The New York Times announced that it will no longer publish daily political cartoons in its international edition, in the wake of backlash over a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered antisemitic.
In the announcement made on Monday, the Times ended its relationship with two contract cartoonists.
The international edition stopped running syndicated political cartoons two months ago.
In late April, the New York Times international edition published a political cartoon that showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog (a dachshund) wearing a Star of David collar and leading President Donald Trump, who is wearing a black kippah.
The newspaper later acknowledged that the cartoon “included antisemitic tropes” and that it was “an error of judgement to publish it.”
James Bennet, editorial page editor, in a statement on Monday said that “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 July 1.”
One of the fired cartoonists, Patrick Chappatte, wrote on his personal blog: “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.”
He added: “I’m afraid this is not just about cartoons, but about journalism and opinion in general. 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.”
The New York Times won its first Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning last year, for a series that told the story of a Syrian refugee family.
PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel released the statement below: “We sincerely hope the New York Times will reconsider the decision to retire cartoons from its International edition. Free speech and open discourse demands an understanding that mistakes and offences will occur, and a determination that these not be answered by shutting down expression to avert future lapses. In an age of fast-evolving social mores and heightened awareness of offence, political cartooning has become a risky business. But if outlets like the New York Times retreat from this uniquely potent form of political commentary, it may hasten the death of a form that has contributed immensely to our political conversation over time. The possibility of offence must not be reason to shut down valued channels of speech. As a leader in media the New York Times can get this right and help us to see how cartoons can continue to provide insight and inspiration amid our shared global commitment to eradicating bigotry.”