"Media mogul Rupert Murdoch apologized in print yesterday for a cartoon that ignited protests from readers who saw it as a racist depiction of U. S. President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.
The Murdoch-owned New York Post had issued a partial apology in an editorial, saying no apology was due to "some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post."
That was seen as a reference to civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, who led the protests against the cartoon.
But this failed to quell the uproar, leading to the proprietor's mea culpa, published yesterday in the paper.
"Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted," said the 77-year-old head of the media giant News Corp., which owns the Post.
"We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community."
The Sean Delonas cartoon of a policeman shooting an ape played on the real shooting of a pet chimpanzee in Connecticut. A 14-year-old chimp named Travis went berserk, nearly killing its owner's friend and attacking a police car.
The drawing shows two police officers standing by the body. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," says one.
The drawing ran a day after Mr. Obama signed into law the US$787-billion economic stimulus he had strongly promoted, and the connection offended those who likened it to the racist historic comparison of blacks to monkeys.
Demonstrators led by Mr. Sharpton chanted "End racism now!" outside the News Corp. headquarters and called for the jailing of Mr. Murdoch.
The newspaper initially defended the cartoon as a parody of Washington politics, but Mr. Sharpton said it exploited a potent image in the history of racism toward black people.
"I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you -- without a doubt -- that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such," Mr. Murdoch said.
Meanwhile, Clyde Haberman, a New York Times columnist, said calls for the government to get involved were misguided.
"At a minimum, the drawing was thoroughly vulgar, even for an illustrator whose work is often synonymous with vulgarity," he wrote.
"But was it intentionally racist? Protesters, led as usual by Al Sharpton, insist that it was. It was a direct attack on President Obama, they say. Vile comparisons of blacks to chimpanzees and monkeys are as old as the republic."
Mr. Sharpton also wants the Federal Communications Commission to re-examine waivers to its media ownership rules that allow Mr. Murdoch to own two newspapers (The Post and The Wall Street Journal) and two television stations in the New York area.
But the activist is not just concerned about control of the media. He also wants the government to oversee editorial content.
"Thus did he take the first step down a very slippery slope," the columnist notes.
"The First Amendment protects even the most despicable form of expression from government interference. It is why the Supreme Court has upheld the right to burn an American flag even though flag desecration is as offensive to many people as Sharpton says this cartoon was to him."
Mr. Haberman goes on to cite the case of Carl Wilhelm Baumgartner, who was born in Germany in 1895 and became a naturalized American in 1932.
He was also an outspoken supporter of Hitler and the Nazis, so much so the government tried in the Second World War to strip him of his American citizenship.
The case went right up to the U. S. Supreme Court, where the justices finally blocked that effort.
As Mr. Haberman writes, Justice Felix Frankfurter, who was Jewish and hardly enamoured of Nazis, wrote in his majority opinion: "One of the prerogatives of American citizenship is the right to criticize public men and measures -- and that means not only informed and responsible criticism but the freedom to speak foolishly and without moderation."
It is an American right to express "silly or even sinister-sounding views," he added.
Reuters; With Files From The New York Times."
Give enough typing monkeys enough time, and they will be able to write a Shakespearian play...or a tax-and-spend stimulus bill. It's really jumping to outlandish, perhaps delusional, conclusions that the monkey was supposed to be Barack Obama.
American liberals would laugh their asses off if that was say, a caricature of G.W. Bush, in the very same circumstance.
In that case, no-one in the U.S. would be squawking to 'take control of the media and its editorial content'!!
For years, it was OK - appropriate, acceptable, and culturally expected - for liberal nutbags to depict Bush as Hitler; (in St. Catharines, Pulse Niagara did just that in a story photo several years ago); but draw a flicking cartoon monkey and today liberals are demanding sweeping state censorship?
Has the excited states of America gone bananas?
Referring to my recent post, Where's the funny cartoon showing Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty being assaulted?, what if the same cartoon was published in Canada?
Here, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative federal government has also unveiled its stimulus package. Who's to say this cartoon is only U.S. specific? Could the cartoon not be taken as also meaning that the Canadian prime minister's stimulus bill could have also been written by a tax and spend happy monkey?
Liberals in Canada would then be applauding the same cartoon!!
But - wait a minute: Ontario's Liberal Premier, Dalton McGuinty, will soon be unveiling his provincial budget, which as we all know by now, will also be full of "stimulus spending", so would the same cartoon apply to him?
Oh, oh...in that case, Canada's Liberals would freak out and instantly denounce such a cartoon!!
During the 2003 Ontario election, Dalton McGuinty was referred to as an evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet; Liberals at the time almost plotzed in their knickers over this caricatured characterization. Can you imagine them getting upset over a monkey? At least a depiction of a politician as an alien reptile is so much more refreshingly creative!
Nevertheless, it was a prescient comment on the Liberal liars that McGuinty's government turned out to be. Why, I can see McGuinty right now, typical Liberal, slithering under a dark rock, flicking his forked tongue and devouring our taxes.
What if the New York Post's cartoonist had instead drawn, not a monkey, but the Democratic Party's mascot, a donkey, as the focus? Would that be racist? Would that be akin to calling the President a jackass?? Change one letter, from 'm' to 'd', and the accusations go away??
Why would that be a problem today if it wasn't a problem for Andrew Jackson in 1828??
(Speaking of assmonkeys, look no further than at Bill Maher's Religulous ads, featuring simians wearing religious headgear and symbols. Wow, now ain't that clever, in a collegiate kind of way! Anyone complaining that Maher's racist monkeys are being used to slander President Obama's 'religulous' beliefs!? Poor Billy can't get over Sarah Palin, but is kinda quiet when the Bammer refers to God...)
Americans enamoured with Obama's announcement this week to create some kind of mysterious fund for universal health care, should examine the deception practised by Liberals here in Ontario for years. A state-run health care monopoly is going to be a very expensive, and ultimately unreachable, goal. For goodness sake's, don't look to Ontario's disastrous health care system as any kind of template, guide or role model - see Liberal Healthcare Duplicity, An Ontario Overview 2003-2007 for the frightening details of life under a state-run health monopoly.