|The chimpanzee is commonly believed to represent President Obama.|
Rev. Al Sharpton stated at the time that the cartoon "is troubling at
best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being
synonymous with monkeys," and since the stimulus bill was
"the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama."
Photo credit: Think Progress
News Editors in the past have come under fire for their role in the publishing of offensive materials. In fact, according to this story from Imediaethics.org, an editor in Los Angeles was fired from their posting at the Brentwood Patch for the publishing of an offensive Cinco de Mayo themed cartoon. With the rise of social media, editors must be in tune more than ever to how the cartoons and the images housed within their pages will be received by the general public. Images and stories surrounding this cartoon related to Ferguson Missouri and this cartoon from The New Yorker spread across the Internet like wildfire. (In fact, you can view every New Yorker cover featuring Obama on their special slideshow here). The news outlets received backlash from one side of the country to the next, something that would seem unlikely in the past due to the limited circulation of some of these outlets.
Some claim these cartoons are not intended to be racist, that in fact it is the public who has become too sensitive to this type of humor, or simply just does not ‘get the joke.’ That is one opinion, another is that maybe the general public has simply evolved from the ‘level of humor’ that can be found in these ’50 most offensive’ compilation. Whichever the reason for the rise in the backlash felt by editors, one thing is clear… with social media and ethical watchdog groups everywhere, cartoonists and editors alike should be wary of a joke in which they are the only ones laughing.
- Carol Davey
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New York Magazine
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