The Times of London, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has an editorial cartoon this morning that's proving perhaps as controversial as the Murdoch-owned The Wall Street Journal's recent editorial condemning rivals for exploiting the News of the World scandal to attack News Corp. In this cartoon highlighted by The Guardian's Katharine Viner, The Times criticizes those who are fixating on the phone hacking scandal roiling the U.K. while famine-stricken Somalia is in desperate need of international aid and attention.
The provocative message has generated a lively debate on Twitter. Hevallo Azad, a Kurdish rights activist in Turkey, calls the cartoon "disgusting" and an "attempt to divert attention" from News International's troubles. "What happened to editorial independence?" asks NPR's Louisa Lim, noting that "it's crude, it's tasteless and it comes off as pro-Murdoch propaganda." The BBC's Robert Rea thinks it's "disgraceful" to imply that "focussing on corruption allows famine to go unchecked." "No one is stopping The Times [from] covering both stories," Political Scrapbook observes.
But not everyone is appalled by the cartoon. Soccer blogger James Titcomb writes that the cartoon is making a "valid point re media priorities" though it "looks bitter coming from" a News International paper. Others are calling the cartoon "brave" and The Telegraph's Rob Crilly says simply, "I don't know why people are upset by The Times cartoon today. Be shocked--but not at the pic."