- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2014

A cartoonist with the Boston Herald issued a mea culpa for a recent drawing of President Obama that included a text reference to watermelon, and said he didn’t intend any racial overtones.

The cartoon was a political commentary on the failures of the Secret Service to protect the White House.

Cartoonist Jerry Holbert drew Mr. Obama in the bathtub, surprised by an intruder, who asks: “Have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste?” The caption read: “White house invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought.”

The piece was slammed by critics as racist.

But Mr. Holbert said he didn’t even notice any racial tones — even after his syndicate called and asked if wanted to change the toothpaste flavor to raspberry, the Boston Herald reported.

“I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” he said, during his apology on Boston Herald Radio. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.”

He also said he was “confused” when his syndicate called and asked for the raspberry substitution, and wished he would have called the newspaper to discuss the change, the Boston Herald reported.

“I want to apologize to anyone I offended who was hurt by the cartoon,” Mr. Holbert said. “It was certainly, absolutely, not my intention.”

The newspaper, meanwhile, stood by him.

“As Jerry Holbert discussed on Boston Herald Radio this morning, his cartoon satirizing the U.S. Secret Service breach at the White House has offended some people and to them we apologize. His choice of imagery was absolutely not meant to be hurtful. We stand by Jerry, who is a veteran cartoonist with the utmost integrity,” the paper said, in a statement.

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