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.
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Oh and here's the 'antisemitic' cartoon that started it all off: