The Boston Herald is finding itself in a whole tub of hot water after a political cartoon that ran today was booed far and wide as a racist depiction of President Barack Obama.
The cartoon was meant to lampoon the recent White House security incident wherein a man scaled the White House fence and made it to the doors before he was stopped by Secret Service. There have been hearings in Congress about the incident recently, with Secret Service command answering for the lapse.
The Herald cartoon was meant to poke fun at how far the intruder got, and portrayed a white man startling President Obama in his tub as he readied for bed.
The caption for the cartoon read: White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought
The intruder asks the startled president, “Have you tried the new watermelon-flavored toothpaste?"
Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts, where the Boston Herald is located, said in a statement, “I found the cartoon offensive. It was stupid. I think even the Herald sees that.” Deval Patrick is himself African-American.
— [Bae]lock Holmes (@Apten0dytes) October 1, 2014
For those who may not be from these parts, the outrage over the cartoon is due to a racist stereotype about black people. Some will joke that black people all like watermelon. To portray the president, who is half-white, half-African descent, as using or being offered watermelon-flavored toothpaste is seen as demeaning.
REALLY??? "have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste?" to the President? You DONT see the racial implications? @bostonherald
— gypsy woman (@nickyBeneatha) October 1, 2014
The Herald did offer an apology for what it says was an inadvertent and innocent mistake,
“Contributors to our Editorial and Opinion pages have the right to express their views, and satire is clearly used in Jerry Holbert’s cartoon today,” a Herald spokesperson said. “That said, we sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone and extend our sincere apologies.”
The cartoonist, Jerry Holbert, spoke about the controversy today.
“I had no intention at all of offending anybody,” he said. “I thought this was a very lighthearted cartoon, just suggesting that the guy got as far as the bathtub and he’s recommending a different toothpaste for the president.”