Last summer, The New Yorker magazine set off a firestorm of controversy when it published a controversial cover image depicting Michelle Obama as part of a clandestine terrorist cell in the White House. The magazine said it was satire meant to reflect the caricature of Mrs. Obama presented by her critics in the media.
That was then.
In the latest cover illustration, Mrs. Obama is depicted in three colorful runway poses suitable for New York's fashion week. Gone is the huge Afro, the combat boots and fatigues, the assault rifle over her shoulder and the fist bump with her husband that was shown in last summer's controversial image.
In last year's image, Barack Obama was shown winking at the viewer while wearing Muslim headdress and outerwear. An American flag was shown being burned in the fireplace and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hung above the mantle. This time Mr. Obama is left out of the scene.
Back then, Obama was a candidate for president and conservative critics predicted that some damning information about his wife might surface by election day. It never did. Instead, Obama went on to win the White House and his wife's popularity soared and remains high today.
But The New Yorker said then that it never intended to impugn the Obamas, which is why the cover illustration was called "The Politics of Fear."
Not everyone was convinced back then. "It's the most gross, sick and pathetic attempt at satire I've ever seen in my life," columnist Maggie Van Ostrand wrote. "Shame on The New Yorker for stooping so low to increase their circulation, which must be in the toilet, where it belongs," she said.
AlterNet columnist Don Hazen described the magazine's decision as "arrogant and indulgent" and said the cover "turns the magazine into a potential Molotov cocktail, to be gleefully tossed by Fox News and the conservative blogs, into the already combustible tinderbox of race and muslim stereotypes just below the surface of America's public discourse."
But Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page called it "quite within the normal realms of journalism." Speaking on Howard Kurtz's CNN media program, Page said the cover is "just lampooning all the crazy ignorance out there."
Today there doesn't appear to be much talk about Michelle Obama as a closet radical, and the new magazine cover hasn't drawn any notable criticism. Of course, today the Obamas live in the White House and many of the more outrageous fears have been discounted.