It prides itself on its journalistic integrity, but The Washington Post has been accused of censorship by its own ombudsman after dropping a cartoon that poked fun at the love life - or not - of President Bush's National Security Adviser.
Leonard Downie, the executive editor, dropped an entire week of "The Boondocks" by Aaron McGruder, saying the cartoon that featured Condoleezza Rice had overstepped the boundaries of taste.
"The 'Boondocks' strips in question commented on the private life of the National Security Adviser and its relationship to her official duties in ways that violated our standards for taste, fairness and invasion of privacy," he said. The decision has caused an outcry among Post readers, who complained to the paper's ombudsman, Michael Getler. "We are grown-ups out here, not children," one said.
Another asked: "Has the Post become so timid as to refuse to run a comic strip that pokes fun at a member of the Bush administration?"
The allegedly offensive cartoon features a young "Boondocks" characterwho suggests the world might be a safer place if he and his friends could help Ms Rice find a boyfriend.
"Maybe if there was a man in the world who Condoleezza truly loved, she wouldn't be so hellbent to destroy the planet," he says. The personal life of Ms Rice, 49, a close friend of the Bush family, is occasionally the focus of gossip in Washington. She is single and known for working long hours.
In a recent column Mr Getler said he felt the Post's decision had been wrong. "I don't know a thing about [Ms] Rice's personal life, nor do the characters in the strip, and I think readers understand that," he wrote.
Yesterday, speaking to The Independent about the Post's decision, he said: "I think they were censoring Mr McGruder for their own reasons." There have been several cartoons spiked by US newspapers for being offensive.
In September some papers refused to run the Doonesbury cartoon that dealt with masturbation and earlier this year The Boston Globe opted not to run a "Boondocks" strip that included an anti-war protest.
After the attacks of 11 September 2001, some cartoonists complained their work was censored for being "unpatriotic".
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