Media Criticism

New York Daily News Censors Charlie Hebdo Cartoon Where Iranian Paper Doesn't


Charlie Hebdo cover
Charlie Hebdo

The Charlie Hebdo illustration to the right, which appeared on a September 2012 cover, does not contain a depiction of Mohammed. It is a cartoon of a rabbi pushing a wheelchair-bound imam. The title translates as "Untouchables" and the dialogue attributed to both translates to "Must not mock."

Nevertheless, when running a photo of a group of French people reading this particular issue of Charlie Hebdo, the New York Daily News chose to censor the cover, as seen below:


Censored image
photo as run in the New York Daily News

Meanwhile, the Iranian Shargh Daily tweeted a photo that included the same cover, uncensored. Shargh Daily didn't run any of the cartoons in their print edition. They are also based in a country with no right to free speech that has special security forces dedicated to policing religious adherence and regularly detains journalists. The New York Daily News isn't.

As you see, the photo tweeted, of one of the Charlie Hebdo staffers holding the cover, is the same one that several Western outlets cropped.

Yet this cover does not depict Mohammed, which is supposedly what offends some Muslims. It is a commentary aiming at the perceived special status Muslims, and Jews, have in France when it comes to being subjects of satire. They are "untouchable." The Daily News seems to agree.

The Daily News is worried about being the target of violence, and they should say so. They certainly dont shy away from sensationalism, as seen in many of their covers. They also don't show this kind of deference to people, like legal gun owners, that they do claim are violent, betraying how their personal feelings differ from their preferred narratives. 

NEXT: "An Alt-Weekly For the Upper Crust": Q and A with New York Observer Editor-in-Chief Ken Kurson

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don’t have a problem with the media censoring themselves for whatever reason they want. And there are other reasons why news outlets would censor themselves like this–maybe some of their important customers are Muslims, and they don’t want to piss off their important customers.

    This may be an example of another aspect of the free speech debate that isn’t often discussed, and it’s kinda from a pro-censorship view. If private enterprise is more in tune with what their customers want than the government is in what voters want, then that should spillover into the censorship arena, too.

    Yeah, a government run restaurant would serve food that no one wanted, I’m sure, and government run censorship is just as bad. Maybe very few people care at all if their children hear the word “shit” every once in a while on television, but if there were no government censorship at all, I’m sure a lot of TV outlets would still refrain from mocking people’s religion, race, sexual orientation, etc. for business reasons.

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise to libertarians that entrepreneurs can do just about anything better than government–and that includes censorship, too.

    1. It should also be noted that some Jewish readers might have found that particular cartoon offensive–and if they’re an important customer base for your newspaper, there’s probably not much upside to taking a risk with them either.

      1. Easily-offended, politically powerful Orthodox Jewish groups in *New York city*? Surely you exaggerate. Who has heard of such a thing? Oy, like my wife, you are, with the crazy stories.

      2. Yeah Ken they totally censored themselves because of teh Joos and not because they’re afraid of getting killed by a ‘crazy’ Islamist.

    2. This.

    3. So the purpose of a free press is to report the truth according to the sensibilities of its viewership? Kinda defeats the definition of free press. TV shows are one thing but they are not the press. If the press censures then it determines what is news and can no longer be relied upon to gives us the whole truth. They might as well call themselves foxnews, msnbc or cnn.

      1. As long as they’re open with their readers about their biases and editorial approach. And as long as they don’t actually falsify stuff.

      2. “So the purpose of a free press is to report the truth according a version of reality fine-tuned to the sensibilities of its viewership?”


      3. News is a consumer product, and just like with any other consumer product, entrepreneurs should be free to tailor it to their customers’ tastes.

        Being free to tailor news to their customers’ tastes means they can edit out things that their customers find offensive.

        There are other news outlets that tailor their news to people who don’t care about what other people find offensive–and there are still other news outlets (like Charlie Hebdo) that tailor their news to consumers who like what other people find offensive.

        Some New York papers printed the Charlie Hebdo cover in full, and some of them, who were probably concerned about offending the sensibilities of some of their important customers, decided to blur out the potentially offensive image…

        This is all as it should be.

        For all we know, the primary owners of the New York Daily News are Jewish or Muslim themselves, and they blurred out the image because they found the image offensive to their own religion or ethnicity. Why should anyone publish something they think is insulting to themselves?

        That’s a free press for ya: can’t be stopped from printing what you want–and can’t be forced to print something you don’t want either. And that principle if really important for people to understand…

        Otherwise we’ll end up forcing fundamentalist Christians to serve cake at gay weddings or something equally ridiculous.

    4. I would take this line of thinking more seriously if places like NYDN applied that principle across the board. But everyone knows they don’t. I doubt the paper would obscure an unflattering picture of the pope; are its Catholic customers okay to piss off?

      The photos are news; they ARE the impetus behind the story. The magazine was targeted specifically for them. You can’t tell people that a mass murder occurred but gloss over the reason why.

    5. but if there were no government censorship at all, I’m sure a lot of TV outlets would still refrain from mocking people’s religion, race, sexual orientation, etc. for business reasons.

      I guarantee you that without any potential for interference including soft-coercion–I mean absolutely, positively no chance at a lawsuit, absolutely no way to petition the government to do something, absolutely no way for a congressional hearing (the kind that gave us Hay’s code, Comics Code, warning labels, ESRB, MPAA, that killed cigarette advertising)–that kind of self-censorship would only occur on children’s shows and nothing else.

      1. If you try to post a gay-bashing comment at the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, your comment won’t stay up for long, and your username will be banned.

        That isn’t because of the government. That’s because an important part of the San Francisco Chronicle’s customer base is gay, and the San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t want to provide a forum for people to antagonize their important customers.

