Wolff: Murdoch probably “livid” over Post chimp cartoon

A biographer of the News Corp. head, who owns the New York Post, thinks the controversial image was deliberately racist, and won't go over well at company headquarters.

Topics: War Room, Michael Wolff, Rupert Murdoch,

Remember that New York Post cartoon from Wednesday, the one showing a dead chimp representing the author of the stimulus, the one that prompted debate about whether it included a racist undertone about President Obama? Well, now someone with real insight into the matter — Vanity Fair writer Michael Wolff, who recently authored a biography of Post owner Rupert Murdoch — has weighed in.

Writing for Newser, Wolff says he does think the cartoon was racist, and deliberately so, and he also drops one interesting tidbit: Murdoch himself is probably “livid” over the decision to run it. With a hat-tip to Ben Smith, an excerpt from Wolff’s post:

As a student of the Post and of Murdoch and his people, let me suggest the likelihood that Allan and the Post are well off the post-modern reservation. That Allan’s personal and tabloid anger, never so carefully in check, has burst into the open in an incredible spasm of tone deafness and — say it — racism. For one thing, there is, blatantly, jaw-droppingly, without disguise or camouflage or deniability, the conflation of the new president with the mad chimpanzee, who, the day before, mauled a woman. For another, no editorial cartoon at the Post can get into the paper without Allan approving it. He saw it; he got it; he bought it; he published it.

Barack Obama has been a long-simmering issue at the Post. He offends both its tabloid conservatism (however cool and witty it may have become) and, too, its latent, unreconstructed Australian tabloid — again, say it — racism. He offends it even more because Rupert Murdoch, the Post’s owner and virtual Godhead, rather likes Obama. The more and more liberal Murdoch — indeed, he was in Australia earlier this month pressing for looser immigration rules — has stifled the Post’s reflexive contempt.

So the dam burst. Repressed for most of the past year, the id suddenly broke free. Forget the post-modern crap. This is real, old-fashioned, tabloid hate.

Murdoch, I can make an educated guess, is livid. And Col Allan is shortly on his way back to Australia.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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