New York Post apologises over Obama chimp cartoon

Friday 20 February 2009 14:19

The New York Post apologised today for a cartoon said by some to compare President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police.

The tabloid's statement came after two days of protests by civil rights campaigners and others - but the paper said it would not apologise to its long-time detractors, who it accused of exploiting the image for revenge.

Some of the cartoon's critics said they were not satisfied with the qualified apology and threatened to continue protesting outside the paper's offices today.

The newspaper posted an editorial on its website saying the cartoon was meant to mock the government's economic stimulus bill, but "to those who were offended by the image, we apologise".

The piece was posted hours after 200 people chanting "Boycott the Post! Shut it down!" marched in front of the paper's office, saying the cartoon echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

The editorial said that "most certainly was not its intent", adding that some media and public figures who had differences with the paper saw the cartoon "as an opportunity for payback".

Calling them "opportunists", the editorial said: "To them, no apology is due."

The Rev Al Sharpton, who helped lead the outcry over the cartoon, criticised what he called the paper's "conditional statement" of regret.

"Though we think it is the right thing for them to apologise to those they offended, they seem to want to blame the offence on those (who) raised the issue, rather than take responsibility for what they did," he said.

The tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is known for its feisty attitude, provocative headlines and conservative outlook - a mix that has garnered hundreds of thousands of readers, but also criticism, over the years.

The newspaper had stood by the cartoon, which its editor called "a clear parody" about the death of Travis, the chimp that Connecticut police killed on Monday after it mauled a friend of its owner.

Editor-in-chief Col Allan said the intent was to ridicule Washington's efforts to revive the economy.

The drawing by Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, published on Wednesday, shows a dead chimp and two police officers, one with a smoking gun. The caption reads: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

The Post was picketed yesterday and deluged with angry calls, with some marchers carrying signs that said "Jail Billionaire NY Post Owner Rupert Murdoch".

"We make them and we break them with our money, and we should shut it down," said protester Angela Brown.

Some protesters said the cartoon not only underscored racist tropes but even suggested that Mr Obama should be shot.

"Since when can you call for the killing of the president of the US?" said City Councilman Charles Barron.

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