Well, yes, it would require quite a contortion to find that Rupert Murdoch's New York Post had not compared the first black president to a monkey in an editorial cartoon.
Now, it is true that the Post has a certain vernacular involving public figures and comical animals that many people have come to quite enjoy. There was the 'Axis of Weasels' headline about the European nations that failed to support us in Iraq, and 'Surrender Monkeys,' specifically about the French. Col Allan, the editor of the Post who has worked for Murdoch for more than 30 years, described to me the Post's affect as a "post-modern" tabloid. That is, everybody understands that the Post is aping, so to speak, its own traditions, it's an exaggeration of an exaggeration, and everybody is in on the joke (although in this conversation Allan pointed out, with some amusement, that he did not think Rupert Murdoch quite understood that the Post had become post-modern).
Undoubtedly, Allan has been assuring himself and his staff that this latest animal-politician caricature is just another instance of pretty sophisticated tabloid humor.
In his pugnacious way, Allan tried yesterday to confront mounting outrage against the Post by heaping scorn upon Al Sharpton, who naturally issued a statement of reproach. "The cartoon," said Allan, "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." Allan's game here--one the Post has often played--is to use Sharpton's own publicity talents to gleefully generate more press for the Post.
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