The New York Times will reportedly stop publishing political cartoons weeks after it apologized for an anti-Semitic illustration featuring President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Patrick Chappatte, a political cartoonist whose work has frequently appeared in the Times, published a post on his web site on Monday saying that the ‘Gray Lady’ will be ‘ending in-house political cartoons’ beginning in July.
‘I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work undone by a single cartoon – not even mine – that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world,’ Chappatte wrote.
‘In 20-plus years of delivering a twice-weekly cartoon for the International Herald Tribune first, and then The New York Times, and after receiving three OPC awards in that category, I thought the case for political cartoons had been made (in a newspaper that was notoriously reluctant to the form in past history.)
‘But something happened.’
The Times in late April apologized for an anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in the newspaper’s international edition.
It showed Netanyahu as a dachshund wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind and skullcap-wearing President Trump.
The Times says the image ‘included anti-Semitic tropes.’ The cartoon appeared Thursday in print.
A tweet from the New York Times Opinion account Saturday said the image ‘was offensive, and it was an error in judgment to publish it.’
The Times says the cartoon was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.
The cartoon ignited widespread outrage, especially among Jewish organizations, who demanded that the Times take steps to address the issue.
The author of the cartoon dismissed the outrage over the drawing as a misunderstanding ‘made through the Jewish propaganda machine.’
Portuguese artist António Moreira Antunes, who has been drawing political cartoons for 45 years, said last month that he has the ‘utmost respect’ for the past of Jewish people, referring to the horrors they endured during the Holocaust, but qualified that statement by adding that that past does not mean Jewish people are ‘above criticism.’
‘The Jewish right doesn’t want to be criticized, and therefore, when criticized they say, “We are a persecuted people, we suffered a lot… this is anti-Semitism,”‘ he said.
The Times confirmed Chappatte’s post on Monday, though it said that it had been considering the move well before the controversy over the Netanyahu cartoon erupted.
James Bennet, the editorial page editor of the newspaper, released a statement saying: ‘We’re very grateful for and proud of the work Patrick Chappatte and Heng Kim Song have done for the international edition of The New York Times, which circulates overseas; however, for well over a year we have been considering bringing that edition into line with the domestic paper by ending daily political cartoons and will do so beginning on July 1st.
‘We plan to continue investing in forms of Opinion journalism, including visual journalism, that express nuance, complexity and strong voice from a diversity of viewpoints across all our platforms.
‘Just last year, The New York Times for the first time in its history won a Pulitzer in the category of political cartooning, for a nonfiction series by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan telling the story of a Syrian refugee family.
‘We intend to do more such work and hope to collaborate with Patrick and Heng and others on such projects in the future.’
Chappatte lamented the ‘moralistic mobs’ on social media who have dealt ‘overwhelming blows’ on newsrooms.
‘I’m afraid this is not just about cartoons, but about journalism and opinion in general,’ he wrote.
‘We are in a world where moralistic mobs gather on social media and rise like a storm, falling upon newsrooms in an overwhelming blow.
‘This requires immediate counter-measures by publishers, leaving no room for ponderation or meaningful discussions.
‘Twitter is a place for furor, not debate. The most outraged voices tend to define the conversation, and the angry crowd follows in.’
Critics blasted the Times for the decision to stop publishing political cartoons.
‘This is a horrible decision by the NYT,’ CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted on Monday.
After the Times responded to Tapper by posting the statement released by Bennet, Tapper tweeted: ‘The larger issue [in my honest opinion]is why such a great newspaper has historically had such a sneering attitude towards editorial cartooning.’
Journalist Jeff Stein tweeted: ‘Unbelievable. Re-think this, @nytimes.’
‘NY Times prints one awful cartoon and now decides to stop running cartoons,’ tweeted journalist Jeet Heer.
‘By this logic, the paper should have shut down after its 2002-2003 WMD reporting.’
The ‘WMD reporting’ is a reference to the paper’s coverage of claims by President George W. Bush’s administration that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, no such weapons were ever found.
Paul Biedermann tweeted: ‘This explanation makes no sense. How does ending daily political cartoons serve the purpose of providing nuanced visual journalism to your readers?
‘I’ll bet if you took a poll, your readership would like more political cartoons, not less.’