The Indianapolis Star issued an apology to its readers after an outcry over an editorial cartoon that skewered Christine Blasey Ford ahead of her upcoming Senate hearing.
The cartoon, which was published in the newspaper’s print edition Sunday, depicted Ford sitting in front of the Judiciary Committee with her back to the reader.
“Here are my demands,” she is depicted telling the panel. “No questions from lawyers, dim the lights, I want roses, sparkling water, a bowl of green M&Ms."
The cartoon was mocking Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a gathering when the two were teenagers in Maryland in the 1980s, for her requests during a lengthy back and forth with Republican senators to schedule her hearing. Ford said through her attorneys that she wanted the senators to agree to certain conditions to ensure her safety and the fairness of the proceeding.
Readers, many of whom took to social media, complained that the newspaper’s treatment of the alleged sexual assault victim was insensitive and offensive. The comic was drawn by Gary Varvel, an Indy Star cartoonist whose stringently conservative comics have turned heads for years.
Ronnie Ramos, the executive editor of the newspaper, said in a note published on its website Monday that “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 the victim of a sexual assault.”
“Our readers deserved better in this case,” he wrote. “The cartoon did not meet our high standards.”
Ramos’s note included a statement from Varvel.
"My cartoon was focused only on Ford’s demands, not on whether she was telling the truth,” he said. “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.”
In 2014, the Indy Star apologized after a Varvel cartoon depicted what appeared to be a family of Latin American immigrants climbing through an open window into a white family’s dining room during their Thanksgiving dinner.
“Thanks to the president’s immigration order, we’ll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving,” one of the family members said.
Many readers said the cartoon was racist. The newspaper’s editor at the time, Jeff Taylor, said the Indy Star had erred in publishing the “inappropriate” cartoon.
And last year, a heavily edited version of one of the cartoonist’s works that made fun of Democrats was tweeted by President Trump after being appropriated to offer a harsh and potentially violent critique of CNN.