By SCOTT ROSS
Updated 1:20 PM EST, Tue, Feb 24, 2009
Rev. Al Sharpton said the Federal Communications Commission has agreed to a meeting Wednesday in Washington with him and other critics of the New York Post's chimpanzee cartoon.
The protests over last week's cartoon will continue, said Sharpton and other African-American leaders.
It only took Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch a week to realize that the chimp cartoon that ran in his most beloved paper left a lot of people seriously riled.
Murdoch finally broke his silence earlier today on the cartoon that showed a dead chimp with two fresh bullet holes as one cop says to another, "Now they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
A statement in today's Post reads:
As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me.
Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.
Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you - without a doubt - that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.
Not surprisingly -- to anyone outside the Post's offices -- many read it as comparing President Obama to Travis the chimp, who had been shot dead by police after going on a bloody rampage in Stamford, Conn., just days earlier.
Rev. Sharpton said at City Hall "Murdoch stepped up to the plate, now we want to see if he's going to hit the ball."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a separate event that he "takes Rupert Murdoch at his word" and believes "lessons have been learned."
Murdoch has a well-earned reputation for never backing down, but he clearly respects and admires President Obama and has always aligned himself with those in power. For him to issue an apology is a rare thing indeed.
But the apology Murdoch ran in today's Post is, like the one that ran Thursday, somewhat half-hearted. While Murdoch reached out to "any reader who felt offended, and even insulted," last week's mea culpa was offered to "to those who were offended by the image."
To his credit, however, Murdoch acknowledged that running the cartoon was "a mistake" and accepted full responsibility for it.
Rev. Sharpton has declared war on the Post, calling for the dismissal of both cartoonist Sean Delonas and Editor in Chief Col Allen, and has demanded that the FCC to no longer allow Murdoch to own two newspapers -- the Post and Wall Street Journal -- and two TV stations -- Fox 5 and My9 WROR -- in the same market.
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