Howzabout this for a panicked email: the editor-in-chief of The Australian sent a note urging staff to ‘rally around’ cartoonist Johannes Leak after his depiction of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was widely – and rightly – slammed as racist.
The email, from editor-in-chief Chris Dore, was then forwarded to all Australian News Corp staff by News Corp’s corporate affairs executive, Campbell Reid.
It explained that the cartoon was intended to ridicule Biden’s “identity politics”, and accusations of racism were simply rival media outlets intentionally ridiculing it.
“I would also like to point out that when one of our own, who we dearly love and value, faces such vile, personal and unwarranted attacks, as Johannes Leak has today, it’s important that we rally around him and show him support,” Dore wrote in the email, obtained by The Guardian.
“It should go without saying, but certainly needs to be clearly enunciated, that each of us at The Australian utterly opposes racism in all its guises.”
That’s a big call to make for the paper that…
- Literally ran a woman of colour out of the country
- Dubiously linked the Black Lives Matter rallies to Melbourne’s second coronavirus outbreak
- Is basically synonymous with racist cartoons at this point
…but sure guys. Okay.
Leak’s cartoon depicted presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden and his VP Kamala Harris, who is the first Black and Indian-American woman ever to be selected to run on a major party’s ticket.
“It’s time to heal a nation divided by racism,” Leak depicted Biden as saying. “So I’ll hand you over to this little brown girl while I go for a lie-down.”
Here’s your little reminder of how ludicrously racist Australian commercial media are. This is in the country’s only national daily newspaper: pic.twitter.com/7oN7bjRWLO
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) August 13, 2020
In a note defending the cartoon posted online, Dore said the words “little black and brown girls” belonged to Biden, not Johannes, and therefore the cartoon couldn’t possibly be racist.
In fact, here’s what Biden said, in his first appearance with Harris as running mates:
“As a child of immigrants, [Harris] knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country, as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America. Her story is America’s story. It’s different from mine in many particulars, but also not so different in the essentials.
“And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and Brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents.”
Bit different, really.
.@KamalaHarris is going to stand with me in this campaign — and all of us are going to stand up for her.
Together, we’re going to make history. pic.twitter.com/Phw2Le7mrO
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 13, 2020
So are any News Corp employees ‘rallying around’ Leak? In a brief scroll of Twitter, I’ve not seen any yet, so sorry if I missed you guys.
I’ve also checked the usual places – a.k.a. the comment / opinion sections of The Australian and The Daily Telegraph – and there’s nothing there yet, either.
(However, The Australian has published a bunch of reader letters in support of the cartoon. Guess you gotta get it where you can take it?)
News Corp employees: if you’re trapped by Australia’s shrinking media industry and can’t speak for fear of corporate retaliation, blink twice.
There was an Australian cartoonist who became extremely racist after falling off a balcony and sustaining a head injury. Then he died and the paper he worked for hired his son to keep making racist cartoons in his father’s style, but with less comprehensible jokes
— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) August 14, 2020