The Indianapolis Star and a staff cartoonist have both addressed the backlash over a political cartoon printed in the paper's Sunday edition. The cartoon sparked controversy because of the artist's depiction of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
What are the details?
Cartoonist Gary Varvel drew an image of Ford testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, listing a string of demands. "Here are my demands," she is depicted as saying. "No questions from lawyers, dim the lights, I want roses, sparkling water, a bowl of green M&M's..."
Why Dr. Ford’s attorneys are guarded: vitriol masking as a joke/editorial cartoon in IndyStar Sunday. Is there an adult left standing in MSM? Show your face. pic.twitter.com/Ys4dPQPdZw
— ruthholladay (@ruthholladay) September 25, 2018
The Indy Star received several complaints on social media, with some readers threatening to cancel their subscriptions and others writing letters to the editor in condemnation of the cartoon.
Indy Star executive editor Ronnie Ramos responded to the hysteria in Monday's edition, acknowledging that the cartoon "offended many readers," and explained that the paper "strive(s) to present diverse opinions across the political spectrum."
"But the Indy Star also has a responsibility to promote a civil discourse and to present diverse viewpoints in a way that does not demean or appear to belittle anyone who says they are a victim of sexual assault," he continued. "Our readers deserved better in this case."
Ramos added that "the cartoon did not meet our high standards."
"My cartoon was focused only on Ford's demands, not on whether she was telling the truth," Varvel said in the response. "This is a point I should have made clearer in my cartoon. As a husband and father of a daughter and granddaughters, I take sexual harassment very seriously."
After initially agreeing to testify about her accusations against Kavanaugh, Ford has backtracked with a string of demands since her identity became public. Among those demands, she requested that the FBI first investigate the decades-old incident, which the Judiciary Committee denied. Ford also asked that she be allowed to testify after Kavanaugh about her claims, but that request was also turned down.
The committee's GOP majority told Ford's attorneys on Friday, "This Committee has been extremely accommodating to your client. We want to hear Dr. Ford's testimony and are prepared to accommodate many of your demands, including further delaying a hearing that is currently scheduled for Monday.
"We are unwilling to accommodate your unreasonable demands. Outside counsel may not dictate the terms under which Committee business will be conducted."
Kavanaugh and Ford are slated to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Ford claims Kavanaugh assaulted her over 35 years ago at a house party when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has vehemently and repeatedly denied her accusations.