Hark, the Herald…

For all of the Boston Globe‘s aforementioned flaws, the paper is miles ahead of its crosstown rival, the Tea Party newsletter known as the Boston Herald. After a nationally-publicized, racially-charged embarrassment at the paper, it looks like the Herald will finally try to rein things in a little bit.

The Boston Herald will work with the Boston chapter of the NAACP to address the issues raised by the publication of an editorial page cartoon last week.

The cartoon, focusing on security breaches at the White House, depicted President Obama brushing his teeth as an intruder suggested he try watermelon-flavored toothpaste. Cartoonist Jerry Holbert said he intended no racial overtones and apologized as did the newspaper.

The NAACP yesterday called the Herald apologies ‘inadequate’ and said the publication of the cartoon on the paper’s opinion page ‘reopened the wounds of race’ in Boston. It requested a series of remedies including a community meeting to discuss the editorial page cartoon.

On the one hand, it almost stretches credibility to the breaking point that Holbert didn’t know that watermelon imagery has repugnant overtones with regard to African-Americans. On the other hand, I have met people, both young and old, who have no idea, after all these years, that the phrase “tar baby” has repugnant overtones with regard to African-Americans. Perhaps Holbert should not have had the White House intruder in his cartoon say anything.

Is Holbert actually a racist? CNBC and MSNBC contributor Keith Boykin makes a compelling case that Holbert has a history of, shall we say, profoundly unpleasant characterizations of President Obama. Yet as I write this, I do wonder if it’s hypocritical of me to suggest that Holbert is a racist while simultaneously defending Bill Maher from accusations of racism. Do I think the Herald’s readership responds to racist, dog-whistle imagery? The answer to that is obvious, no?

If the NAACP can move the Herald in a less wingnutty direction, so much the better. The paper has been far too cartoonish for far too long.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.