New York Post Editorial Cartoon Appears to Depict Obama As (Dead) Chimpanzee

At their best, editorial cartoons are a wonderful way to examine politics in a slightly different light. An editorial cartoon that appeared in today's New York Post shows us just what editorial cartoons can be at their worst. Just in case the NY Post decides to try and dump this one down the memory hole, here's a copy of the cartoon:


Words simply fail. If you want to express your opinion of this particular piece of art, you can contact the New York post at (212) 930-8500, or email the Page Six editor, Richard Johnson,

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wait, wait, but, but, it was in the news you see...and, and, and it didn't actually mean Obama I mean, pshaw, it wasn't him actually writing the thing, we meant...umm, Congress, yeah that's the ticket (and not the black ones, neither). ooo, ooo, ooh, and you are too's just a cartoon.....hey, don't you understand gonzo journalism and the TraditionofEditorialCartooning d00d?

By BikeMonkey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2009 #permalink

This is a sick cartoon. There is simply no defending it.

Quoting another (Pulitzer Prize winning, as it happens) editorial cartoonist,

I don't aim to please, I just aim.

In this case, I think "aim" came right after "Ready, fire, ..."

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 18 Feb 2009 #permalink

It's only funny if the stimulus bill was crazy and out of control. And it wasn't portrayed that way. Remember that Bush gave away $700 billion with no strings attached (yes, I know, half of it is still unspent). Obama's bill has more stringent strings such as salary caps.

This kinda stuff was funny when Bush was in office. How is this any different. People need to stop reading into things such as this. Anyone with common sense can figure out that the cartoon is depicting congress as the chimp.

given that bush was frequently portrayed as a chimp, and the old joke about a room full of monkeys and shakespeare, I can actually see a way to regard this is funny. however in today's world it shows a stunning lack of forethought on the part of the cartoonist not to see all the other ways that this could be interpreted. and if this was done intentionally, ick.

it is worth noting that the monkey in the image is not actually a caricature of obama. in that there are no recognizable characteristics of obama apparent in the drawing of the chimp. certainly not in the same way the the bush/chimp images were recognizable caricatures. given that, I think that the thought going through the cartoonist's mind was probably along the lines of "hell, a monkey could have written a better bill..."

sometimes a monkey is just a monkey.

this may be a good moment to reference "Hanlon's razor", "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

@Rocker (#5):

You're absolutely right. Everyone knows that Congress is often depicted as a single enraged primate, and that nobody has ever used a chimp in a racist caricature before now.

I don't get this (I haven't been following the news closely). Who are the cops meant to represent?

I'm wondering if the cartoonist meant another interpretation, but I can't see what.

This cartoon is meant to recall the chimp attack that has been on the news recently. The implication is that the stimulus bill was written by a mad chimp, not that the mad chimp in question was Obama.

It is a poor cartoon, but I can't see it as intentionally targeting Obama. Just a stupid choice (how do I get the mad chimp story into a cartoon? I know, the chimp wrote the stimulus bill!) and a lot of people more than willing to see it as something more.

also worth looking through the cartoonist's catalog, he does have a record of picking a portrayal of a political figure and sticking with it. see november 11th for a comparison.

yes people have used a chimp as a racist metaphor, which is deplorable, but it does not follow that every use of the image of a chimp is a racist metaphor. going by the last several months of cartoons he has drawn, he seems more likely to apply the chimp to bush than obama.

I guess its just because I'm a dumb scientist, but I really have no clue what exactly the artist is portraying here. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that he or she is not suggesting that President Obama is the chimp and by being murdered a new author will be required. But that's definitely a thought that came to mind when I saw it. If the chimp is congress, who just made them powerless? Are the cops representing democratic leadership, emasculating congress (a crazy chimp?)? If that is the case, how does the quote fit in with the chimp being shot? Did congress author the stimulus bill?

