Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Starting Near the Bottom and Finding a New Low

Rupert Murdoch and The New York Post have never been afraid of the bottom of the toilet, but I have to say that even I was surprised by this one. There is no veil, however thin, for this image to hide behind. What else besides a brutally racist message could this cartoon possibly convey? It could be the cover image for a KKK newsletter:

The Post's editor in chief, Col Allan, defended it in this way:

"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy."

This doesn't sound like a defense, so much as an admission of guilt. I worked in publishing for many years and know the drill - the thing that really struck me was the number of people who had to sign off on this in order for it to get in to the paper and on the web site. Many saw this cartoon and thought it was OK to publish.

There's been a good deal of speculation about the racist backlash that would come from the election of our first black president. And while I'm not surprised that many at the Post hold these views, I thought they were canny enough as an organization to try and keep it a secret.