Caught in a racial row and faced with threats of boycott, the New York Post apologised on Friday over its controversial political cartoon, depicting the drafter of the US economic stimulus package as a chimpanzee, which many believe was a caricature of President Barack Obama.
The apology came after two days of demonstrations which saw hundreds of protesters chanting slogans against the paper outside its headquarters in New York City. The right-wing paper, however, maintained that the cartoon was not racist.
There was widespread anger among the Democrats and their supporters over the cartoon which showed a police officer telling his colleague who had just shot dead a chimpanzee that: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
The paper posted an editorial on its website, saying the cartoon was meant to mock an "ineptly written" federal stimulus bill, but to "those who were offended by the content we apologise".
"...It has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism... Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as opportunists seek to make it something else," it said.
The Democrats believe the cartoon saw in it implicit comparison between chimpanzee and Obama who had signed the USD 787 billion stimulus package into law on Tuesday. The cartoon was inspired by an incident in Connecticut where police officers shot dead a 200-pound chimpanzee after it attacked and seriously injured the owner's friend and then
attacked police officers.
What added fuel to fire was that on the reverse side of the cartoon, a photograph of Obama, the first black American
President, signing the stimulus bill into law was published.
The Democratic leaders demanded explanation from the paper, saying that several people felt outraged by it.
The cartoon was drawn by Sean Delonas. Reports quoted journalists at the paper as saying that telephone callers protesting the cartoon had jammed its lines.