I mean the bill passed even, so why would anyone be getting shot unless its (hopefully) the depression that we're trying to avoid? Even that makes no sense in light of the statement made by the police officer.

Seriously, this might be too subtle/esoteric for its own good.

It feels to me like this is manufactured outrage. It's hyper-reaction to a non-issue. Is any cartoon with a chimp off limits for the next 4 (maybe 8) years, just because in the past some people have used it to be racist? I looked at this and tried to interpret it as being Obama, but it made no sense. Who are the cops? Why'd the shoot Obama? Did he actually write the stimulus bill? The cartoon made absolutely no sense to me at all until I saw someone's comment here about the chimp shooting - then it made perfect sense. Subtle, yes. Easy to misinterpret, maybe. Racist, not as far as I can tell.

further, in the history of the political cartoon, congress has been depicted as a single enlarged ___________ [fill in species here] any number of times.

thomas nast was famous for it, depicting NY city hall as a tiger. for another example the origin of the elephant and donkey metaphors. and by the same token, because of that image it is difficult to look at a drawing of a donkey or an elephant without associating it with a particular party... (though I thought the NY times as a unicorn was curious) but it is possible that when presented with an image using a donkey or an elephant as a metaphor, the artist might be using the reference of what the elephant or donkey is also (justifiably or not) famous for.

(as a side note about the nast cartoon, it's kind of interesting that the democrats got saddled with the donkey image, as in the picture the donkey is even labeled "N.Y. Herald" it's the little fox down in front that is supposed to be the democratic party. even with clear labeling people managed to get the wrong association...)

I drew editorial cartoons for the newspaper in college, and I had some, one in particular, completely blow up in my face when I wasn't expecting them to (the one in particular led to official public censure by a major student-faculty committee).

With this one, I think the cartoonist is playing off of the "Crazy/Mad Chimp Mauls Woman" headlines as portraying Congree as being out of control in their violent political bickering over the stimulus bill. The cartoonist should have thought more about how this could be interpreted, and so should've his editors. It was a really bad metaphor that could have been done much better. Depicting elephants stampeding in a circle would have gotten the point across much more clearly and less offensively.

Doesn't look like Obama to me, nor does it look to me like it was intended as such. I might be wrong, but it looks like they combined the recent news story about the chimpanzee with a general disdain of the stimulus, as in "even a chimp could have done better".

Look, here's the thing, "sometimes a monkey is just a monkey" people, and I shouldn't have to explain this.

We all know the racist imagery that was thrown around so casually by conservative voters during the campaign. Even if a chimp is just a chimp, an editorial cartoonist (even for a paper as ludicrous as the NYPost) should know better than to insert a simian joke into a political situation that is already racially charged. It just isn't funny or appropriate, even if it was intended entirely innocently.

On top of all that, the point of the cartoon escapes me anyway -- it's a very poorly thought-out and incoherent attempt to tie a political issue to a current story. (To the extent it makes any sense at all, it's treating a failure of the stimulus package as a foregone conclusion, which only makes sense if you're the sort of person who reads the NYPost.)

Is any cartoon with a chimp off limits for the next 4 (maybe 8) years, just because in the past some people have used it to be racist?


Next question?

By BikeMonkey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2009 #permalink

Wow folks! The New York Post hit a new low, which is quite a stretch. The cartoon depicting the
corpse of a chimp with bullet holes and the question about who would write the next
stimulus bill is a blatantly racist invitation to view anyone involved in the writing and the
passage of the Recovery Plan as less than human and thus a fair target. If the cartoonist doesn't
know the history of that image and the irresponsibility of advocating violently targeting
someone with a differing political view, then the cartoonist, editors and publishers of this
newspaper need to be returned to school. I will be contacting every one of the advertisers
who supports that rag and let them know I will be boycotting them and why. I will also
be urging everyone else to do the same.

