Friday, February 20, 2009

New York Post offers

half-hearted apology for

chimpanzee cartoon

Updated Friday, February 20th 2009, 1:40 AM

Savulich/News

Protesters demonstrate against the New York Post chimpanzee stimulus cartoon.

It was a sorry excuse for an apology, but the New York Post finally caved in to outrage over a racially charged cartoon that some believed insulted President Obama - then went on the attack.

After demonstrators marched outside the fact-challenged tabloid and urged that it be boycotted, the Post relented on its Web site Thursday night with a "We're sorry" disguised as opinion and buried inside the homepage.

Here's what the beleaguered editorial team said of the controversial cartoon:

"It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

"Period.

"But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

"This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

"However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

"To them, no apology is due.

"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."

The "opportunist" crack was clearly a shot at the Rev. Al Sharpton, who criticized the cartoon and organized Thursday's protest.

Thursday night, Sharpton wasn't buying the apology.

"They made what could have been a noble gesture ignoble by trying to attack people at the same time they're trying to apologize to them. It's not opportunistic to say 'I've been offended.' This makes it hard to take them seriously."

Sharpton scoffed at suggestions the protest was payback for past Post attacks.

"They've done a number of cartoons on me over the years, and I've never marched on them. They just don't get it."

Sharpton said dollars and cents rather than sincerity prompted the apology.

"They brought the rhetoric down and got a little more civil after we raised the question of challenging their FCC waiver," which allows Rupert Murdoch to own multiple media outlets in the city.

He said the protest would be renewed today at 5 p.m.

Thursday an angry crowd called for the head of longtime Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, whose cartoon showed the bullet-riddled body of a chimp, shot by two cops, a reference to Monday's brutal chimp attack in Connecticut.

"They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one of the cops said.

Protestors chanted, "Shut down the Post!" and "We are not monkeys!" outside the paper's midtown offices.

An assortment of elected officials also blasted the Post, with City Councilman Charles Barron calling it "a racist rag."

"It is inappropriate, offensive, and I think the Post should have apologized," said city Controller Bill Thompson.

In addition to having Delonas fired, protesters - who filled the block outside the News Corp. building - were calling for any editors who signed off on the cartoon to be canned.

cboyle@nydailynews.com

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