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N.Y. Post Chimp Cartoon Draws Outrage

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Artist Says Slain Animal Was Not Meant to Be Obama

An editorial cartoon in Wednesday's New York Post that some say compares President Obama to a chimpanzee is being denounced as insensitive at best and racist at worst. The cartoonist denied he had Obama in mind.

The cartoon, drawn for the Page Six section by Sean Delonas, who has been criticized for previous work, shows two policemen, one with a smoking gun, looking at a dead chimpanzee. One says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

The chimpanzee reference is to a 200-pound chimp that went berserk Monday in Stamford, Conn., and was shot by a police officer after attacking a woman.

"Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?" the Rev. Al Sharpton, a previous target of Delonas, said in a statement.

"Of course it's referring to the recent rogue chimp," wrote a reader to the Gawker Web site. "But the joke - such as it is - is based entirely on: '. . . and, hey, the president is one of them monkeys too!'

"How on God's white earth is that not racist . . .?"

Gawker ran an item about the cartoon under a "Black History Month" label.

In a statement, Post Editor in Chief Col Allan said: "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. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist," Karen Matthews reported for the Associated Press.

Delonas added in a statement to CNN that the controversy was "absolutely friggin' ridiculous." 

"Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon," Delonas said his brief comment, read by anchor Kyra Phillips on "CNN Newsroom." "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."

But Rafael Olmeda, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, speaking of the cartoon, told Journal-isms, "It's as politically insensitive and tone-deaf as anything I've ever seen. Any legitimate political point being made is erased by the racist imagery, whether intended or not."

Later, in a statement from Unity, Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and vice president of Unity, said, "I question the judgment of the editorial editors to move this to print as well as the diversity of its staff that would let them think this passes as comedy."

In their "City Room" blog, Sewell Chan and Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times quoted newly appointed Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and several academics calling the cartoon racist.

New York Gov. David Paterson, an African American, said, "'It would be very important for the New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray."

"A newsroom employee at The Post, who spoke on condition of anonymity because employees were not permitted to comment on the matter, said its newsroom received many calls of complaints on Wednesday morning after the publication of the cartoon. 'Every line was lit up for several hours,' the employee said. 'The phones on the city desk have never rung like that before.'" the Times story said.

Sharpton said he planned to hold a protest outside the Post's Midtown offices at noon on Thursday.

"How do you think the Jewish community would feel about the use of rats in any depiction of them?" Gary A. Ramsay and Zachary Dowdy of the New York Association of Black Journalists said in a statement.

"How do you think the Italian community would feel about being generalized with mobsters? Monkey slurs against Africans and African Americans go back to the days of early colonialism, when Anglo Saxon, Spanish and Portuguese conquerors used these types of drawings and descriptions to dehumanize black people so that their mistreatment and enslavement would not be viewed as wrong or sinful. The practice also took on more sinister roles later in history including during the slave trade here in the U.S. and in Hitler's Nazi Germany."

They called for an apology and explanation from the cartoonist and said the incident underscored the need for more black-owned media.

Phillips said on CNN that the cartoon "got us talking this morning. I even looked around to my group in the morning meeting, and in particular, African American members of my team. And I said, 'do you actually remember how that correlation between blacks and monkeys started?'

"And my EP [executive producer] actually found this, and I want to read it to you. It's actually a text, which would be considered junk science - it is - written back in 1867. It was called, 'The Negro: What is his Ethnological Status.'

"And this reverend, Buckner Payne of Nashville, Tenn., writes, this is how he breaks it down scientifically. He says, 'We take up the monkey, and trace him . . . through his upward and advancing orders - baboon, ourang-outang, and gorilla, up to the negro, another animal, that noblest of the beast creation. The difference between these higher orders of the monkey and negro is very slight and consists mainly of this one thing: the negro can utter sounds that can be imitated; hence, he could talk with Adam and Eve, for they could imitate his sounds.'"

"We live in a new age," media critic Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times wrote on his blog. "We have a black president and a woman came within a few hundred primary votes of snagging the job, too. And jokes which might have rolled off the back of a typical politician now take on new resonance when levied against someone from a race of people who were stereotyped as [apish] animals for hundreds of years.

"Frankly, I doubt the Post was smart enough to craft such a ham-handed cartoon to serve such a subtle agenda. I think, instead, they made an awful joke that had a resonance beyond what they planned - a lesson, perhaps, in jumping too gleefully on the train of in-your-face parody."

Among the cartoons for which Delonas has been criticized was one last year portraying longtime WNBC-TV anchor Sue Simmons. The Post claimed that Simmons used to head to a bar between the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts and get tipsy. She denied the story. "Luckily, the tabloid's eternally polite cartoonist Sean Delonas doesn't let silly things like denials get in the way of his art," New York Magazine wrote then, showing the cartoon.