Brian X @ 18

We all know the racist imagery that was thrown around so casually by conservative voters during the campaign. Even if a chimp is just a chimp, an editorial cartoonist (even for a paper as ludicrous as the NYPost) should know better than to insert a simian joke into a political situation that is already racially charged.

No, you don't have to explain it, but this is exactly why it is worth establishing how it was meant. just the phrase "should have known better" sort of implies that even you think it was stupidity rather than malice. it might even imply that you were aware of alternate interpretations of the cartoon. presume for a moment that to the cartoonist, chimp does not equal Obama, (again, given his recent output, the cartoonist's kneejerk association is far more likely to be chimp==Bush) and the cartoon becomes a rather unfortunate joke about a recent event in the tri-state area, with a reference to some people's view of a recent congressional spending package. (btw, how, exactly, is the Stimulus bill fight "racially charged"?) the cartoon does not even implicitly make Obama the chimp. at worst, it implies that Obama (or congress) hired the chimp to write the bill.

on another note, as far as that sheep cartoon, my reaction to it is that it is a caricature of an extremist's view of gay marriage, rather than a caricature of gay marriage itself. but I can see how it would be interpreted the other way. perhaps I am being too generous. perhaps others are being too harsh. again, perhaps this is a cartoon that could have been improved by having a caption that actually made the cartoonist's intent clear, rather than having him rely on the interpretation of every viewer. ambiguity is not the friend of the political cartoonist, neither, apparently, is shortsightedness. Nast (among many others,) had labels on everything for just this sort of reason. this is subjective stuff. this artist isn't very good and apparently prone to widely varying interpretations of his work.

this isn't science. this is a (mediocre) cartoon. btw, what others? I looked at a bunch of his stuff from the last 4 months or so, and saw nothing else of particularly egregious taste. poor execution, and apparently politics that differ from mine, but nothing that I would identify as vile as opposed to simply insensitive. anyone know if he's been interviewed anywhere? any idea what he's actually like?

This cartoon is completely disrespectful to our new president Barack Obama. This cartoon should have never been printed knowing that a gorilla was used as a negeative term towards african americans. New York Post Shame Shame Shame on you.

I don't think it's referring to Obama - probably it's the monkeys and Shakespeare thing, combined with a reference to the recent chimp attack..

But it is sickening. It is horrible. It doesn't throw any light on the stimulus and it is not funny. Every cartoonist is allowed an off day now and again, but - ugh! Did the newspaper think it was doing itself any favors by printing it?

I think the Cartoon showing the chimpanzee being shot by the police and reference to the writer of the stimulus package is very offensive. I am suggesting to everyone I know to check out the sponsors of your media and to discontinue buying their products or services. Rupert Murdoch, whatever nationality he is, should fall on his knees. Comment about Al sharpton is ridulous. He is an activist and what activist do is bring to light issues that need exposure. It's people like those represented by the Washington Post that make it necessary to have activist like Al sharpton.

The Op and the commentators demonstrate far more racism than did the artist who drew the cartoon. A racist is a person who treats people differently based upon their skin color. The OP and many posters have said that it is wrong to treat Obama the same way that Bush was treated solely because of his skin color. Only a racist would declare that people of different skin hues must be treated differently.

"This cartoon is completely disrespectful to our new president Barack Obama..."

Right, you clowns called Bush names like Hitler, Chimp, Shrub, etc, for 8 years, and *this* ambiguous cartoon is beyond the pale. Hypocrites.

The New York Post displays bad taste and bad judgment of The New York Post, The editorial at the New York post have a promote with racism, The attacks of the cartoon was racist by Sean Delonas the racist cartoon to the American President Barack Obama to a monkeys or Chimpanzee and American have promote with African-American was calling Chimpanzee the police shooting human and the sign in the cartoon Beware of Dog have a long history of police attacking African-American with Dog. The editorial at the New York Post have a promote with racism, and the article damaging to the New York Post "I will not buy papers" from the The New York? Boycott? Boycott? Boycott, from The New York Post.

