Herald On Obama Watermelon Cartoon: 'Regret If We Offended Anyone'

A Boston Herald statement says the paper "sincerely regret[s] if we inadvertently offended anyone" with an editorial cartoon criticized by many for racist connotations.

The cartoon, which appeared in Wednesday's paper, references the controversy over the White House intruder, who's been indicted for jumping a fence and eluding security guards.

The cartoon features the intruder in a bathtub behind President Obama, who's brushing his teeth. The intruder says, "Have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste?"

Watermelon has racist connotations for many African-Americans.

“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,” the Herald said in a statement. “That said, we sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone and extend our sincere apologies.”

Interviewed on Herald Radio Wednesday morning, Holbert called himself "naive." He said his son's girlfriend's toothpaste was watermelon-flavored, and that's why he used it in the cartoon, and he "didn't think about it at all." He also apologized for offending anyone.

He said on Tuesday night, his national cartoon syndicate asked him to change watermelon to another flavor, but that version did not appear in the Herald Wednesday morning. The updated version, with raspberry-flavored toothpaste, appears on

Update at 1:20 p.m.: In a follow-up statement, the Herald said:

As Jerry Holbert discussed on Boston Herald Radio this morning, his cartoon satirizing the U.S. Secret Service breach at the White House has offended some people and to them we apologize. His choice of imagery was absolutely not meant to be hurtful.

We stand by Jerry, who is a veteran cartoonist with the utmost integrity.

This article was originally published on October 01, 2014.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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