        Think of it from any business’ perspective. If I’m sending out an employee to meet with land or building buyers, land or building sellers, et. al., those are my important customers. How long do you think I’m going to keep an employee that insults those people’s race, religion, or sexual orientation? If you’re too stupid to keep your mouth shut about stuff like that, I’m gonna fire your ass. …and I’m not going to sit around and wait until your stupid mouth starts costing me money, either. I’m proactive like that!

        You censor yourself at work, don’t you?

        Why would any business owner that sells a consumer product, be it a restaurant, newspaper, or anything else, want to say something that might alienate their important customers? If you want to be a waitress in a honky tonk, maybe they’ll tape pictures of Muslims over the dart board, but you better you keep your mouth shut if you think rednecks are a bunch of flag-waving idiots–or your boss should fire you for alienating his important customers.

        1. I guess I wasn’t clear. When I mentioned “that kind of self-censorship” I am specifically referring your statement:

          I’m sure a lot of TV outlets would still refrain from mocking people’s religion, race, sexual orientation, etc. for business reasons.

          General TV outlets need to cater to a wide audience. Think of how Amazon carries a wide variety of content, many of which are offensive to someone. Non-niche stations, which are most, need to carry a variety of shows. That’s why I stated if they could not face any threats or just simply pressure, for business reasons they would not censor the programs they publish that mock religion or race or whatever. Because otherwise, why would they carry those kind of satirical and comedy shows in the first place?

          A specialized station such as a religious station or business would not have to censor themselves because they would not ink deals with those creators to begin with!

          So yes, when catering to a variety of audiences, why would you as a business, want to alienate those who would tune in specifically for that kind of offensive content?

          The major theaters chains learned that lesson the hard way regarding Sony’s The Interview. The ceded customers to the independent theaters and online streaming services.

  2. They “detains journalist”!

    Shit – which one? That poor guy!

    1. Fixed, thanks. But that would be really awful if one journalist got arrested every time any journalist in the country pissed someone off.

      1. It just reminded me of that old skit that went somethinf like: “Every ten seconds a man is mugged. This is that man.”

        1. ^something.

  3. The Daily News is a dishrag. More importantly, did the NYT and the Post print it?

    I’m sure the Times didn’t, but did the Post?

    I’m going to google.

    1. The Post printed it:…..-my-knees/

  4. It may also be that the Iranians, being Muslim as they are, could tell that the picture wasn’t supposed to be of Muhammed, so it wasn’t any big deal to run it.

    1. Or it may be that the Iranians are not afraid of pissing off their Jewish customers–whose unmockable status as Jews is also being mocked in that particular cartoon.

    2. And Westerners don’t know how to use Google translate?

      1. I don’t even know how to use *twitter*

        (apparently it involves saying especially retarded things and becoming famous for 2 seconds)

      2. I guess my point was we can have chocolate AND peanut butter:

        NYDN are spineless losers who don’t know what they’re looking at


        The Iranian government would have censored it if it actually depicted Muhammed.

  5. pixelate away NYDN. it speaks volumes.

    1. They should be banned from pixelating anything that isn’t porn. The disappointment when we find the actual image is just too much.

  6. BTW, you can search for quite a while before you find any of the lefty (MS) press quoting this:
    “Hollande: Terror Attacks ‘Anti-Semitic’, but ‘Fanatics Have Nothing to Do With Islam'”…..ith-islam/

    Those were just random targets.

  7. A murder would be just as wrong if committed against the staff of the Illinois Nazi Newsletter, or the President of the Swingers’ Club. It makes no difference if you like the victim or not: if it was murder – and there’s no issue of identifying the killer or a claim of self defense – then the priority is go nail the offenders and give them the highest punishment known to the law.

    Discussion of free speech could be relevant if this were a government prosecution of the magazine (as happened in the past). But this is a civilizational, law-and-order issue which should outrage critics of the magazine as much as anyone else.

    1. It should also outrage people who support government censorship – most of whom aren’t into murder, though they have an unfortunate tendency to “contextualize” murders of dissenters.

      1. All resistance to government decree ends with death though. So it’s inconsistent for someone to support government censorship and not support the murder of whoever is being censored if that person wants the laws to be carried out against defiant violators

    2. and there you go. When the discussion involves the rationalization of murder, and I’ve seen attempts at that from a spectrum ranging from the usual retards at MSNBC to the head of the Catholic League, then we have lost a grip on what the term ‘civilization’ means.

    3. I hate Illinois Nazis.

      1. Are you OK with the Nazis in Wisconsin, though?

  8. Fuck any news outlet that won’t print or show the images. They’re nothing better than contemptible pussies bowing at the feet of these barbarians. They’re cowards not worthy of an ounce of respect. Anyone with a soap box should be broadcasting the images nonstop, saying “come and get me you jihadi fucks, we’ll never stop and we’ll never let you win.” The muslim extremists want to try and impose their religion violently? Then show the images non stop. Come up with the most disrespectful ones you can find and blast them as far and as often as you can.

    And fuck anyone that can’t handle seeing a few cartoon images of their prophet. If that offends you so bad then you should probably reexamine the philosophy you choose to follow.


  9. I know everybody says this sooner or later, but I’ve got a great idea for a cartoon. Any artists out there?

    1. well, there’s this guy “Cyborg”… but…

    2. An R rated Scooby Doo would be cool.

      1. I’m not going to do the search for you, but no doubt Rule 34 applies for you here.

  10. My friend makes $84 /hr on the computer . She has been fired from work for 7 months but last month her payment was $13167 just working on the computer for a few hours.
    site here ????

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.