Last week, the Murdoch-owned, clearly Republican, New York Post, published a cartoon of a monkey shot dead by police (this actually happened earlier in the week in the city).
The sketch caused outcry and mass demonstrations have been held outside the NYP offices calling for a public apology to be printed in the paper and for the resignation of the editor who allowed the cartoon to be published.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, the caption to the sketch read: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill”. This clearly relates to the stimulus bill which President Obama had just signed that week.
On publication, the NYP was at the receiving end of much criticism and subsequently published an apology the very next day stating the sketch was simply conveying their views about the bill which they feel is ‘ineptly written’ and that this was not ‘a thinly veiled expression of racism’.
There’s no denying the cartoon evokes strong, racist references and would inevitably cause an outcry from the public – especially as the world is still on such a high over the appointment of the US’s first black president.
The NYP vehemently denies any racist motive behind the sketch but apparently, on the page before the cartoon appeared, there was a big picture of Obama signing the bill – to me it seems it wouldn’t be hard for the reader to put the two together…
Of course, opinion seems to be divided as to whether this was intentionally racist or not.
The Huffington Post strongly disagrees with the NYP’s defence that “sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon” arguing that “media images can sway a country to war” and newspapers tend to be a reflection of their communities, deciding who is in favour at a particular time and who is not. On the other hand, a Conservative blogger has similar strong feelings about the cartoon but argues that there are clearly double standards going on here as there have been many cartoons of George W Bush in the past and no one batted an eye lid.
That all said, does this not show a lack of judgement and insensitivity on behalf of the paper? Any person with half a brain would know that this kind of cartoon would be open to interpretation and therefore cause huge debate, and not just on a national scale.
I also wonder what kind of effect this might have on the NYP’s sales as there is so much support for Obama in America? Could this kind of negative publicity have an adverse affect on the sales of the paper? Especially at a time when online is growing so much?
See the cartoon, then read the apology – make up your own mind…