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The New York Times Repeatedly Called a Famous Cartoonist an Anti-Semite --- and Didn't Ask Him for Comment
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Earlier this year, Portuguese cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes drew one of the most controversial political cartoons in history. His cartoon about U.S.-Israeli relations sparked so much controversy that The New York Times, whose international edition published it in April, decided to fire its two staff cartoonists, neither of whom had anything to do with it. Then the Times permanently banned all editorial cartooning.

Antunes took the most flak from the Times itself, as it furiously backpedaled from its own editorial decision to publish his cartoon. In five news stories and editorials, the newspaper of record unreservedly described Antunes’ cartoon as anti-Semitic. American media outlets followed the Times’ lead.

“I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m anti-Zionist,” Antunes told me. “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I am in favor of two countries, and I am against all annexations made by Israel.” The Times censored Antunes’ side of the story from its readers.

Was Antunes’ cartoon, a metaphorical illustration depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding the leash of a dog in the form of a blind President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic? That question is both inherently subjective and eminently debatable. “The cartoon is not anti-Semitic, but many political and religious sectors classify any criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic,” Antunes said in an interview.

Pro-Israel groups disagreed. On the other hand, many cartoonists thought there was nothing wrong with it.

But that’s not how the Times covered it. In article after article, Antunes’ cartoon was described as anti-Semitic. It was an objective truth. No one could doubt the cartoon’s anti-Semitism more than the fact that Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States.

“Times Apologizes for Publishing Anti-Semitic Cartoon,” read the headline on April 28.

Not “allegedly anti-Semitic.”

Not “cartoon criticized as anti-Semitic.”

In an April 30 editorial, the paper called Antunes’ work “an appalling political cartoon” and “an obviously bigoted cartoon.” It explained: “The cartoon was chosen from a syndication service by a production editor who did not recognize its anti-Semitism.” Not “its possible anti-Semitism.”

Two more articles on the subject appeared May 1: “Times Disciplines Editor and Cancels Cartoon Contract Over Anti-Semitic Drawing” (we don’t know what that discipline entailed, but unlike the cartoonist, the editor wasn’t fired) and “After the Publication of an Anti-Semitic Cartoon, Our Publisher Says We’re Committed to Making Changes.” The text of both pieces described the cartoon as self-evidently anti-Semitic.

On June 10, a Times article announced the end of political cartooning at the Gray Lady. Antunes’ cartoon, the Times stated flatly, contained “anti-Semitic imagery.”

Accusing a political cartoonist of anti-Semitism is as serious as it gets. So something jumped out at me as I read the Times’ repeated characterizations of Antunes’ cartoon as anti-Semitic, so devoid of mitigating language: Where was his response?

“The New York Times never contacted me at any time,” Antunes now says.

I reached Antunes via Facebook; he replied via email.

Contacting the subject of a news story for comment is Journalism 101, a basic ethos taught to students at high school newspapers. That goes double when the article is critical.

ORDER IT NOW

“Few writers need to be reminded that we seek and publish a response from anyone criticized in our pages,” the Times says in its Guidelines on Integrity. “But when the criticism is serious, we have a special obligation to describe the scope of the accusation and let the subject respond in detail. No subject should be taken by surprise when the paper appears, or feel that there was no chance to respond.” Given the gravity of the criticism leveled against Antunes, the Times appears to have fallen woefully short of its own standards.

Antunes isn’t a recluse. He’s one of the most prominent cartoonists in Europe. I found him. So did other newspapers.

The Times could have contacted the New York-based syndicate from which it bought Antunes’ cartoon; the syndicate has his contact information, as they do of all their contributors’.

Though scarred by his experience, Antunes says he has not lost business. “The U.S. media,” he says, “are prisoners of political correctness, right-wing turning and social media.” Europe, he says, is more tolerant.

What’s clear is that the Times threw its cartoonist under the bus in a shockingly cavalier fashion — a practice that has become so common it’s contributing to the imminent extinction of political cartooning.

The Times owes Antunes an apology. They owe the two fired cartoonists their jobs back, along with back pay. Political cartoons should resume their rightful place in the paper.

Finally, the Times owes its readers an assurance that they will never again succumb to the siren call of “fake news” as part of an ethically challenged witch hunt.

 
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  1. The Washington Post has done the same sort of thing recently with headlines and articles in the news (rather than opinion) section that call Trump’s tweets “racist” without any qualification or attribution.

  2. Europe, he says, is more tolerant.

    Sure, tell that to the people in jail for the “crime” of questioning any part of the official Holocaust narrative; Next, show me the cartoons of Muhammed this guy has published recently.

  3. The cartoon is not “anti-Semitic”… It’s blasphemous.

    • Agree: Tusk
  4. “Was Antunes’ cartoon, a metaphorical illustration depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding the leash of a dog in the form of a blind President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic?” I don’t understand this statement. Shouldn’t it be, “… a metaphorical illustration depicting a blind President Donald Trump (wearing a yarmulke) holding the leash of a dog in the form of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu …?

    • Agree: Liza, Digital Samizdat
    • Replies: @Fabian Forge
  5. @Brian Dunaway

    Yes. Also, the dog is plainly Golda Meir, not Netanyahu.

  6. Truth3 says:

    Anti-Semitic Cartoon of the Day

    https://www.jpost.com/HttpHandlers/ShowImage.ashx?id=331962&w=898&h=628

    You may now return to your scheduled programming.

  7. The editor was probably a Negro.

  8. Gunga Din says:

    I’m old enough to remember when northern newspapers worried about offending White Southerners, not jews.

    • Replies: @Astraea
  9. Steve Hayes says: • Website

    The New York Times daily publishes false facts. It is not a newspaper. It is a propaganda organisation. This ought to be obvious to everyone.

    • Agree: Richard B
  10. The metaphor of the cartoon was simply a “jewish state” guide dog leading the blind sycophant into global isolation and another war.. It’s no more complicated than that…

  11. Wait… I thought Trump was supposed to be the anti-Semite. I’m getting PC whiplash.

  12. Richard B says:

    Treason Against Jewish Supremacy Is Loyalty To Humanity!

    Making the assusation of “antisemitism” a source of pride.

    Then again, such an obvious fact is hard to see when you’re blinded by chutzpah.

    And if ever there was a people so full of themselves they literally can’t see straight it’s them.

  13. Astraea says:
    @Gunga Din

    I wish somebody would explain to me what IS “anti-semitism” exactly?
    If it is supposed to mean dislike or hatred of Jews – I have never met anyne who hates Jews – but there are many people who are afraid of the Jews – especially of this accusation
    Is it actually fear of the Jews – this “anti-semitism”?

    I find it all so strange. To me it seems to be a fantasy of some kind.
    Are they simply trying to stop all criticism of anything the powerful leading Jews do – then it is nothing b ut a clever ploy and bullying tactic and should be resisted and criticised a LOT.

    It seems to me to be a clever lie and those who use it should be ashamaed of themselves – but of course, they are shameless – and see no value in dignity.

  14. Nauseating to see the Jews wrecking the culture that the founders built–right in front of our eyes.

  15. Also interesting that this article is eight days old at the moment and no hasbarists have shown up to contest it or attempt to spin it.

    The tendency of the increasing influx of aggressive hasbarist Jews at TUR is to stay away from pieces and comments that focus on Jewish behavior and actions and try to keep the discussion in the much more nebulous realm of Jewish beliefs and thoughts. Abstraction is the Hasbarist’s friend since there, he has much more scope for his pilpul tactics and rhetorical sleights.

    This piece simply documents the Jewish media’s willingness to do anything to protect Jewry from criticism. What can a Hasbarist do with this piece? Nothing.

    As much as possible, raiding Hasbarists should be confronted with concrete examples of Jew malfeasance and hypocrisy. There’s no shortage of those so it shouldn’t be too hard. It’s like the sun’s first rays shining on a vampire, giving him no escape.

  16. “The U.S. media,” he says, “are prisoners of political correctness, right-wing turning and social media.” Europe, he says, is more tolerant.

    Actually, with regard to the Judenfrage, contemporary Europe is even worse than the US. Go ask all the stalwart Labour Party members, such as Ken Livingston and Chris Williamson, who have been expelled for telling the the truth about the Zionists. Go ask Alain Soral, who has been jailed for exposing the Zionist control of France. And let’s not even mention Germany!

    No, Europe is no bastion of free speech.

    Finally, the Times owes its readers an assurance that they will never again succumb to the siren call of “fake news” as part of an ethically challenged witch hunt.

    The Jew York Times is fake news.

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