A cartoon by Peter Brookes, the staff cartoonist for the Murdoch-owned Times of London, is getting criticized for a cartoon he drew addressing the ongoing coverage of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
In a cartoon titled “Priorities,” Brookes drew a group of starving Somalians, with one saying, “I’ve had a bellyful of phone-hacking…”
One could argue that Brookes is making a legitimate point about the media’s focus on Murdoch, and its lack of coverage on other important issues, including a horrendous famine in the Horn of Africa. Brookes himself wasn’t available for comment today, but I hope to add his views as soon as I can.
The cartoon seems to echo comments made by several Conservative members of Parliament that the debate in the House of Commons on the phone hacking scandal was a big distraction from more important issues. As MP Peter Lilly noted, “I am only sorry that we are not being recalled to discuss the problems of the eurozone, the slowdown in the world economy in the face of higher energy prices, and the famine in east Africa.”
Regardless, Twitter went ablaze with critics like NPR’s Louisa Lim, who noted the cartoon is crude and tasteless, and “comes off as pro-Murdoch propaganda.” The BBC’s Robert Rea also chimed in, claiming that the cartoon “implies focusing on corruption allows famine to go unchecked.” Solange Uwimana, writer and editor for Media Matters, said he has no words for the cartoon, but thought that “Murdoch and all his minions couldn’t be any more depraved.”
Others were more balanced. British photographer Russell Cavanagh said the cartoon is an attention-getter, and that “sometimes the truth is tasteless.” And Rob Crilly, a reporter for The Telegraph newspaper in London, said, “I don’t know why people are upset by The Times cartoon today. Be shocked–but not at the pic.”
What do you think of the cartoon? Fair or foul?