Updated at 11:40 ET
The editors of The Boston Herald issued an apology of sorts Wednesday, saying they “sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone” with a political cartoon that trafficked in racial stereotypes, according to a tweet from a news anchor at WBZ.
The cartoon by renowned cartoonist Jerry Holbert and printed in Wednesday’s newspaper was accompanied by the caption: “White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought.” It showed President Obama brushing his teeth while the uninvited guest sat in the tub over his shoulder. As the intruder sudsed up, he asked Obama whether he’d “tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste.”
Here’s the tweet via WBZ’s Joe Mathieu about the paper’s apology:
— Joe Mathieu (@JoeMathieuWBZ) October 1, 2014
In addition to Mathieu’s tweet, WBZ-TV published Herald spokesperson Gwen Gage’s response to the criticism.
“Contributors to our Editorial and Opinion pages have the right to express their views, and satire is clearly used in Jerry Holbert’s cartoon today.”
Holbert, himself, responded to the criticism his cartoon received during an appearance Wednesday on the Boston Herald’s talk radio show.
He told the hosts that he had “no intention at all of offending anyone” and that he doesn’t “think along the lines of racial jokes.” While he acknowledged that his jokes can be “naive” or “stupid,” he said he was definitely not racist.
He repeatedly emphasized that he “wasn’t thinking of the racial element” when he used watermelon toothpaste.
“I was thinking of myself,” he said. “I really like watermelon.”
After Holbert left the show, one of the hosts noted that the racist connotations of watermelon seemed pretty obvious.
Interestingly, in a different version of the cartoon, featured on GoComics.com, the toothpaste is “raspberry-flavored,” not watermelon.
The Boston Herald did not immediately return calls seeking comment.