News & Politics

Washington Post Runs Charlie Hebdo Cover Twice

Executive editor says the new cover is not "needlessly offensive."

Two Washington Post stories published Monday evening showed the cover of the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo. A blog post published by Michael Cavna and a Paul Farhi story about … the Washington Post publishing the cover both show the artwork, which features the prophet Muhammad holding a sign that says “Je suis Charlie” under the legend “Tout est pardonné” (“All is forgiven”).

The Post declined to publish Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons in its news pages after two gunmen killed staffers there last week, though its opinion section published in its print edition only a 2011 cover mocking Muhammad. (Some Post blogs ran Charlie Hebdo covers, Farhi writes, “but there is debate about whether those featured Muhammad or were of a generic Muslim man.”)

Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, who does not edit the opinion section, told Farhi “Our policy has been to avoid publication of material that is pointedly, deliberately or needlessly offensive to members of religious groups. That remains our policy, but this doesn’t fall into that category.”

The New York Times declined to publish Charlie Hebdo material, and its story about the new cover describes but does not show it. Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told the paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, the question was about “At what point does news value override our standards?” and that an approach like the one the Post opinion section took “is probably so compromised as to become meaningless,” though Sullivan notes he “was speaking generally, not of The Post’s decision.”

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.