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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New York Post's Chairman Rupert Murdoch issued a personal apology

Words by Miles Bennett

News Corp. CEO, and NY Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch

After receiving backlash for a cartoon that many felt was racist, the New York Post's Chairman Rupert Murdoch issued a personal apology Tuesday (February 24), claiming the company had not intended to offend people.

"Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted," Murdoch said in a statement to "I can assure you -- without a doubt -- that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation.

"It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such. We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard, and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community."

In the cartoon, which ran on the NY Post's website last week, two cops are seen standing over a dead chimpanzee with two bullets to the chest -- an obvious reference to the mauling of a Connecticut woman by a chimpanzee who was later shot and killed by police -- with a caption where one of the officers says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

It ran a day after President Obama signed the stimulus bill, and many felt displayed historically racist imagery. Rev. Al Sharpton called it "troubling at best," while an annoyed John Legend -- who addressed the cartoon in an open letter -- went as far as to call the cartoon "stupid and willfully ignorant."

"Really? Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee?" Legend asked in his written piece. "Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?"

Murdoch said the cartoon was intended only to "mock a badly written piece of legislation."

The paper issued its own statement the day after the cartoon was published, apologizing. But like Murdoch, noted that the cartoon was meant to mock what it called an "ineptly written" stimulus bill.

Leaders of the NAACP called for the firing of Sean Delonas, the man behind the drawing, over the weekend. In response, Delonas called the controversy "absolutely friggin' ridiculous."

"Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon," Delonas told CNN. "It's about the economic stimulus bill. If you're going to make that about anybody, it would be [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, which it's not."

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