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11 Jun, 2019 05:06

NY Times drops political cartoons, sense of humor over fallout from ‘antisemitic’ graphic

NY Times drops political cartoons, sense of humor over fallout from ‘antisemitic’ graphic

The New York Times has stopped publishing political cartoons over a month after experiencing heavy backlash over a controversial cartoon featuring a blind President Donald Trump led by a seeing-eye PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Times made its official announcement after the paper’s in-house cartoonist leaked their plans in a blog post. Complaining about the “moralistic mobs” that “gather on social media and rise like a storm,” cartoonist Pat Chappatte – who did not draw the offending cartoon – nevertheless slammed the image as something “that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world,” blunting his message with the suggestion that he sympathized with the outrage mobs in this case.

The media need to renew themselves and reach out to new audiences. And stop being afraid of the angry mob,” Chappatte wrote, attaching a final cartoon featuring a sad-looking artist with broken pencil gazing down at a memorial to the cartoonists murdered in 2015’s Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. “In the insane world we live in, the art of the visual commentary is needed more than ever. And so is humor.

The Times promised to “continue investing in forms of Opinion journalism, including visual journalism,” and bragged that it had finally won a Pulitzer in political cartooning for a series about a Syrian refugee family last year and “hoped to collaborate” with the cartoonists it was firing “in the future.” According to editorial page editor James Bennet, the decision had been underway for over a year.

The backlash to the Times’ decision was immense – if not as immense as the original wave of hate that followed the publication of the offending cartoon. A cartoonist for the Washington Post cancelled her subscription, informing the paper of the reason, only to be offered a lower subscription rate.

While the Times quickly apologized and deleted the Trump/Netanyahu cartoon after its publication in April, the move only served to energize the paper’s foes, and its apology – “the image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it” – was deemed insufficiently apologetic. The ranks of the genuinely-offended were swollen with long-time enemies of the paper merely looking for another reason to attack the “neo-Nazi NYTimes” for “playing a prominent role in normalizing antisemitism.”

Also on rt.com ‘Low point in history’: Critics blast NY Times over ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon & more

An Israeli cartoonist even used it as an opportunity to attack the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, blaming the peaceful protest for leading the Times astray with his own cartoon. Even publisher AG Sulzberger’s announcement that employees would be subjected to a course of bias training with an emphasis on antisemitism, and the Times’ promise to never again run syndicated cartoons created by artists not directly employed by the paper, did not deter the angry mob. Antonio Moreira Antunes, a 45-year veteran of political cartooning, told CNN he does not believe his work is anti-semitic at all, blaming “the Jewish Right” for seeking to annihilate criticism by equating it to antisemitism.

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