"Apparently, not only is Sue Simmons a drunk, she's also a smoker, maybe a gambler, and possibly a whore. And she cries when she drinks, which is the worst offense of all."

ASNE Reporter to Continue After All, Online

The ASNE Reporter, the student newspaper project that was suspended by the American Society of Newspaper Editors for the first time in its two decades, will continue this year after all, Scott Bosley, the ASNE executive director, said on Wednesday.

"We cobbled together pieces of support. It's going to work," Bosley told Journal-isms. However, the project will be online only and restricted to Chicago-area students to save on housing expenses. The ASNE convention, which the students will cover, takes place in Chicago from April 26 to 29. Mark Hinojosa

All told, the project will cost $7,000 to $8,000, rather than the $30,000 to $40,000 of some previous years, he said.

The student newspaper — and more recently its online counterpart — was created to provide experience to students of color as the organization strove to meet its goal of having the racial composition of newsrooms reach parity with the percentage in the general population. Students cover the ASNE's annual gathering and events in the newspaper industry taking place at the time.

ASNE suspended the project after last year's convention, with Bosley saying, "We just can't afford to lose that much money anymore." However, the Chicago Tribune Foundation has agreed to subsidize a support person to run the technology and Apple is donating the computers, he said on Wednesday. As in previous years, newspapers will donate the supervisory staff.

There will be no advertising in the online editions, as there was in the printed version, he said. Mark Hinojosa, new-media director of the Detroit News, formerly associate managing editor for multimedia at the Chicago Tribune, is to be the editor.

The application deadline for students is March 1. For more information, contact Bobbi Bowman at 703-453-1126 or e-mail bowmanb(at)

President Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in Denver as Vice President Joe Biden looks on. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

Stimulus Package Benefits Newspapers, Broadband

The economic stimulus package that President Obama signed in Denver on Tuesday helps ease newspaper finances and unleashes $7.2 billion to expand broadband access.

"The broadband stimulus package is a critical first step toward transforming our digital dirt roads into 21st-century superhighways. These funds will help boost broadband availability in the rural and underserved areas that need it the most — providing millions of people with good jobs, better education and full participation in our democracy," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a nonprofit organization that advocates for media access.

"There is $7.2 billion in the package for broadband grants to be administered by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and the Agricultural Department, with a big assist from the FCC," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

"The FCC's biggest role, in addition to defining what qualifies as an unserved or underserved area in line for the money, will be to come up, within a year, with a plan to get broadband to everyone in the country."

As for newspapers, "The cancellation of debt provision included in the final legislation allows businesses that repurchase their debt over two years to defer the tax on the difference between the original cost and the discounted purchase price for five years," Katherene Mason, vice president for government affairs of the Newspaper Association of America, told Journal-isms. "The payment of the tax on this income would then be spread out equally over an additional five years. This provision will not be limited to cash acquisitions but will also include debt for debt acquisitions. Prior to the stimulus package, this difference was considered taxable income, so this is an improvement."

The American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the bill, Eggerton reported.

Obama Opposes Reinstituting Fairness Doctrine

"President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told Wednesday.

"The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine — a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

"'As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated,' White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told

"That was after both senior adviser David Axelrod and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left open the door on whether Obama would support reinstating the doctrine.

"The Fairness Doctrine was adopted in 1949 and held that broadcasters were obligated to provide opposing points of views on controversial issues of national importance. It was halted under the Reagan administration.

"The debate over the so-called Fairness Doctrine has heated up in recent days as prominent Democratic senators have called for the policies to be reinstated. Conservative talk show hosts, who see the doctrine as an attempt to impose liberal viewpoints on their shows, largely oppose any move to bring it back."

"Well, you either ought to have the fairness doctrine or you ought to have more balance on the other side," former president Bill Clinton said last week, "because essentially there has always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows."

"The Black Press Will Never Blend In With the Crowd"

"On Oct. 15, 2001, the NNPA News Service published an article headlined, 'White House Holds Whites-Only Press Conference,'" Hazel Trice Edney wrote for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, the organization of black-newspaper publishers. She was explaining why she had said the black press felt like "window dressing" at President Obama's news conference last week.

The 2001 piece "described the scene in which reporters of color from various cultures were relegated to the left side of the East Room and were not allowed to ask questions while then-President George W. Bush called on 10 White reporters sitting before us.

"To the contrary, President Obama and his White House press staff have shown themselves to have quite the opposite mindset. Thanks to the ingenuity and integrity of Corey Ealons and then President-elect Obama, I conducted an exclusive interview with the President-elect during his historic Whistle Stop train tour.

