Editors' Note: Guest blogger Justin Cole is the Director of Digital and Online Media for GLAAD - The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Last week, the controversy surrounding a cartoon by Sean Delonas, the New York Post editorial cartoonist, vaulted the New York City-based tabloid into the national spotlight. As I’ve written about here and here, the cartoon from Wednesday, February 18, depicted police officers having shot and killed a chimpanzee and made an implied reference to President Obama, saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
Soon after the edition of the Post with Delonas’ racist cartoon hit newsstands, a chorus of voices began questioning and condemning both Sean Delonas and the leadership at the New York Post, focusing on Col Allan, the Post’s editor-in-chief.
The Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, the NAACP, ColorOfChange.org, New York Governor David Patterson, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and many other local and state officials were some of the first voices in a loud and growing outcry over the Post’s ugly defamation.
GLAAD was also one of the voices joining in this chorus. We put together a slideshow of Delonas’ defamatory and anti-LGBT cartoons and issued a national Call to Action, asking supporters to contact the Post and its parent company, News Corp. As part of our mission and ongoing work, we felt it was important that continuing conversations about Delonas’ latest offense be put in the context of his long history of defamatory attacks, including those against LGBT people
It is also critical to note, however, that Delonas’ work is just a symptom of a larger problem at the New York Post. After all, activists formed GLAAD in 1985 as a direct result of the Post’s deplorable and defamatory coverage of the AIDS epidemic during the 1980’s.
Through the years, the Post has continued to engage in exploitative tabloid sensationalism of LGBT issues. Just since 2000, when Col Allan began his tenure as editor in chief, if you picked up a New York Post you could find headlines such as, “Tranny Heaven,” “Free to be He-She,” “Attack of the Killer Lesbians,” and many more (see the slideshow with more headlines below). In response, GLAAD issued numerous Calls to Action and the Post has made the “Worst” list on our “Best and Worst of National News” multiple times.
We’ve repeatedly had our supporters - our community and our allies - rise up and call for a change in the way the Post covers LGBT issues. Unfortunately, a majority of the time the calls and the letters and the protests have fallen on deaf ears.
Yesterday, news came that Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of the New York Post, had decided to publish a statement on the recent controversial Sean Delonas cartoon:
“As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me.
Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.
Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you - without a doubt - that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.
We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community.”
But looking through the catalog of anti-LGBT Sean Delonas cartoons and reflecting on the Post’s long history of hurtful and defamatory coverage, it is clear that real, substantive change needs to be made at the New York Post, and that change needs to come from the top.
Therefore, we at GLAAD are calling on Rupert Murdoch to take real and appropriate measures to stop the defamation at the New York Post.
Chairman and Chief Executive
1211 Avenue of Americas
NY, NY 10036
Phone: 212-852-7000 (Ask for Mr. Murdoch’s office)
You can also CC the News Corp Press Contacts on your email:
Teri Everett, Senior Vice President
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Jack Horner, Director
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Why Rupert Murdoch? Well, in Murdoch’s own words, “The buck stops with me.” As Chairman of the Post and owner of News Corp, which own the Post along with Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, the responsibility ultimately lies at his feet.
And after all, it’s clear that his editor in chief, Col Allan, won’t be a credible agent of change here.
Look through some of the Post’s coverage below and stand with GLAAD and its allies by calling on Rupert Murdoch to take real and appropriate measures to stop the New York Post from continuing its hurtful, inaccurate, and defamatory depictions and portrayals.
You can click here to view the individual images.
Sample of New York Post Stories:
Sean Delonas Cartoons:
- Click here for a slideshow of defamatory and anti-LGBT cartoons.
(Crossposted from GLAADBlog.)