Protesters picketed the paper's New York City offices
The New York Post newspaper has apologised to readers offended by a cartoon some people say was a racist depiction of President Barack Obama.
Cartoonist Sean Delonas drew police having shot dead a chimp, saying "they'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill".
The paper said it had been meant to "mock an ineptly written" bill.
Commentators had denounced the cartoon, and protesters picketed the newspaper's headquarters.
"To those who were offended by the image, we apologise," the paper said in an editorial.
However, the paper went on to accuse "some in the media and in public life who have had differences with the Post in the past" of using the row over the cartoon "as an opportunity for payback".
"To them, no apology is due," the paper said.
"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else," it concluded.
On Tuesday President Obama signed into law a $787bn (£548bn) economic stimulus package.
The plan only passed through Congress after weeks of political wrangling.
The New York Post said earlier that the cartoon was "a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimp in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy," said editor-in-chief Col Allen.
It was widely reported in the US that a pet chimp was shot in Stamford, Connecticut, on Monday after a serious and disfiguring attack on a friend of its owner.
Mr Allen's explanation was rejected by Andrew Rojecki, co-author of the book The Black Image in the White Mind.
"The cops are saying, 'Someone's going to have to write the next stimulus bill.' Well, who wrote the last stimulus bill? It's Obama and the Democratic Party, but really it's associated with one person - and that's Obama," Mr Rojecki told the Chicago Tribune.
"How could The Post let this cartoon pass as satire?" asked Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, in a statement.
"To compare the nation's first African-American commander-in-chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel."
Blog posts on the topic attracted hundreds of angry comments, while complainants reportedly jammed the newspaper switchboard and protested outside its headquarters.
The civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton said he associated the cartoon with "historic racist attacks" which depicted African-Americans as "synonymous with monkeys".
Cartoonist Sean Delonas has stirred controversy before, with cartoons which have made fun of Heather Mills's amputated leg and depicted Muslims as terrorists.
WHAT WAS SAID ABOUT THE CARTOON
Editorial writers and cartoonists certainly have a right to criticize the bill and its supporters. But this attempt at humor or satire or whatever else it was intended to be fell far short of the mark.
The drawing, from famed cartoonist Sean Delonas, is rife with violent imagery and racial undertones.
The Huffington Post
, which received thousands of comments.
What could be seen as silly humor if President George W Bush were in the White House has to be seen through the lens of America's racist past.
Roland S Martin,
As an African American, I must admit the cartoon made my bile rise somewhat when I contemplated it. But political cartoonists generally aim for the topically provocative, not the politically correct. On that level, Delonas succeeded.
It is worth noting that congressional Democrats wrote the bill, not Obama or anyone in the White House. If the conservative New York Post is calling Harry Reid, Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi a bunch of monkeys, is that worth Sharpton getting worked up about?
Deadline USA Blog
I'm not one to shy away from calling people or things out for being racist. I just think that some small amount of thought has to go into something for it to actually be racist.
Dennis DiClaudio in
Comedy Central's Indecision blog
A clear parody of a current news story or a crude joke? You can send us your views using the form below.
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