Paper apologises for monkey cartoon

By Time of article published Feb 20, 2009

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New York - The New York Post apologised on Friday for its controversial political cartoon of a monkey that the newspaper acknowledged was seen by some as "a thinly veiled expression of racism".

The cartoon in Wednesday's paper had drawn outrage among some including civil rights leaders, prompting a loud protest on Thursday outside the headquarters of News Corp, which owns the Post.

It showed a policeman killing a monkey, a reference to an incident in Connecticut on Monday in which an officer shot dead a chimpanzee that had mauled a woman.

In the drawing, another police officer comments: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

In an editorial under the headline That Cartoon, the Post said the Page 6 drawing "was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period".

"But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President (Barack) Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism," said the editorial posted on the newspaper's website.

"This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologise."

Hundreds of protesters had shouted on Thursday for the Post to close down over the cartoon that black civil rights leader Al Sharpton considered a racial reference to Obama, who took office last month as the first black US president.

"They thought we were chimpanzees. They will find out we are lions," Sharpton said.

At another demonstration in the city, state Senator Eric Adams, a Democrat representing the New York borough of Brooklyn said: "This is not funny, this is not a cartoon, this is disgusting."

Sharpton on Wednesday called the cartoon "troubling" in view of historic racist attacks comparing African-Americans to monkeys, and said the cartoon was directly linked to Obama's signing of an economic stimulus bill the day before.

New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allen, a few hours later, printed a response defending the cartoon as "a clear parody of current news events" and branded Sharpton "nothing more than a publicity opportunist".

While the apology could be taken as a stand-down from Allen's earlier response, the editorial maintained that "there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback".

"To them, no apology is due," it said.

"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else." - Sapa-AFP

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