"Since that candid conversation, America has observed its first Black president as laborious and strong as he shoulders the weight of the crisis that was left behind by the Bush Administration. Editorial pages of our papers are supporting him and rooting him on as Black people approach unemployment rates in the teens.

"Although we anticipate reporting — step by step — how he maneuvers the political mine fields ahead, we refuse to let him shoulder this crisis alone. In fact, if the voices of Black newspapers — which were founded amidst crisis — are not now shouting louder than ever, then we will leave him as the first Black president to single-handedly carry the burden of repairing unequal justice.

" . . . the Black Press will never blend in with the crowd. We didn't when we for decades raised our voices for the election of Black politicians across this country. And in the recent words of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, we will continue to speak truth to power no matter what color power is."

Roland Burris says he "will no longer engage the media" (Credit: WLS-TV)

2 Papers Urge Burris to Quit; He's Through With Media

The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post both called Wednesday for appointed Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., to resign, and Burris declared that after Wednesday, he will "no longer engage the media and have facts drip out in selective sound bites," as Charles Thomas reported for Chicago's WLS-TV.

The Tribune said in an editorial:

"The benefit of the doubt had already been stretched thin and taut by the time Roland Burris offered his third version of the events leading to his appointment to the U.S. Senate. It finally snapped like a rubber band, popping him on that long Pinocchio nose of his, when he came out with version four.

"Let's see if we have it right: Burris had zero contact with any of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's cronies about his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama — unless you count that conversation with former chief of staff Lon Monk, and, on further reflection, the ones with insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma and, oh yeah, the governor's brother and fundraising chief, Robert Blagojevich. But Burris didn't raise a single dollar for the now ex-governor as a result of those contacts because that could be construed as a quid pro quo and besides, everyone he asked refused to donate.

"The story gets worse with every telling."

The Post said:

"From the moment that Mr. Burris was selected, he strove to portray himself as a blameless public servant. The sad pictures of Mr. Burris being cast out into the rain by the Democratic leadership of the Senate, which initially refused to seat him, turned public opinion in his favor. Mr. Burris got his seat. But this latest revelation makes a mockery of his professions of no quid pro quo. It is a violation of the public trust. The people of Illinois have suffered enough. Mr. Burris should resign."

Burris insisted he had done nothing wrong in what was described as a feisty speech Wednesday in Chicago.

"If I had done the things I've been accused of, I'd be too embarrassed to stand up here," Burris said.

"Stop the rush to judgment."

Documentary Examines Young, Black Multimillionaires

Lee Hawkins, Wall Street Journal reporter and CNBC correspondent, profiles self-made black multimillionaires, "many of whom grew up poor, have made vast fortunes in the sports, entertainment and media industries" in the documentary "NEWBOs: The Rise of America's New Black Overclass," airing on CNBC on Thursday, Feb. 26.

"This project contains startling statistical data about the earnings of black athletes and entertainers, and shines a bright light on several that are ushering in a new era of entrepreneurship in conjunction with their celebrity status," according to Hawkins' publicity material.

"The documentary offers behind-the-[marquee] stories on several high-profile Newbos, including NBA superstar LeBron James, Major League All-Star Torii Hunter, The Williams brothers of Cash Money Records, Dallas Cowboy star Terrell Owens, billionaire entrepreneur and Newbo pioneer Bob Johnson and musician, Multiplatinum gospel star Kirk Franklin," and musician Wyclef Jean.

"While there is no shortage of coverage of the unfortunate realities of black America — such as crime, incarceration rates, and wealth disparities — this is the first analysis of the growing number of self-made young black multimillionaires and the impact fast-wealth has on them and others that surround them."

The documentary is to be followed by a book of the same name, to be published in June.

Reporter Abducted, Found Beheaded in Pakistan

Press-freedom organizations expressed outrage at the killing Wednesday in Pakistan's Swat valley of a journalist "whose beheaded body was found shortly after he covered a 'peace march' related to an agreement biding the authorities to implement Sharia law there," as Reporters Without Borders said, referring to Islamic law.

"On the same day a score of armed and masked men blew up the press club in Wana, capital of the South Waziristan tribal area, completely destroying the building. In two other recent incidents, a journalist received death threats and a television reporter was briefly abducted after interviewing a Taliban spokesman.

"The body of Musa Khankhel, aged 28, a reporter in the Swat valley for Geo News and the newspaper The News was found beheaded a few hours after he was snatched during a 'peace march' near Matta by supporters of the pro-Taliban cleric, Maulan Sufi Muhammad, one of his colleagues confirmed to Reporters Without Borders. There was no claim of responsibility."

