| July 3
July 3 The editor of the New York Post may be
forced to answer questions about his discussions with media
mogul Rupert Murdoch over fallout from the newspaper's
publication of a cartoon that appeared to liken U.S. President
Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.
A federal judge in Manhattan said editor Col Allan could not
invoke "editorial privilege" and avoid answering questions posed
by Sandra Guzman, a former associate editor suing the newspaper
for alleged employment discrimination and harassment on the
basis of race, gender and national origin.
Guzman, who is black and Puerto Rican, in November 2009 sued
the Post and parent News Corp, which Murdoch runs,
saying she had been fired in retaliation for complaints over
She also claimed to be among those who objected to the Feb.
18, 2009 cartoon that depicted a policeman shooting a crazed
chimpanzee, a play on an actual Connecticut incident.
The cartoon referred to the recently adopted $787 billion
federal economic stimulus and many people saw the chimpanzee as
a depiction of Obama. Murdoch later apologized to readers.
In an order dated June 29, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald
Ellis said Allan refused during a seven-hour deposition in
February to answer several questions related to the cartoon and
one related to a photo of a nude man published in connection
with former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey's divorce.
The questions over the cartoon covered such matters as
whether Allan told Murdoch he disagreed with publishing an
apology and whether Allan understood Murdoch to have believed it
was a mistake to do so.
In ordering Allan to submit to another two hours of being
deposed, Ellis said the editor had been seeking to improperly
broaden the scope of journalist privilege.
Ellis said this privilege more typically applies to cases
involving reporters and the protection of sources as part of the
In contrast, in the employment discrimination context, "the
plaintiff may explore the motivations of decision makers, or
individuals who influenced the decision maker or participated in
the decision," Ellis wrote.
News Corp and a lawyer for the Post did not immediately
respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. A lawyer for Guzman
did not immediately respond to a similar request.
The case is Guzman v News Corp et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 09-09323.