By: Mike Recht, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The Concord Monitor was wrong to run an editorial cartoon that depicted a plane labeled “Bush Budget” slamming into two towers labeled “Social Security,” the newspaper’s editor said.
“The decision to run Mike Marland’s Friday editorial cartoon was mine alone, and it was a mistake,” Editor Mike Pride wrote in a column that appeared Friday night on the newspaper’s Web site and was scheduled to be published in Sunday’s newspaper.
“I’m sorry we ran it. Marland intended it to provoke, not offend. Generally I try to see things not just through my own eyes but also through the eyes of readers. I wish I had been wise enough to do that in this case.”
Pride said the newspaper’s e-mail queues and voice mails “were soon filled with messages from New York and elsewhere expressing disgust and anger over the cartoon.”
The cartoon also prompted a harsh response from the White House.
“Equating the president’s budget with terrorist attacks that took 3,000 lives is as wrong as wrong can be,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. “This is tasteless and an affront to the people of New York.”
Pride acknowledged that when he first saw the cartoon Thursday night, he knew it would attract “a public outcry.”
“I thought that rejecting the cartoon would be censorship. The attack on the trade towers was a singular, devastating event, but my own reaction to the cartoon was not visceral,” Pride wrote. “Rather, I read it as I thought Marland had intended it: as strong criticism of the threat that Bush’s budget poses to Social Security.”
Marland is a freelance cartoonist whose work has appeared in the Monitor for 20 years, the newspaper said.
Pride said his decision to run the cartoon “assumed that for others, as for myself, enough time had passed for the wounds of Sept. 11 to heal and for the terrorist attacks to take their place in the long history of political satire. Sometimes artists, including political cartoonists, get there before the rest of us.
“I thought this might be such a time. In retrospect, the decision was wrong …,” he wrote.