There is an odd connection between the ongoing Livent criminal fraud trial and the brewing controversy over the New Yorkermagazine cover depicting presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama as a Muslim giving his wife a terrorist fist-jab. The controversial cover was produced by noted illustrator Barry Blitt, a former student of the Ontario College of Art here in Toronto, who was also responsible for another controversial cartoon: the illustration that accompanied Toronto Lifemagazines July 2004 story about Conrad Black entitled A Toast to Lord Black on His Arrival in Hell.”
That illustration depicted Black riding into Hell in a convertible sedan while giving the thumbs up to a host of demons applauding his arrival. Some of the imps are holding up signs reading Way to Be, Welcome or Black is Beautiful. Id post a direct link from the Toronto Life website, but I cant find one there. Maybe thats because the article and the illustration prompted Black to sue the magazine for a whopping $2.1 million. If you’re curious about the illustration, just type Barry Blitt, Toronto Life and lawsuit into Google and click on the New York Times article to see a copy of the illustration. Click here to see the illustration and read a story about the controversy
Blacks lawyer in the libel suit was Edward Greenspan, who is currently defending Garth Drabinsky on charges of criminal fraud relating to the collapse of Livent. In another odd twist to the whole affair, Lord Black was a member of Livents board of directors.
In the end Black settled for just an apologythat read: “Toronto Life did not intend in this article and illustration to question Lord Black’s observance of the Roman Catholic faith. Toronto Life accepts and recognizes without reservation or qualification that Lord Black is an observant Roman Catholic. Toronto Life apologizes to Lord Black for the pain that the article and illustration have caused him.
An Obama spokesman called Blitts cartoon tasteless and offensive. Thats a bit of an overreaction, according to Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show. ( Click here to see Stewart’s take on the fracas)According to Stewart, a better response would have been :Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon depicting him as a Muslim extremist, Stewart said. Because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists! Maybe he forgot to mention disgraced former newspaper barons as well.