I find the cartoon offensive because there's NOTHING funny in an animal having to be shot to death, nor is there anything funny in the gruesome damage that the unfortunate chimp did to the poor woman he attacked. My initial interpretation of the panel's message was the Shakespeare/room full of monkeys reference as well, although in poor taste for the reasons I've already stated. As for whether or not there was a racist intent on behalf of the cartoonist, only he himself knows the answer to that...but I've seen time and again that Al Sharpton can find racism anywhere and in anything if it gets his name in the papers and his face on the television yet again. His time would be better spent getting an actual J-O-B instead of rabble-rousing as a vocation. Exactly whose checking account issues him a paycheck for being an 'activist'? Others may be willing to forget the Tawana Brawley travesty he orchestrated, but here's one tri-state area native who will always remember it. I'd rather be represented by talking parrot.

how dare anyone portray to the people violence an politics in a cartoon.. wut is ethically right? if race is as big an issue as "republicans" manufacture, than the nation must be prepared for the actions that follows!!!

So, Mike, the fact that a president who managed to trash the country in every conceivable way for eight years got a bunch of nasty nicknames is EXACTLY the same as the first black president who has literally been president for less than a month being depicted as a monkey.

Yep, no difference there.

Amazing how the racist Rethug reprobates line up to all decry us for not realizing that subtle racism is all just a big funny joke and we're all just stupid and evil for not laughing it up at this.

The Thugs are doing backflips to explain this away, and it's just not working. Nobody's falling for their bull anymore.

Plus, since Al sharpton is involved, the racist rabble are really all over this, decrying him and making even more racist jabs (like little dickbag hexe up there).

surprise, surprise. its the cops shooting to kill an unarmed being

This is not funny, and it is racist. We all know that the blacks used to be depicted as money. President Obama is just that our President, Get over it.

By marilyn.johns (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

Hexe said it more clearly than I did - the shooting of a chimpanzee sickened me. Otherwise it's a lot less obvious than, say, Obama waffles.

Blue Fielder, you're one pathetic mofo. Barack Obama IS MY PRESIDENT, and as an American I'm proud to be represented by a GENTLEMAN of his caliber and intelligence. Clearly, Sharpton is a fitting and an appropriate representative for the person you are, but I would never stoop to allow the likes of him, and similar parasites on humanity of any race, sex or creed, to speak for me. To put it bluntly, I'm better than that. Too bad you don't think enough of yourself to align yourself with positive and productive public figures, instead of asshats like Sharpton.

Oh, and as far as the cartoon is concerned, whenever *I* see a primate (monkey, chimp, gorilla, orangutan) in an editorial cartoon, I automatically associate the image with George W. Bush, because he has always looked so damn simian. So your racism allegation is really in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

I didn't ask your opinion, you child, so why don't you shut the fuck up while the adults talk?

You were the one who insulted Sharpton for no toher reason than because you could. You'll shut up now.

Spoken like the ignorant and self-hating cretin you are. Sharpton has made himself an insult and an embarassment to the human race...I can't accept credit for that.

I see there's nothing to be gained by attempting to have an intelligent discussion with you, as vocabularily-challenged as you've shown yourself to be. You g'wan back to your juicebox and your Cheetos.

wow, this discussion went waaaay off the rails...

I looked at the cartoonist's archives and, like Anon, I'm going to give him a pass on this one. I'm sure he was trying to portray the stimulus bill as so nonsensical that only a bunch of chimpanzees might have written it. Most people land themselves in the hottest water when they're trying to be funny and I don't think this guy is quite a master of the art.

