News Corp has defended a cartoon which sparked widespread outrage with claims of racism after it was published in The Australian newspaper.
The masthead published a cartoon featuring US Presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on Friday.
The cartoon, created by Johannes Leak, depicts Mr Biden saying: “It’s time to heal a nation divided by racism ... So I’ll hand you over to this little brown girl while I go for a lie down.”
The comic strip was called “appalling”, “repulsive”, “disgusting” and “shameful”.
So how on earth does Murdoch editor Chris Dore justify publishing a racist and sexist cartoon about a US Senator who is likely to be the next Vice-President of the US? Murdoch is a Trump mouthpiece. But this is gross even by Murdoch’s gutter standards. pic.twitter.com/EWwsfEaKOq— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) August 14, 2020
Yahoo News Australia contacted the publication and its editor-in-chief Chris Dore on Friday.
Mr Dore defended Mr Leak’s cartoon to The Guardian, saying “Johannes was quoting Biden’s words” and pointed to a tweet the 77-year-old candidate posted on Thursday.
However, that tweet was quite clearly not referring to Ms Harris but a hypothetical little girl in America who would be inspired by her appointment as Vice President. Mr Dore did not respond further when this was put to him, The Guardian said.
Not all staff at The Australian are onside with the editor’s defence of the cartoon though, with an employee telling Yahoo News Australia, “the company deserves to pay”.
That employee also shared correspondence sent to everyone from the company by News Corp Australia executive Campbell Reid.
In the email, Mr Reid deemed accusations Mr Leak’s cartoon is racist as “outrageous” and said cartoons are meant to be “provocative and confronting”.
“The intention of Johannes's commentary was to ridicule identity politics and demean racism, not perpetuate it,” Mr Reid said.
This morning, little girls woke up across this nation — especially Black and Brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society — potentially seeing themselves in a new way: As the stuff of Presidents and Vice Presidents.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2020
“Clearly context is everything in our business, and while we know our readers are widely read and informed not everyone will be across every piece of source material or relevant background, particularly when it comes to a cartoon.
“We certainly have to be aware of our content being misconstrued, sometimes unintentionally, often wilfully, based on readers not having the full context readily before them. It's worth remembering cartoons are meant to be provocative and confronting.”
He added “The Australian utterly oppose racism in all its guises” and attacks on Mr Leak are “unwarranted”.
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