LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov.-elect Matt Bevin issued a statement Thursday in response to a Lexington Herald-Leader editorial cartoon that featured his children.
The cartoon, drawn by editorial cartoonist Joel Pett, was published in Thursday's Herald-Leader. The cartoon shows a caricature of Bevin hiding underneath a desk. Four framed pictures are on top of the desk, and an aid, clutching one of the pictures, says "Sir, they're not terrorists ... they're your own adopted kids!"
Several people Tweeted about the cartoon being inappropriate. By Thursday afternoon, Bevin Tweeted about the cartoon and his office issued the following statement:
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed, today, the Lexington Herald-Leader chose to articulate with great clarity the deplorably racist ideology of "cartoonist", Joel Pett. Shame on Mr. Pett for his deplorable attack on my children and shame on the editorial controls that approved this overt racism. Let me be crystal clear, the tone of racial intolerance being struck by the Herald-Leader has no place in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and will not be tolerated by our administration."
Pett, in an interview with WKYT's Washington Bureau, said he's been through these "little controversies many times in my 30 years at the Lexington Herald-Leader and I suspect this is the first time for Gov.-elect Bevin."
"My guess would be that when he has time to think about it, he will probably realize that it's not in his best interest to rise to the bait every time somebody criticizes him or it's going to be a long four years," Pett said. "I liked the piece and I still like it. The strongest possible way I could think of to denounce the efforts to blame Syrian refugees for these attacks in Paris, which were in fact carried out by kids who were born and raised in Paris."
When asked whether children should be off limits, Pett said: "Well, it's important to point out that the cartoon was not about his children.
"It was about him and his fear for Syrian refugees," he said. "The children were mere props in it, much the same way they were props in his campaign commercials."
Pett posted a column late Thursday on the Herald-Leader's website acknowledging the backlash and defending the cartoon.
"Did I push the envelope by chiding Gov.-elect Matt Bevin for jumping on the anti-Syrian refugee bandwagon? Sure, and I did so deliberately," Pett wrote. He reiterated that the cartoon was not an attack on Bevin's children. Pett said the fact that he adopted children from Africa is "the thing I admire the most about Bevin."
"I did use the fact that he has children from another country in a piece designed to express outrage over a legitimate hot-button political issue," he said.