A New York Post cartoon that appears to link President Obama's stimulus plan to a violent chimpanzee drew criticism Wednesday on media Web sites and from civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The cartoon in Wednesday's Post by Sean Delonas shows a dead chimp and two police officers, one with a smoking gun. The caption reads, “They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.''
The cartoon refers to Travis the chimp, who was shot to death by police in Stamford, Conn. on Monday after it mauled a friend of its owner.
“At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it,'' columnist Sam Stein wrote in the liberal-leaning Huffington Post. “Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.''
Stein's article drew hundreds of comments on the Huffington Post Web site, with many calling the cartoon racist and insensitive. Some urged a boycott of the Post and the companies that advertise with it while others denounced what they called the Republican slant of the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.
Hamilton Nolan wrote on Gawker.com that according to a tipster who was not identified, the Post was receiving threatening phone calls about the cartoon.
Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the New York Post, released a statement defending the work.
“The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.''
Sharpton called the cartoon “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.''
He said the Post should clarify what point the cartoon was making.
Delonas, the longtime cartoonist for the Post's Page Six, is known for heavy-handed caricatures. In a cartoon from last month, an enormous Jessica Simpson dumps boyfriend Tony Romo for Ronald McDonald.