Newspaper Apologizes for Cartoon Depicting War-Hero Candidate in Eye Patch

The editor of a California newspaper has apologized after readers criticized an editorial cartoon they said mocked an American war hero running for office -- for an injury he sustained fighting in the Iraq war.

Nick Popaditch lost his right eye in the battle of Fallujah in 2004. After returning to San Diego to recover, he went on to become a teacher, a speaker and an author. Now he’s running for Congress as a Republican in California's 51st District, but a paper in the region seems to have been more interested in his eyepatch than his platform.

The Imperial Valley Press ran a cartoon Saturday showing a kid on a skateboard looking at a poster of Popaditch and asking a friend, “Who does that remind you of?” The friend responds, “A James Bond villain? A bald pirate? Uncle Fester with an eye patch?”

Valley Press editor Brad Jennings said the paper was trying to point out the ignorance of uninformed voters. But a large number of readers didn’t take it that way.

“I got plenty of emails and calls from people — most that were not from locals — upset about the political cartoon,” Jennings wrote in his column Tuesday.

As a public figure, Jennings says, Popaditch “is fair game for public comment, even public comment that makes some people uncomfortable,” but he said publishing the cartoon was the “wrong call.”

“So let me apologize to not only Mr. Popaditch but also anyone who was offended by the cartoon. In hindsight, it was a bad decision to run it and I certainly had no intention of offending him or besmirching his honorable service in any way.”

At least one citizen wasn't impressed by Jennings' statement.

"The Imperial Valley Press crossed the line when publishing this cartoon," Matt Leavitt
of Brawley, CA told "I think Brad Jennings' remarks about us ignorant voters didn't win him any new subscribers either."

Popaditch said he accepts the apology.

Rep. Bob Filner, the Democratic incumbent whom Popaditch is opposing, also denounced the cartoon.