Last year after Putin illegally invaded Ukraine, the Duma (Russia’s legislative body) created a “fake news” law that would punish journalists and their outlets for reporting “misinformation” about the war. Who would do the deciding on what’s “fake news” in Russia? The Russian government of course. Russian and international news organizations either withdrew their reporters from the country, changed how they did their work, or shut down completely.
Bloomberg, the BBC, Radio Free Europe, ABC News, CBS, News, and public service broadcasters in Canada, Germany, and Italy each suspended their operations inside Russia. One news outlet that did not suspend their reporting from inside Russia is The Wall Street Journal. Last week, the Russian government detained American reporter Evan Gershkovich of The Wall Street Journal on accusations of spying for the United States.
It’s a bullshit charge. But most that come from the Russian government is bullshit, like the claim they invaded Ukraine to liberate it from Nazis. And those who side with Russia, especially people who are supposed to be journalists, spread bullshit as well.
If Gershkovich had been more like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, he wouldn’t currently be in detention in a Russian jail for doing his job. Tucker has been using his prime-time slot on Fox News to be a Russian asset. He’s spread Putin’s lies and has attacked President Joe Biden for successfully building an international coalition to oppose Russia. While NATO was under attack under Trump, it’s grown under Biden’s leadership. Tucker and other Republicans criticized President Biden for visiting Ukraine.
Tucker famously did a show where he rhetorically asked, as if the hate had been assigned to him, “Why do I hate Putin?”. Tucker used this to defend Putin and explain how Russia had never attacked him, ignoring that Russia did indeed attack our elections. But then again, that attack gave Tucker exactly what he wanted. What’s ironic is that Gershkovich and Tucker work for the same corporation. A cameraman for Fox News, Pierre Zakrzewski, (along with Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Kuvshynova) was killed by the Russian Army yet Tucker continues to spread lies for Putin. So does Ted Rall.
Ted Rall is a cartoonist/blogger/author who destroyed his credibility years ago. He’s a former Robert F. Kennedy Award winner (like myself) and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. But those accomplishments were years ago before he was fired by the Los Angeles Times for making shit up and has regrouped working for Sputnik, a Russian propaganda outlet. He also works for Counterpoint which doesn’t seem to care that he’s Putin’s cartoonist. Ted has even traveled to Moscow during the war to return to the United States and report how wonderful it is over there and that sanctions have only strengthened and improved Russia and that Vladimir Putin smells like lilac and honeydew when you hold him close to your body.
Tucker Carlson and Ted Rall are not journalists. Journalists don’t sit inside the United States and spread Russian propaganda. Journalists don’t lie for a fascist government that outlaws journalism. Eva Gershkovich is a journalist and he’s currently in a Russian jail for doing his job.
What I find equally disgusting is the “anonymous” cartoonist, “Rivers,” who is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons, and operated by Daryl Cagle. Cagle said on a recent podcast that it’s OK for “Rivers” to work anonymously since he’s supported by a journalism organization, but he doesn’t mention the organization. And if the organization is Cagle Cartoons, then it’s lost its credibility by syndicating an “anonymous” cartoonist.
Cagle has not explained why “Rivers” is justified to work anonymously. What happened? Why is his life supposedly in danger? I just can’t see it since the guy is in Canada which is a nation that protects journalists. Yet, Cagle doesn’t even tell his clients or readers that “Rivers” is in Canada and allows the guy to pretend he’s in the United States. This isn’t just working anonymously, it’s fraud. Why would Daryl want to jeopardize the integrity of his company with this “anonymous” bullshit? Oh, yeah…it’s because Daryl Cagle doesn’t have integrity.
While it’s posted on Cagle’s site that “Rivers” is an “anonymous” cartoonist and describes him as a “he” or a “she,” Daryl Cagle has NOT told all of his clients that “Rivers” is anonymous. I know this because I talked to one recently who was publishing “Rivers” and they were surprised to learn that wasn’t his real name and he (“Rivers” is a he) is working “anonymously.” Daryl has taken it upon himself to decide for his clients that their ethics policies do not apply to “Rivers” or editorial cartoonists at all.
And when “Rivers” cartoons are published, there’s no note on them that it’s “anonymous.” Readers aren’t being told. Now if you were to write a letter to one of these publications to complain, you would have to sign that letter. I can’t think of any newspapers that allow anonymous letters to the editor.
What is also disgusting is that this coward is pretending his life is in danger while real journalists like Evan Gershkovich are being arrested. “Rivers” is an insult to every journalist who’s been persecuted, including political cartoonists throughout the world. “Rivers” is an insult to every cartoonist who was murdered at Charlie Hebdo. And “Rivers” cartoons aren’t the type that will make anyone come for him. He’s a Trumper who defends the kind of people who would go after journalists. The most offensive thing about “Rivers” is that he is “anonymous.”
When readers read Ted Rall or “Rivers,” they don’t know that one is a Russian-paid propagandist and the other is an “anonymous” coward. Readers deserve to know this, and journalism used to be a thing where full disclosure was a requirement. One of the dangers here is that editorial cartooning will not be seen as journalism in the future, if it’s still being seen that way today. If we’re not journalists and signing our actual names to our work isn’t important anymore, then let’s just go ahead and be replaced by internet memes.
And, I would totally out “Rivers” but I can’t because since I’m only 99 percent sure of who the guy is, outing him without being absolutely 100 percent certain would be…wait for it…unethical.
Update: Nick Anderson, the guy in charge of Counterpoint posted on my Facebook link to this blog and had a few issues. One thing he pointed out is that he doesn’t allow Ted Rall, because of his Russia connections, to draw on Vladimir Putin, Russia, or Ukraine. You can find his entire post here.
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Is his last name Poilievre? The guy’s about as funny as Trump’s ass, which he would kiss given half a chance!
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The author of ‘Jesus & Mo’ is anonymous, for good reason. But at least you know it when you read his/her comics.
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Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Educate yourself!! THIS — “When readers read Ted Rall or “Rivers,” they don’t know that one is a Russian-paid propagandist and the other is an “anonymous” coward. Readers deserve to know this, and journalism used to be a thing where full disclosure was a requirement. One of the dangers here is that editorial cartooning will not be seen as journalism in the future, if it’s still being seen that way today. If we’re not journalists and signing our actual names to our work isn’t important anymore, then let’s just go ahead and be replaced by internet memes.”
As I read this I thought 1–gads I would love to see Clay, Rivers and Rall in a cage match….. holding them accountable would be sight… but then it would never happen. Rivers is “anonymous” and Rall is too slippery. I also thought 2–as a political cartoonist I am pathetically uninformed and 3–Cagle wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire…. guess I’m not the only one.