New York Post in racism row over chimpanzee cartoon

African-American activist Al Sharpton claims newspaper may have portrayed Barack Obama using racist imagery

At first glance, the main editorial cartoon in today's New York Post seemed like just another lurid reference to the story that the tabloid had been covering with breathless abandon for two days running - the shooting by Connecticut police on Monday of a pet chimpanzee that viciously attacked his owner's friend.

But the caption cast the cartoon in a more sinister light. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," it read, prompting accusations that the Post was peddling a longstanding racist slur by portraying president Barack Obama, who signed the bill into law yesterday, as an ape.

In a statement issued today, Al Sharpton, the Baptist minister and civil rights activist, called the cartoon "troubling at best, given the historic racist attacks [on] African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys".

He added: "Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama ... and has become synonymous with him, it is not a reach to wonder: are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?... The Post should at best clarify what point they were trying to make, or in fact reprimand their cartoonist."

David Paterson, the governor of New York state, told a local television station that it was "very important for the New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray".

In response, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Col Allen, noted Sharpton's love of media attention. "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut," he said. "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

T-shirts portraying Obama as the children's book character Curious George, a monkey, made occasional appearances among audience members at Republican rallies during last year's election campaign, and a similar stuffed doll continues to be advertised online.

The Post's cartoonist Sean Delonas, meanwhile, has frequently been accused of bigotry: the New York gossip blog Gawker once nicknamed him "the Picasso of prejudice".

The criticism has centred on his portrayals of gay characters, which have linked homosexuality to bestiality. The pressure group Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has repeatedly called his work "juvenile" and "immature".

The Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, but John McCain in the general election.


Oliver Burkeman in Washington

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
New York Post apologises over chimp cartoon
Newspaper offers qualified apology after two days of protest over potential comparison with Barack Obama

Associated Press

20, Feb, 2009 @5:09 AM

Article image
Strauss-Kahn case maid sues New York Post over prostitute allegation
Newspaper and five of its journalists face lawsuit amid spate of leaks about alleged sexual attack

Dominic Rushe, Ed Pilkington in New York and Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

05, Jul, 2011 @8:12 PM

Article image
Yemeni bodegas boycott New York Post over attacks on Ilhan Omar
Murdoch-owned paper published front page that Yemeni American Merchants Association says ‘provoked hatred’

Lois Beckett

13, Apr, 2019 @5:07 PM

Article image
Rupert Murdoch issues personal apology for 'racist' chimpanzee cartoon

News Corporation chairman sorry for New York Post cartoon that critics labelled racist for likening a chimpanzee to Barack Obama. By Oliver Luft

Oliver Luft

24, Feb, 2009 @3:30 PM

Former New York Post editor claims discrimination in lawsuit

Sandra Guzman alleges that Rupert Murdoch's US newspaper fostered a 'hostile work environment'

Ed Pilkington in New York

11, Nov, 2009 @6:56 PM

Article image
Quentin Tarantino denies New York Post's bogus jail time claims
Oscar-winning film-maker breaks cover to dispute allegations he lied about spending time behind bars in interviews over a 23-year period

Ben Child

08, Dec, 2015 @11:05 AM

Article image
Is Murdoch tiring of Trump? Mogul’s print titles dump the ex-president
Tabloid with long relationship with former president blasts him over Capitol attack, saying he is unworthy to be elected again

Edward Helmore in New York

25, Jul, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
The New York Post: the game is up for Murdoch's plaything | Michael Wolff

Michael Wolff: Murdoch's once-mighty tabloid toy is out of time: the new News Corp can't carry the spectacularly loss-making vanity project

Michael Wolff

15, Apr, 2013 @1:59 PM

Article image
New York gossip queen Cindy Adams: ‘My loyalty is to anyone who’ll give me the best quote’
The 91-year-old tabloid columnist, the star of a new Showtime documentary, on Murdoch, Trump – and why New York is the capital of the world

Edward Helmore in New York

12, Sep, 2021 @5:30 AM

New York Post journalist 'sacked after monkey cartoon complaint' to sue
Former associate editor Sandra Guzman to sue newspaper, claiming she was dismissed after criticising Obama cartoon. By Chris Tryhorn

Chris Tryhorn and agencies

10, Nov, 2009 @5:54 PM