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Friday, February 20, 2009


After two days of picketing and vociferous protests, the New York Post has apologised for printing a cartoon that was interpreted by some readers as comparing America’s first black President to a crazed and violent ape.

A qualified apology was posted in an editorial on the tabloid’s website yesterday evening as 200 protesters marched outside its Manhattan offices. Civil rights leaders and politicians were offended by the sketch, which referred to the shooting of Travis, a celebrity chimpanzee who went on a violent rampage this week.

The Rev Al Sharpton led protests against the cartoon, which shows a policeman saying “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill” as he stood over the body of the dead chimp. President Obama was the architect of much of the fiscal stimulus package and some readers concluded that the Commander-in-Chief was the butt of a racially charged joke.

The New York Post has rejected that suggestion but finally bowed to pressure last night and issued an apology. “It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period,” the editorial read. “But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologise.”

The nature of the apology did not quell all of the criticism of the newspaper though. It continued: “However, 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.

“Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.”

Mr Sharpton 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 civil rights veteran said the groups protesting against the cartoon would go ahead with a previously scheduled rally outside the Post today.