Ann Telnaes

Ted Cruz Battles Cartoons


cjones12252015

Ted Cruz is upset and very angry. I know that’s not breaking news and he’s usually upset and angry, but this time it’s for an interesting reason and an extremely stupid reason. OK, that’s not unique either and I’ll try again. Cruz is mad at the “liberal media.” Ah screw it.

Ted Cruz created a little satire of him and his family reading holiday classics with a twisted conservative bent. First off, Ted…you gotta stop reading out loud and trying to be cute. Stop reading Green Eggs And Ham on the Senate floor. Stop acting out bits from The Princess Bride. Anyone else can do it. You can’t. It’s creepy. by comparison, it makes Dick Cheney appear warm and cuddly. I digress.

In this witty little satire Cruz has his daughters reading lines, one even attacks Hillary over her email server and calls her the Grinch. Cute. A few days later Ann Telnaes, a Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist for The Washington Post (and creator of the best Dick Cheney caricature EVER), published a cartoon on their site where she draws Cruz as an organ grinder and his daughters are the monkeys. Mean? Yes. Justified? Absolutely. She did not caricature the daughters or name them.

Normally we cartoonists have a rule where we don’t go after children. But we do bend and break that rule when the politicians themselves use them as props. There is a line. Politicians posing with their children or letting the public get a glimpse of their family life isn’t really exploiting the kids (which every politician does). If the politician puts them into the fire and political mix, then they’re in the fire and you can go at it. The cartoonist didn’t expose them. Daddy did. Daddy is a hypocrite. Daddy is upset that someone exploited his children to make fun of him exploiting his children. How dare a cartoonists attack his children and draw them as monkeys. He said this was typical of the “liberal media.”

Later, the Post pulled the cartoon off their site with editorial page editor Fred Hiatt writing “I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.” Ted Cruz sent out an email with the cartoon to his supporters and saying he needed a million dollars within 24 hours to send the Post a message.

I watched CNN and MSNBC all day and nobody defended the cartoonist. That got me very angry. What angered me the most was that none of the talking heads were understood the issue. I saw a lot of posts on social media from conservative cartoonists who also also failed to grasp the issue. It annoyed me they would side with partisanship over professionalism. These same cartoonists were very silent when a cartoon ran in The New York Post depicting Obama as a monkey. They were also silent when Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton a dog and Amy Carter was the most unattractive presidential daughter in history, or when Glenn Beck mocked Malia Obama’s intelligence, or when Fox News Andrea Tantaros wondered out loud if Malia would go on birth control.

As I mentioned above, a lot of details where left out by the “liberal media” so I’m going fill in the gaps. I’m gonna start by sharing my friend Mike Peterson’s comment on the issue: “One of the oddities of our political scene is that the conservatives who criticize the climate of “victimization” and attack minorities for complaining over unfair treatment, and condemn any demand — even any request — for politeness as ‘Political Correctness’ turn out to be the biggest crybabies and whiners in our society” Yes. Republicans tend to reflect.

First off, Ann Telnaes is a friend of mine and she is excellent at what she does. I also know Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor, and I have a good history with him. He puts out a great page (especially when he runs my work…or used to after this). I agree with Ann and I disagree with Fred, which is not the first time I’ve disagreed with an editor. Ann was perfectly fine with her cartoon and it would have been nice if her paper and editor had her back. It would also be nice if a few more of her colleagues had her back. And yes, at times I have disagreed with liberal cartoonists in the past when they stirred a controversy.

Ted Cruz put his daughters out there. He gave them lines to call Hillary Clinton a Grinch. One of the books about the Speaker of the House had the speaker holding a glass of wine which is a shot at John Boehner. He is now using them to raise money. Ann should send him a bill for the cartoon. His campaign says they need to use them to raise the money, because the cartoon inflicted so much monetary damage that they will never make up. Seriously. They said that.

The Senator and his family were not attacked by the liberal media. Ted Cruz, not his children, was attacked by a cartoonist. The cartoonist is NOT the media. We’re just a part of it. Also, the cartoon is an opinion piece. It’s not news coverage or reporting. Journalism, yes. But this is not the “liberal media” coming out to get you. To state the entire media is represented by one cartoonist would be like me saying that because of Ted Cruz, every politician is a creepy, icky, awkward-goose-stepping, whiny, crybaby, friendless, Grandpa Munster looking, fascist pig. But I’m not gonna say that.

Other people have pointed out that you can’t draw Obama’s children as monkeys. Well d’uh. But there is a difference and it’s quite bizarre that it needs to be explained to you. The president’s children are black. Ted Cruz’s children are not. It’s a false equivalence. Stop being stupid.

I don’t expect this cartoon or column to make a huge splash in the current controversy. First off, I don’t have the platform of The Post. Second, I don’t think it would work in a Ted Cruz fundraising email. I do hope it stirs more discussion among my colleagues and readers.

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