Is it a case of “too little, too late”?

The New York Times was forced to apologize on Sunday for an anti-Semitic cartoon involving President Trump.

It was published in the Opinion pages of its international edition on Thursday and brought widespread condemnation.

It portrayed a blind President Trump, wearing a skullcap.  In the cartoon, he was being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, drawn as a dog on a leash with a Star of David collar.

In an editors’ note that was published in Monday’s international edition, The New York Times apologized.

“The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it.”

Eileen Murphy is a New York Times spokeswoman.  She went on to say the paper was “deeply sorry” for publishing the cartoon.

“Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable,” Ms. Murphy said. “We are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again.”

The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, CNN, Fox News and others came down on The New York Times, writing articles about the cartoon.

“Apology not accepted,” the American Jewish Committee said. 

Why?  Because they should have known better.

“What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it?”

The cartoon was originally published in a newspaper in Lisbon called Expresso.  It was drawn by the Portuguese cartoonist António Moreira Antunes , then picked up by CartoonArts International, a syndicate for cartoons from around the world.

The New York Times Licensing Group sells content from CartoonArts, along with content from other publishers and material from The New York Times.  That content is bought by other news sites and customers around the globe.

In a post on The New York Times website, a writer says the Times’s United States edition does not typically publish political cartoons and did not run this one.  The international edition on the other hand, frequently includes them.

According to Murphy, an editor from The Times’s Opinion section downloaded this cartoon from the syndicate and decided to run with it.

Murphy refused to identify the editor, and wouldn’t say whether that person would be punished.

She said the editor was “working without adequate oversight” because of a “faulty process” that is now being reviewed.

“We are evaluating our internal processes and training,” Ms. Murphy said. “We anticipate significant changes.”

James Bennet is the editor who oversees all content on The Times’s editorial pages.  He punted when it came to commenting.

“I’m going to let our statement speak for us at this point,” Bennet said.

Bret Stephens is, an opinion columnist for The Times, and weighed in on the issue on Sunday.  He asked the newspaper to do “some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon,” which he called “an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism.”

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted about it on Sunday:

“We stand with Israel and we condemn antisemitism in ALL its forms.”

 

Sergio Florez is the managing editor for The Times’s Licensing Group.  He tried to explain how it happened.

He said the group brings in dozens of cartoons a week from CartoonArts through an automated feed to its website.  On it, publishers can review the cartoons and decide if they want to buy a license to reprint them.

He claims the group’s editors sporadically review the feed and remove anything that is biased or racist.

“Had we seen this cartoon in one of those sweeps, we definitely would have pulled it,” he said. It’s since been deleted from the Licensing Group’s collection.

So what’s being done now? According to Nancy Lee, the executive editor of the Licensing Group, the group is going to review its arrangement with CartoonArts.

According to her, it’s a licensing deal that’s been around for several decades.  CartoonArts is based in New York and was founded in 1978 by the cartoonist Jerry Robinson.  The mission was to bring global cartoons to a wider audience and is now run by his son, Jens Robinson.

“We receive and post cartoons from around the world of many shades of political opinion,” Robinson said. “The cartoon in question was viewed as political commentary. However, we understand the decision to remove it from the website.”

Antunes, a regular cartoonist for the paper since 1974, didn’t comment.

But in an interview with the Portuguese Observer in 2015, shortly after the fatal attack in Paris on the staff of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, he expressed concern about free speech.

“The profession of cartoonist is a profession of risk,” Antunes. “There is always fear, but there is no other option but to defend freedom of expression.”

Editor Note: We’ve decided that out of respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters along with President Trump, we will NOT publish the image of the cartoon.