In a party-line vote, the Suffolk Legislature’s Democratic majority slapped the wrist of the Smithtown Messenger for a presidential parody criticized as “racist” by stripping the paper of some of its legal ads.
The legislature voted 11-7 to remove the weekly -- one of 10 papers who get legal ads whe the county needs public notices that pertain to only one town, worth about $3,000 to $4,000. The move does not affect Republican lawmakers' designation of the Messenger as the GOP official county paper.
Republicans and the Long Island Press Club decried the resolution as an assult on freedom of the press, Democrats maintained the county should not finanically support any paper that sponsor Legis. DuWayne Gregory said “played to racial steereotypes.”
The parody pictured presidents and their wives in office and after leaving, but next to a photo of Barack Obama and his wife was a scene from the TV sitcom “Sanford and Son” where Fred Sanford and his sister-in-law Aunt Esther were in a pugilistic pose.
While conceding it may have been offensive to some, publisher Phillip Sciarillo called the legislature's move “ridiculous.”
“It shows that government wants to control what we say, which is a disgrace,” he said.