There was internal uproar at The Washington Post over a political cartoon that mocked the terrorist group Hamas, Fox News Digital confirmed.
In an email to staffers on Wednesday, the paper's executive editor Sally Buzbee wrote, "Given the many deep concerns and conversations today in our newsroom, I wanted to ensure everyone saw the notes sent out tonight by The Post's opinions editor, David Shipley, to Post readers and to his staff in opinions."
The Post cartoon titled "Human shields" depicted a Hamas spokesperson saying, "How dare Israel attack civilians," while a frightened-looking woman and four small children remain bound with rope to his body.
The cartoon was featured in the Nov. 8 print edition of the paper and online, which was later deleted upon viral backlash.
Buzbee forwarded the editor's note penned by Shipley offering a somber message to readers expressing regret over the cartoon.
"As editor of the opinion section, I am responsible for what appears in its pages and on its screens. The section depends on my judgment," Shipley began. "A cartoon published by Michael Ramirez on the war in Gaza, a cartoon whose publication I approved, was seen by many readers as racist. This was not my intent. I saw the drawing as a caricature of a specific individual, the Hamas spokesperson, who celebrated the attacks on unarmed civilians in Israel."
"However, the reaction to the image convinced me that I had missed something profound, and divisive, and I regret that. Our section is aimed at finding commonalities, understanding the bonds that hold us together, even in the darkest times," he continued. "In this spirit, we have taken down the drawing. We are also pushing a selection of responses to the caricature. And we will continue to make the section home to a range of views and perspectives, including ones that challenge readers. This is the spirit of opinion journalism, to move imperfectly toward a constructive exchange of ideas at all possible speed, listening and learning along the way."
Buzbee's message to staff was first reported by The Washington Free Beacon.
The Washington Post did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
The Post published several letters from readers decrying the cartoon.
One called it "deeply malicious and offensive" and said the cartoon employs "racial stereotypes," adding, "Depicting Arabs with exaggerated features and portraying women in derogatory, stereotypical roles perpetuates racism and gender bias, which is wholly unacceptable."
"There is no topic in reporting in which word choice is as fraught as in reporting on the Gaza Strip. Why does The Post not subject the visual language of its cartoons to the same scrutiny?" a second reader asked The Post.
A third reader wrote "laying the deaths of Palestinian civilians at the feet of Hamas instead of the people actually killing them is a gross mischaracterization of the situation."
Some of the letters offered support for the cartoon, one reading, "Finally, an editorial cartoon that captured the essence of the Hamas terrorism. Please keep it up."
This is not the first time the Post has faced criticism for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.
The paper was accused of watering down rhetoric from pro-Hamas supporters who faced discipline or backlash for their views, in one report. The Post also defended using numbers from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry in its reporting on the war, following a deadly hospital blast.
Fox News' Kristine Parks contributed to this report.
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