Boston Herald will discuss editorial cartoon

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BOSTON (AP) — A spokeswoman for the Boston Herald said Saturday that newspaper officials are looking forward to meeting with community members who were offended by its editorial cartoon meant to satirize the Secret Service after an intruder made it deep into the White House.

The cartoon published this past week has been criticized as racist. It shows a man taking a bath watching President Barack Obama brush his teeth. The man says, “Have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste?” The caption reads: “White House invader got farther than originally thought.”

The cartoonist, Jerry Holbert, has apologized, saying he got the idea after finding “kids’ Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in the bathroom at his home and was “completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations.”

Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s first black governor, has called the editorial “offensive” and “stupid.”

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The Boston Branch of the NAACP said Friday that the cartoon “reopened the wounds of race in Boston” and that the newspaper’s “apology is an inadequate response.” They asked for the newspaper to participate in a community meeting hosted by the NAACP to discuss the cartoon and what can be done to prevent racially offensive reporting.

The NAACP also pressed the Boston Herald to provide diversity training for its staff that includes information on the many racially insensitive images and rhetoric in the nation’s history. The group also called on the newspaper to ensure more diversity, particularly on the news and editorial operations.

On Friday, Jennifer Miller, the Boston Herald’s deputy managing editor for news, spoke with Boston NAACP President Michael Curry and said the newspaper will participate in the community meeting and is considering diversity training, according to the civil rights group.

Newspaper spokeswoman Gwen Gage reiterated Saturday that the cartoonist and publican meant no harm but were sorry to anyone who was offended by it.

“The Herald has made it clear that this editorial page cartoon was unacceptable in its insensitivity and racial overtones,” newspaper spokeswoman Gwen Gage said in an email. “Both the newspaper and cartoonist intended no such inference and immediately apologized for the pain its publication may have caused.”

She said Herald officials would attend the community meeting.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the NAACP and meeting with them to address the concerns that arose as a result,” Gage said.

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