NPR has sort of apologized in a post by their ombudsman for the controversy drummed up by this cartoon:
The cartoon drew the venom of conservative commenters for both its use of the loaded term “tea-bagger” and the fact that it was summarily dismisssive of the tea party movement. And though the cartoon has an undeniable ideological bent, the real problem here is not with NPR. There are two issues at play.
First, conservatives in the Tea Party movement have not found a way to own the term “teabagging.” There are ways to do so, but they require an attitude adjustment (or, some might say, an attitude problem) that many establishment conservative movement organizations are unlikely to accept.
Second – and more importantly – is an important aspect of all conservative cries of media bias. Consider this reply from an NPR staffer:
“Would it be nice if there were other Web-original cartoons from other perspectives to run with Fiore?” said [NPR News Executive Editor Dick] Meyer. “Sure. We think there are and we’ve been looking for a while in fact. And I think criticism that we don’t have a conservative cartoon is certainly legitimate and reasonable.”
The problem isn’t really that Mark Fiore made a cartoon that skewers the right, it’s that the right isn’t in a position to skewer back.