A federal judge has ordered the New York Post’s top editor to answer questions about how his boss, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, reacted to a cartoon that depicted President Obama as a dead chimpanzee.
The order came last week in a lawsuit filed by former Post employee Sandra Guzman, who accused the newspaper and editor Col Allan of racial discrimination and harassment. It was first reported late Tuesday by Reuters.
In February, the order said, Allan refused during a sworn deposition to answer questions about what he and Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the Post, talked about when the cartoon was published in 2009. Allan claimed he was protected under “editorial privilege.”
But federal Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis ruled the protection didn’t apply because nothing Allan and Murdoch talked about was related to a secret source or the newsgathering process.
The Post eventually apologized for publishing a cartoon that had clearly racist imagery. It depicted a police officer shooting a chimpanzee to death and another officer saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” It was published just a day after President Obama signed an economic stimulus package into law.
Guzman’s lawyers wanted to know what Allan said to Murdoch in a series of phone calls after the cartoon ran, including whether the editor told the executive that it was a mistake to apologize.
Murdoch, however, will not have to answer questions about the cartoon. The same judge ordered on Friday that the media mogul had too little involvement in the publication of the cartoon or the alleged discrimination to be forced to submit to a deposition.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com