I think we can all agree that Rev. Sharpton likes attention, but it is painfully obvious that this cartoon contains a clearly racist thread, intentional or not. Saying that there is a need to find someone new to write a stimulus bill after shooting one ape implies that only one person wrote the bill in the first place. The only person who might be considered solely responsible for that piece of
legislation is President Barrack Obama, who we all know is African American, ergo the chimp in the comic stands for Obama whether the artist intended it or not. Here, Rev. Sharpton has a valid point, because white racists frequently refer to darker skinned people as monkeys, apes, or some vulgar variation, and specifically call black people chimps. Many racists are currently looking at this cartoon in exactly the way about which Rev. Sharpton was concerned. Sean Delonas is guilty here, of not being funny, and of not thinking this cartoon through. The NY Post is guilty of blind insensitivity.

By Rev. David Hancock (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

To Chantel comments #22 shame shame shame on you for wanting to make this a racial issue. This is an American Tax Payor issue and nothing more. Barack has been completely disrespectful to the American tax payers. Asking us and our children to pay for this crap for years to come to rub his ego is a disgrace to all of us. The congress who approved this is only concerned about their future votes that they don't want to block it. They don't care about the true out come to the american people. Obama bit off more than he can chew and won't admit it. Don't compare to Bush, we got rid of him and voted for change, but so far I don't see any change, not in the cabinet, politicians or in the policy. Only change I see is the name on the presidents door. Obama is the best sales person I have ever seen and he did a number on this country. I would hire him for my business but I don't hire lying cons. If I had a vote I would cut back the amount of congressmen and Senators. We have too many, their overpaid and we can't afford them. With todays technology we don't need that many either. Too many cheifs and not enough indians. I'll bet that would save about $8 Billion a year or so right there. That is what a smart business does to stay in business, get rid of the overpaid dead weight(pork). At this rate this country will be bankrupt in no time. Thanks to Obama and Congress for screwing it all up. Someone needs to stand up and "just say no" or we will be asking China for a bailout soon to keep Americans alive.

By Honest America… (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink

If it were a donkey, the public would have believed the cartoon was aimed at Democrats; Republicans, if it were an elephant. Perhaps killing a bull in a china shop would have been more appropriate (the cartoon nailed the uselessness of the stimulus package, IMHO, even if that wasn't its intent). I don't understand the connection of the bill with a simian, nor do I see such to any individual, much less the Pres. Obama, and am amazed at the oversensitivity of people (if such energy were directed at eliminating gangs, drugs, poverty, etc . . . well, never mind, as it will never happen; people have their priorities, ya know!). Regardless, there was one individual on "Yahoo Answers" who foresaw this exact event: visit to see this modern Nostradamus' brilliant question.

This was very poor attempt at humor but a "Beware of Dog" sign posted on the lamp post???? A Bull Connor reference maybe?? Why was a there a need to include that but not spell out who the monkey represented?

By Wayne Alston (not verified) on 20 Feb 2009 #permalink

When I read the cartoon I thought it was meant to depict Nancy Pelosi having the mentality of a chimp. It never entered my mind that it was directed at our President. He has been much criticized for not having written the bill himself; so why would the dead chimp depict him?

Tasteless. Perhaps. Deplorable. Eh. Have we the secularists and defenders of free speech so forgotten the lessons from the Danish Cartoon madness when a bunch of enraged Muslims went batshit because their dear leader had been profaned and put through proverbial violence? Context matters. Freedom of press matters.

Please look at this:…

This shows the page immediately before the cartoon in the New York Post. Anyone who is making the stretch of an argument that no one associates Obama with the stimulus bill is a racist apologist. The New York Post does, and made that association one page before.

And, the associations with President Bush and a monkey have nothing to do with racism or assassination. Monkey can mean stupid, monkey can mean making a monkey face (there are lots of pictures in which Bush does this), and monkey can have racist overtones, depending on its context. Yes, there are monkey comments that are racist, and ones that do not have that baggage. Again, if you have to pretend that decades of racist jokes and images do not exist for your argument to make sense, then you are a racist apologist.

PLease with all the Negtive talking there are kids who read this Article!!!!!!!

By Mr.Mebane (not verified) on 16 Mar 2009 #permalink