Rupert Murdoch apologizes for NY Post chimp cartoon

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – New York Post Chairman Rupert  Murdoch apologized in print yesterday for a cartoon that  ignited protests from readers who saw it as a racist depiction  of President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.
The Post previously issued a partial apology in an  editorial, saying no apology was due to “some in the media and  in public life who have had differences with The Post.” That  was seen as a reference to civil rights activist Al Sharpton,  who led the protests against the cartoon.

In an article headlined “Statement from Rupert Murdoch” on  page 2, Murdoch said the Feb. 18 cartoon was a mistake that  offended many people.

“Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who  felt offended, and even insulted,” said Murdoch, head of the  media giant News Corp, which owns the Post.

“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,” Murdoch wrote.

The cartoon of a policeman shooting an ape played on the  real shooting of a pet chimpanzee in Connecticut. A police  officer in the cartoon says, “They’ll have to find someone else    to write the next stimulus bill.”
The cartoon ran a day after Obama signed into law the $787  billion economic stimulus that he had strongly promoted, and  the connection offended those who likened it to the racist,  historic comparison of blacks to lower primates.

Demonstrators led by Sharpton chanted “End racism now!”  outside the News Corp headquarters and called for the jailing  of Murdoch.

The newspaper initially defended the cartoon as a parody of  Washington politics, but Sharpton said it exploited a potent  image in the history of racism toward black people.

“I have had conversations with Post editors about the  situation and 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,” Murdoch  said.

The cartoon linked the stimulus bill to an incident in  Stamford, Connecticut, where police shot and killed a 200-pound  (90 kg) chimpanzee after the pet nearly killed its owner’s  friend and attacked a police car.

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