This Is Why It’s Time For Political Cartoons To Go


Here (and above) is a sample of the bumper crop of political cartoons inspired by the Donald Trump, Jr. aborted meeting to acquire damaging information on Hillary that never materialized.

They are all, to various degrees, unfair, misleading, or simply untrue. Why is this acceptable? If presenting a false representation of the truth is required to make a joke, and the intended audience accepts what is false as fact, how is that justifiable?

The cartoon above, one of the most unethical, is typical of the work of Tom Toles, the Washington Post’s relentlessly biased cartoonist.

The others are presented below, in approximate order of unfairness and dishonesty.

They collectively state that there has been treason, a crime, corruption, collusion and conspiracy, and that there is actual, as opposed to speculated, “news” that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to interfere with the election. This is old fashioned yellow journalism-style political cartooning, throwing red meat to members of the public who want to believe that the President of the United States is a traitor so they can undo the election. That isn’t funny. That’s disgusting.

As I wrote in 2012, focusing on another dishonest and partisan Toles cartoon:

” Political cartooning peaked as a form of commentary about half a century ago, and has been declining ever since. Now it is dominated by hateful, unfunny and witless culture warriors who have as much in common with Jules Feiffer and Bill Mauldin as Mario Mendoza had in common with Hank Aaron. Are there exceptions? There are always exceptions. Pat Oliphant, Exhibit A, is brilliant, nuanced and clever; he’s also 77 years old, the last of the greats. If there are Oliphants out there, legitimate commentators who can make fair and honest observations with humor and a pen, great: what a wonderful alternative to the typical pundit rants. Put them on the editorial pages. The standard, however, should be content, not form. Political cartoons were once an efficient means of aiming a thousand words at non-readers and members of the public without the skills or education to grasp complex issues. They have become a vehicle for the unqualified and trivial-minded to acquire a platform they don’t deserve, to the detriment of the public and journalism.”

Now the evidence:




35 thoughts on “This Is Why It’s Time For Political Cartoons To Go

    • The whole Russian meme was started by a party that actually colluded with the Russians, both historically and during the Obama Admin.

      Russia bought Uramium One by providing Clinton Founion donations
      ‘Tell Putin I’ll have more flexibility after the election’
      DNC asking Ukraine for dirt on Trump
      Hillary worked with greenies, who were taking money from Russia, to spread false propaganda against fracking, and to destroy the American fossil fuel industry

      Democrats colluded with the USSR FOR DECADES

  1. I would call the “Lock him up!” one the worst of a bad bunch, since in addition to its message, the art is unattractive and dull (and lazy– he only wrote “lock him up” three times, then used copy-and-paste).

  2. I notice both Trump and Donald Jr. have the Nixon beard. Could it be that the cartoonist is trying to imply something? The one with Donald Jr.’s hand in the cookie jar is pretty funny though. Unfortunately, presidents in the past have been portrayed as morons (Ford), sanctimonious fools (Carter), mousie little wimps (Obama), and greedy bastards (FDR). I really don’t think this is going to stop.

    • Ridicule and insults are standard for this juvenile art form. Representing falsehood as truth should not be. There was no “conspiracy.” There is no “crime scene.” Unlike Clinton, there is no law involved that could result in anyone being locked up. These are lies.

      • Isn’t lying on one’s security clearance a crime that carries a jail sentence? Of course that only applies to Kushner, not Don Jr.

        I like the Gingerbread house one and the cookie jar one, though it would be funnier without the “conspiracy cookies” label. I hate when political cartoonists unnecessarily label things. The rest are not very good. And “lock her up” was petty and stupid when Trump supporters did it; my side parroting it back is equally petty and stupid.

        • To the best of my knowledge, it is grounds for having your clearance denied (if not already granted) or immediately revoked (if already granted) and you’d be barred from ever having a clearance successfully adjudicated in the future.

          But I don’t think that–by itself–it rises to the level of criminal court and jail time like the actual misuse of classified information could.


  3. I think that there is a place for political cartoons when they focus on ill conceived legislation (How about the Obamacare Hindenberg) or awful political decisions if they are truthful and based in fact. A little mockery in those cases is a good thing. Still, they are only a signpost in understanding issues.

  4. I agree that the cookie jar smear is the best of those shown, and the only one nearly worth publishing. It has parallels to:
    “I didn’t inhale.”
    “Like, with a cloth?” and
    “Nothing was marked classified.”
    I’m probably forgetting a parallel to something said about Obamacare.

      • I was thinking of that one, but hesitated, because that was more of a true lie and less of a deflection.

    • The best…except that the episode didn’t involve theft or crime, and probably wouldn’t have been a legal violation if the actual information had been conveyed….especially if he hadn’t eaten the “cookies”, as in actually using the information…and the cookie jar didn’t initiate the meeting.

      Other than that, a brilliant and perceptive analogy.

      • Okay, I came back and re-read, and re-examined the cartoons. I think I pick up your sarcasm, Jack. I do like the little satanic trident for the lapel pin, and the white cat on “the Godfather’s” arm – those little touches mean a lot. I mean, if it’s a Big Lie you want to push, that “Godfather” one is a Goebbels Special.

  5. Hey Jack, I’ve been meaning to ask, did your spam filter kill my Email to you? I sent an email on roughly this topic about a couple weeks back, and I was wondering whether you didn’t see it or didn’t think it was worth a reply?

  6. The Wisconsin State Journal’s resident cartoonist, Phil Hands, leans left but plays both sides of the aisle.

    Every two weeks he posts a cartoon with no caption and allows people to submit theirs with the winner being published and getting a signed print.

    Despite numeropus personal submissions from which to choose, he has yet to acknowledge my esoteric genius.

  7. I like political cartoons, but I’m biased; I wrote and illustrated the political cartoons for my high school newspaper (Go Bears!).

    But my adviser taught me to always be careful with making my point, and to be as accurate as possible even in this medium. My natural instinct is not to offend, and to make a point without being misleading, though I don’t always succeed at this. Making my cartoons for a large audience that didn’t always agree with my politics (the Valley is pretty conservative, and I went from conservative to liberal in the summer before my freshman year) taught me how to make a point in a cartoon while still being fair.

    I think Barry Deutsch is a cartoonist who does this very well. While he has a very clear lefty point of view, he is also receptive of criticism, and is always willing to listen to people who think his point is somewhat off, or could be better portrayed with certain changes. I think that kind of attitude is necessary for political cartoons to be more than what you say they are, Jack, even though the majority are probably worth your condemnation here.

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