this country in the fix it is in. It is already screwed up.

Or, is it because he is a black man that you think he might not do a good job, because no black man is ever as good as a white?

Work on your consciousness people because from here it stinks!


I’m so disappointed by your cover. “Don’t screw it up” leads one to believe that you have opinions regarding President-elect Obama’s ability due to race. What is wrong with your editors? Don’t you have any sense of decency and responsibility to your readers?

Jessica Jolie Johnson

As an African American media professional, I can say that at first glance, the Obama cover of Chicago Reader didn’t really invoke much emotion from me. I see that it was meant to be funny, and to some it may be. It just didn’t strike that chord with me.

What I can say is that this cover is in no way racist. I would hope that if our nation is progressive enough to elect a president who happens to be black, we are also progressive enough to understand that every commentary on his actions and/or potential is not meant to be a cheap shot taken at his background and heritage. As the headlines read, America is growing up. I hope that we as individuals can take that step forward, as well.


Such a momentous victory after eight years of fucking torture at the hands of an imbecilic despot screams out for a cover that lauds this awesome candidate and the watershed historic moment that this is, not some lame wisecrack. And yes, it does beg the question, why exactly would he be expected to screw it up? Dumb.

greyhound girl

Worst Reader cover ever.

Mark Messing

Is Obama going to live up to many people’s ridiculously high expectations? Probably not; no one could. But could we please not start telling believers and hopers that they’re so wrong, in the first few days after the election? Let us be happy for a little while. We deserve it after the last eight years.


It seems to me that the problem is one of timing. Yes, it’s important to hold him to his promises, and no one is asking for “cheerleading,” but to play the watchdog today is at best to be posing as jaded and world-weary no-nonsense, hard news, and at worst, a slap in the face to all the people for whom BHO’s election was one of the most significant things of their lives.


I agree with you about the reason for the cover but wish you could have waited a day so Obama could bask in his glory. He’ll have to face the chaos soon enough.

Henry Kisor

Yeah, Reader, why didn’t you go through the big expense and hassle to completely change your publishing schedule so we can all feel warm and squishy for a few more hours? Lord knows your company can afford it.


People need to wake up and realize that the world we live in is changing. You can either be spectators on the sideline and complain and nick pick or you can be contributors in the game. Do your part in making this country right. Restore dignity and pride among our citizens. This was very unamerican and very disappointing.


Actually, it is quintessentially American and not at all disappointing.

In fact, it is the essence of American, an essential skepticism that is painfully absent in our citizens’ perspectives of local governments. Many citizens have substituted cynicism for skepticism, thus resulting in an apathetic, i.e., lazy, reaction to the many dishonest, deceptive, and egregiously crooked activities of our city, county and state elected representatives.

To question is the essence of thoughtful living. To placidly accept is the essence of thoughtless existence. There is a difference between hopeful optimism and naive gullibility. To paraphrase the ever erudite Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And the one essential quality that the citizens must exhibit, for there to be a chance of our ever enjoying the potential benefits of a successful Democracy, is thoughtful scrutiny of those to whom we grant the powers of government. A more accurate banner would have been “Don’t Fuck Us Over.”


Is this what we have to live with for the next four years? Any criticism of Obama will be shot down as racism?

“Yes, we can” has been replaced with “Yes, we did.”

Now appropriate: “Yes, you better.”

It’s the same advice I give myself when I’ve been offered opportunities: new jobs, heading a committee, being elected to anything from church council to condo board. People place faith in you and expect you to deliver. It has nothing to do with his color. It has everything to do with faith, hope, and expectations. I’d be surprised if, in private moments, Obama hasn’t said the same thing to himself.


I think your covers are hilarious. If we lose our collective sense of humor, that’s pathetic. The Obama cover echoed my feelings in that charismatic speaking is only one part of a leader’s toolbox. We all need to stay involved, and keep in mind that though we elect them, they are there to represent US.


The cover caption reminds me of the line from the first Lethal Weapon movie: “This is a tough crowd. Baby, you best not stink.”

Ellsworth D. Ware III

In 1960, Mad magazine famously ran with two covers. One carried a portrait of JFK with congratulations and a message: “We were with you all the way, Jack!” Flip the mag over and there was Nixon: “We were with you all the way, Dick!”

Granted, Mad isn’t the Reader and this year’s portraits were designed to have a certain measure of gravitas—but jeez, folks.

All this hypersensitivity and conspiracy-driven overthink—if it continues—is going to leave us even more paralyzed as a nation than we’ve been for the last eight years, or more.

Meanwhile: I was with you all the way, BarackJohn!

Alan Solomon

I’m a huge Obama supporter, but I think the Reader‘s message is important: don’t expect miracles.

Joseph Smith

Lighten up, people. The cover is serious and it is funny and the U.S. needs both, in equal measure. Let’s balance the giddiness of hope and/or the decorous awe of the presidency with some grounded civic realism. Great job, Reader, for being the Greek—no wait, democratic—chorus.


Bravo on two covers that are right on the mark as well as very funny. Who wouldn’t be thinking that if McCain had been elected?

BTW, someone made the comment “Yes, we have Freedom of Speech but...” THAT frightens me more than a President Palin.


These covers are a perfect mirror for our anxious age. Great job, guys. Don’t listen to the peanut gallery.


It’s interesting that Michelle said the same thing to Barack right before he stepped onstage to give his keynote speech at the 2004 Dem Convention.


Contrary to what is being implied by many of the cover’s critics, the subtext of this piece is the assumption is that everyone reading the Reader is 100 percent in the tank for Obama already and have spent two years working to make November 4 happen. The “This” in the banner is supposed to be something intimate between “us” and Obama, and rather than being a racist, cynical attack, this is a grounded, good-humored dose of reality.

Jake Austen

Racist?? Does that mean that every time someone says something negative about the president he will risk being branded a racist? That is pathetic, and unworthy of our great republic.

The most delightful part about it is that, because Barack is our own hometown guy, for once in its life the plucky lil ol’ Reader can speak directly to the soon to be president of the United States via its front page, and have a reasonable hope that the message will cross his line of sight right in your own honor boxes. That is COOL!, and somehow makes it finally hit me that our local guy is the Leader of the Free World.

Lighten Up

Didn’t take long. Leno wouldn’t touch him. Letterman hit everybody but. But when the Reader quotes Obama’s wife from 2004, the crying towels come out in droves and people light their hair on fire.

Folks, he wanted this office. He asked for it. He knows what every past president, and especially during the last eight years has had to endure. He knew what he was getting into. And if he’s as fantastic as you all say he is, why does he need you to defend him?

Just because your audacious optimism is tied to this guy doesn’t mean he’s not going to made fun of.

Deal with it! And continue to deal with it. Only half the country feels like you do about him.

If he’s good, he’ll win some of the respect of the other half. Either way, the cartoons will only get more caustic.

Dub El Standard

Perfect headline. Most of the people I know—of all colors—are thinking the same thing. And we are all crossing our fingers for him—and for us.


To the naysayers whining about you not celebrating or being “racist” (huh?), just remind them it’s not your job to celebrate, it’s your job to question, pry, doubt and investigate. Barack Obama may be an awesome president, he certainly had my support of the two major candidates running, but we should never give anyone a free pass. He’s still a politician.

Jason Allen

What’s left to screw up?