In very disheartening news, The University of Texas at Austin’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan, printed an offensive cartoon on Tuesday that tried to convey that the Trayvon Martin case has been overblown by the media and used the word “colored” to describe Martin, according to the New York Daily News

The cartoon, that misspelled Martin’s name, shows a woman wearing glasses holding a book titled “Treyvon Martin and the case of yellow journalism.” She is sitting in a chair labeled “The Media.” In the cartoon, she tells a young boy, “And then … the Big Bad White man killed the Handsome, sweet, innocent, colored boy!!”

The cartoon was drawn by Stephanie Eisner and of course she said that she didn’t mean to downplay the severity of the case.

“I feel the news should be unbiased. And in the retelling of this particular event, I felt that that was not the case,” Eisner told the Daily Texan. “My story compared this situation to yellow journalism in the past, where aspects of news stories were blown out of proportion with the intention of selling papers and enticing emotions.”

Once the cartoon began to spark national outrage, Eisner apologized for what she meant to be a criticism of the media and not the actually case. The student told Gawker,

“I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat,” she added. “I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused.”

She doesn’t actually regret drawing the cartoon, but rather that it offended so many and was seen in a disappointing light.

The newspapers editorial advisor, Doug Warren, stood by Eisner and posted on the school’s site that he doesn’t believe the cartoon was in the least racist.

“… its message, to these eyes, is to avoid the simple answers being propagated by the media in this emotional, controversial case that touches on the flaw in the American system that has existed since before the country was founded — racism,” he wrote.

This entire situation gets a side eye. The apology would seem more sincere if Eisner realized she should have never drawn the cartoon at all instead of just being sorry about the reaction it received.

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  • Georgia

    Racism is so pervasive…yes, I think it’s racist and yes, I think her point about journalism was well taken. However, she showed her hand–and her ass–by going for the lowest, most obvious attention-getter–play the race card (while I generally hate this phrase and the way it’s applied, it’s definitely what she’s doing here). Basically, she had an agenda, but her delivery is simplistic. And she’s a dreadful cartoonist. I can’t imagine she’ll find work, but only because she can’t draw.

  • Sigmund Derman

    I think she was trying to make an important point: frequently the media decides very early who is right and who is wrong and afterwards dissent is heavily discouraged. In the Zimmerman Martin case, we still do not have a very clear idea of what happened. But, as Eisner pointed out in her cartoon, the case already has been made into a fairy tale in which everything has been solved.

    As she said in her apology, the cartoon was ambiguous. For example, I do not know what she was thinking in using the term “colored boy”. Probably she meant that by pandering to the advocates of one side of the story, the media was being condescending to black people. She should have realized that the more controversial the issue, the higher the standards for clarity. If your cartoon advocates changes in the plans for a new school stadium, it really does not matter all that much if many people mistakenly think you are against having a new stadium at all. Even in that case, you will probably get a bunch of irate letters. But if your cartoon could be interpreted as condoning racial hatred, then you have real trouble. Don’t attempt such topics unless you know that can be very clear.

    To me, the management of the paper acted badly. The editors are responsible for vetting the articles (and catching mistaken spellings). If this was bad enough to make Stephanie Eisner leave, then some or all of the editors should have left with her. It would have been better for the paper to apologize for offending people and promise to try to produce better and clearer cartoons and articles in the future. But I do not believe she should have been asked to leave.