Cartoon of J.B. Pritzker stirs controversy

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A racially provocative cartoon about J.B. Pritzker and his controversial comments about two prominent black political leaders was called race-baiting Thursday. (WLS)

A racially provocative cartoon about J.B. Pritzker and his controversial comments about two prominent black political leaders was called race-baiting Thursday. The image was featured on the cover of the Chicago Reader.

J.B. Pritzker's comments about Jesse White and Emil Jones landed him in hot water with many in the African American community and has gotten extensive media coverage. Soon it will also be featured in an ad by Chris Kennedy's campaign.

But in Thursday's edition of the Chicago Reader the cartoon on the cover was being called offensive and race-baiting.

The Chicago Reader cartoon features a fat cat image of J.B. Pritzker sitting on top of a lawn jockey, blowing black smoke while talking on the phone. In the corner an FBI agent appears to be listening in on the call.

"That's the equivalent of putting gasoline on a fire, someone's doing that intentionally to stir up race," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, Chairman of the Black Caucus.

Ald. Sawyer said Thursday that he supports J.B. Pritzker.

This issue is the first under new executive editor Mark Konkol, who promised when he took over this month to "make waves."

The story that followed called Pritzker a "fake friend to the black community" because of disparaging comments he made in a 2009 phone call with Rod Blagojevich in which he called Jesse White the "least offensive" and Emil Jones "crass." Pritzker has since apologized.

Ald. Sawyer called the Reader's cover offensive.

"I get it, it was wrong, the man apologized, let's move forward and talk about what's important for Illinois, what's important for the city of Chicago, and not continue to race-bait, you know that's all the Reader did and I think they should apologize for doing that, that cover was offensive," said Ald. Sawyer.

Chicago Reader Editor Mark Konkol responded saying: "Ald. Sawyer is entitled to his opinion. We stand by our decision to engage readers on important issues of the day by producing journalism and social commentary that gets people talking."

"Well I guess I knew they intended to be provocative at the Reader but I think this is not the right approach," said Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.

Chris Kennedy, meanwhile is launching a new digital ad keeping the issue of the tapes front and center with the Democratic primary just over a month away.

Daniel Biss avoided commenting on the cartoon, but took his own swipe at Pritzker.

"J.B.'s comments with Rod Blagojevich indicate an attitude about power and an attitude about race that we should not accept," said Daniel Biss, Democratic candidate for Governor.

Some Pritzker supporters say it's time to move on from the tapes.

"We support 'JP Pritzle' (sic) 199 percent because I know him," said restaurant owner Josephine Wade.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued a joint statement with Ald. Sawyer and City Treasurer Kurt Summers calling the cartoon racist, adding "this image does not advance the thoughtful debate we need and is therefore disappointing."
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politicsgubernatorial racecartoon
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