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn said in Thursday's editions, "He became the third journalist killed in the Swat valley during the turmoil, while eight media men have so far been killed in the violence-hit districts of the Frontier province and adjacent tribal belt."

Former Washington Post correspondent Imtiaz Ali, now studying at Yale University, had spoken with Khankhel's colleagues as they kept vigil over his body, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported. "They are waiting to see whose turn is next," he said.

"Taken from inside a refugee camp building, while listening to the Darfurian tribal shieks tell us they want Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir punished by the International Criminal Court. Outside, the children are listening," writes Ann Curry of NBC News. (Credit: Ann Curry/NBC News)

Short Takes

  • "We traveled to the Chad/Darfur border with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof and actor/activist George Clooney, two men you might not guess have much in common, but both are smart and funny ‚Äî and care deeply about Darfur," NBC's Ann Curry reported¬†on Wednesday. She found a schoolhouse in a refugee camp named for President Obama.¬† "In the last 12 days Curry has landed interviews ranging from octuplet mother Nadya Suleman to former Pres. Bill Clinton," reported TV Newser.
  • "Hip Hop Weekly, the magazine launched in 2007 by the Source co-founder David Mays, has nearly doubled the number of retail outlets the magazine will be distributed to, the magazine said today," Jason Fell reported¬†Tuesday for Folio magazine. "Curtis Circulation, Hip Hop Weekly's distributor, is increasing the number of stores where it delivers the bi-weekly magazine to more than 30,000. The magazine anticipates scaling back controlled circulation in 2009 from 50,000 to 20,000 and will launch subscriptions for the first time."
  • Kevin Klose, president emeritus of National Public Radio and president of the NPR Foundation, has been appointed dean of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, effective April 13, the college announced Wednesday. Klose is a former associate director of the U.S. Information Agency whose career in journalism "includes more than two decades as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post and leadership positions at U.S. Government-funded civilian broadcast services in the post-Cold War era," the announcement noted.
  • "After more than a decade on newsstands, Ming Pao Daily, a Chinese language newspaper based in San Francisco, kissed its readers goodbye on Valentine's Day," Jun Wang wrote¬†Wednesday for New America Media. "The newspaper, whose parent publisher is in Hong Kong, ran a 'ceasing publication announcement' on Saturday, saying it had been forced to withdraw from the market because its operations 'had been severely affected by the economic recession.'"¬†
  • Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, former city editor of the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune, has two new part-time jobs: news editor of the Public Press, "an emerging concept for a noncommercial daily Web/print/broadcast collaborative news service," and city editor of the Globe, a weekly based in San Leandro, Calif. The Public Press project is an initiative of Independent Arts & Media of San Francisco. Fitzhugh-Craig continues to write her "Stirring the Pot Minute" blog.
  • "Having had little luck getting picked up by U.S. cable and satellite providers, Al Jazeera English is taking its appeal to consumers via a grass roots marketing campaign that attempts to dispel long-held attitudes about the network," Marisa Guthrie reported¬†Wednesday for Broadcasting and Cable. "On Tuesday, Al Jazeera English launched a Website¬†that bluntly addresses popular perceptions about the English language off-shoot of Al Jazeera, the most-watched news network in the Middle East."
  • "BBC World Service's Spanish-language service,, is extending its presence in the Hispanic market by forging a regional alliance with MSN across Latin America and the United States to provide Spanish-language content online. The 2-year agreement, whose financials were not disclosed, includes audio, video clips and text news carrying information from BBC and BBCMundo," Laura Martinez reported¬†for Multichannel News.
  • More than 100 South Korean journalists gathered Monday to denounce media-related legislation being pushed by the ruling Grand National Party as "evil media legislation" that "kills democracy," the Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported.¬†"Together they signed and issued an "Emergency Declaration by Media Professionals Opposed to the Media Policy of the Current Administration," the second such emergency appeal by Korean journalists."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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If what the

If what the cartoonist/artist says is true, then he could be forgiven. However, if the intent was for the monkey to be Obama, and he was just denying it, then let him be damned for eternity. In my opinion, either he meant a monkey wrote the stimulus instead of Obama, or Obama was being compared to being a monkey for writing the stimulus.

N.Y. Post Chimp Cartoon Draws Outrage

When we allow irresponsible media giants and others in high positions to get away with negative racial comments we show others how much we hate ourselves and we tell others it’s okay to make racial jokes, and when those in power and the irresponsible media condones the actions of racists (Just like Imus) they must all be informed “This is not Right.” While I’ve never subscribed to the New York Post I know now I never will. But in these hard economic times it’s not the subscriptions the “Post “should be concerned with, but those “turn a blind eye” advertisers that I will no longer do business with.

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