The Indianapolis Star responded to backlash Monday by apologizing for an editorial cartoon that mocked Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
Ms. Ford, who has accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, has tentatively agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday as senators and her lawyers continue to iron out the details. She initially put forth a list of conditions to the committee that she wanted met to “ensure her safety,” including that Judge Kavanaugh, who has strongly denied her claim, testify before her and not be present in the room during her testimony.
In The Indianapolis Star’s print edition Sunday, a drawing by staff cartoonist Gary Varvel depicted Ms. Ford testifying before the committee and demanding roses and M&Ms.
“Here are my demands,” she says in the cartoon. “No questions from lawyers, dim the lights, I want roses, sparkling water, a bowl of green M&Ms.”
This is a disgrace. I’ve come to expect the worst from Gary Varvel, but never making light of sexual assault. @indystar should have never printed this and should condemn it now. This discredits and disrespects the great journalists that work there, let alone victims of assault pic.twitter.com/46MIcLVXfT
— Adam Burtner (@Adam_Burtner) September 24, 2018
Readers blasted the newspaper for mocking alleged victims of sexual assault, prompting a retraction by editor Ronnie Ramos.
“Our editorial pages, which include columns and cartoons, strive to present diverse opinions across the political spectrum,” Mr. Ramos wrote. “In Sunday’s paper, for example, Varvel’s work ran next to another syndicated cartoon that presented an opposing view.
“But the Indy Star also has a responsibility to promote a civil discourse and to present diverse viewpoints in a way that does not demean or appear to belittle anyone who says they are the victim of a sexual assault,” he continued. “Our readers deserved better in this case. The cartoon did not meet our high standards.”
Jeff Taylor, Indy Star executive editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Ramos’s statement included a quote from Mr. Varvel, who said the cartoon was not an attack on Ms. Ford.
“My cartoon was focused only on Ford’s demands, not on whether she was telling the truth,” the cartoonist said. “This is a point I should have made clearer in my cartoon. As a husband and father of a daughter and granddaughters, I take sexual harassment very seriously.”
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