Ethics Observations On The Washington Post’s “Ted Cruz’s Kids Are Monkeys” Cartoon Uproar


Here’s what you need to know: Ted Cruz launched a political ad  that features the Texas Republican reading parody Christmas fare to his two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, stuff like “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails.”  Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes reacted with the drawing above, titled “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.” The children are portrayed as monkeys. Telnaes clearly knew she was on thin ice, and accompanied the cartoon with a justification (now pulled: if anyone has the whole text, I’d like to see it) saying in part,

“But when a politician uses his children as political props, as Ted Cruz recently did in his Christmas parody video in which his eldest daughter read (with her father’s dramatic flourish) a passage of an edited Christmas classic, then I figure they are fair game.”

Note: the daughters are 7 and 4.

Cruz cried foul in a tweet, and the news media and internet was beginning to tilt hard against the Post, when editor Fred Hiatt pulled the cartoon, writing,

“It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. 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.”

And here we are.


1. Cruz was indeed using his young children as political props. That’s unethical. All uses of children to promote things they don’t understand and are not old enough to consent to are unethical. Making funny YouTube videos using your children is unethical.

2. As political exploitation of candidates’children goes, however, this was minor stuff.

3. The cartoon is making a standard (and far from original) analogy of someone dominating and demeaning others by treating them as organ grinder monkeys. It was primarily aimed at Cruz. It is a lousy cartoon, however, because the characterization of the children as monkeys overshadows any criticism of Cruz.

4. The fact that Telnaes felt she had to justify the cartoon even as she posted is shows that her ethics alarms sounded, and she intentionally chose to ignore them. She knew this was unfair to Cruz’s daughters, and went ahead anyway.

5. Thus does bias make you stupid, which explains why the mainstream media acts so stupid so often. She knew it was wrong, but talked herself out of taking the appropriate action—junking her cartoon–because she really doesn’t like Ted Cruz. Because the girls were his daughters, cognitive dissonance lowered them beneath the level at which a child’s feelings matter to a progressive cartoonist.

6. The cartoon was called racist. I don’t get it. Ted Cruz and his daughters are as white as white can be. Is portraying whites as lower primates racist now? I must have missed that memo.

7. Now, President Obama’s daughters were used in one of his 2008 political ads. It is safe to say that if a cartoonist had mocked them as organ-grinder monkeys, he or she would have been tarred and feathered, with the Washington Post leading the mob. That would have been called racist, even if the cartoonist was only making the same point Telnaes was. This is the partisan and racial double standard that has had its boundaries constantly expanded by Democrats and progressives far beyond monkey jokes.

8. The rhetorically gifted conservative blogger Ace of Spades writes…

[ Fred Hiatt] seems to be saying there’s a good reason for Ann to think this was an “exception” — because Cruz’ kids were in an ad. Okay, well Obama’s kids were also in an ad — would the liberal Fred Hiatt agree, or at least “understand,” why people might think that also serves as a “warranted” “exception” to justify an attack on his kids?

See, bias made Fred stupid too. Hiatt’s whateveritwas was terrible. He was equivocal; he did not apologize to Cruz or his family. No big deal!  Just a difference of opinion whether a 4 and 7 year-old should be attacked in a major newspaper and portrayed as ridiculous and inhuman as a way of striking at a politician the Post staff reviles.

9. The editor didn’t review a cartoon that the cartoonist knew was going to be controversial before it was run? Who gets fired for this? Apparently nobody is accountable.

10. And yet they still deny that there is a liberal media bias….

11 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Washington Post’s “Ted Cruz’s Kids Are Monkeys” Cartoon Uproar

      • I’m not sure we’re the kind of people who would see it normally, but maybe the people crying racism are attempting to make the progressives live by their own rules. Would a progressive scream racism if a Hispanic person was caricatured as a monkey? Safe bet. You also have to look at her history… This is of course the same woman who depicted Cruz wearing an over-sized sombrero with tea bags hanging off it. Cuban person wearing a Mexican sombrero because he’s Hispanic? Probably racist.

      • As HT says below, I think the left and their use of the term “person/people of color” would in fact be used to describe a Cuban if the left thought that would be advantageous. A Cuban living in Cuba would be considered a person of color by the left. A prosperous, educated, Cuban American living in Miami or somewhere in New Jersey would more likely be considered an opportunistic, traitorous, white, capitalist pig. Recall of course the desperate knot tying that led to George Zimmerman’s being described as a “white Hispanic.” So, to say Cubans are the same race as I am is of course accurate but doesn’t reflect current idiocy.

  1. It’s crappy mean-spirited hate for conservatives that liberals can do freely because they have the media bully pulpit. It’s nothing new and it’s the reason so many people like what Trump is saying. They think it’s time liberals suffered a little scorn and shame after dishing it out so freely. It’s a game conservatives will always lose, because conservatives are hypocrites when they’re rude, unethical, and snarky. Liberals are just doing what they do. I’d like to see a Geico commercial about that.

    • “Liberals are just doing what they do.” ..which is to say, being children, and probably get a pass for that reason. This is literally the only site I’ve noticed where the liberal commenters are both thoughtful and mature (as in not resorting to immature tactics).

  2. I’m sure Ted Cruz was mad about this stupid cartoon but would never play the race card. Mocking Cruz in a political cartoon is expected behavior by the media whether left or right. Going after his kid is just plain disgusting.

  3. The actions of Ted Cruz and the artist were very wrong.

    Ted Cruz started this whole thing with an advertising gimmick that inappropriately involved his children and that alone directly reflects on the character of both him and his wife – it showed very poor judgement and was unethical; in reaction to the unethical actions of the Cruz family, Ann Telnaes’ then spewed out a derogatory partisan cartoon that went way overboard, unethical is a mild way of stating my disdain for the actions of this artist.

    The artist should be fired. The editor is likely personally responsible for the lack of over site of this artist and should be personally reprimanded for putting in place a system that would allow such things to get published. If the newspaper chooses not to do these things in a very public way, it will transparency show the blatant partisan environment at the newspaper and add fuel to the fire that they are nothing but a bunch of partisan hacks.

  4. Using of children as the senator did was wrong, using the children as the Washington Post was wrong. Wonder when someone is going to take the higher road with showing ethics, morals and good values. We seem to be lacking this quality anymore within the U.S. along with common sense.

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