Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…

The ethical quote:

These words are on the outside wall of the Museum of Natural History near the Teddy Roosevelt statue that will be coming down, according to the museum.

The quote is a far better memorial to Roosevelt  and his character than the statue.

The fair quote:

The question is how soon this will dawn on the groveling, and how soon the intimidated will have the courage to speak the truth.

The unethical quote:

The Washington Post issued a justification for its widely (and correctly) criticized 3000 word story about a politically incorrect  costume that a woman wore at the Halloween party of Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles two years ago. Because two vicious social justice Furies who were guests at the party decided that the current George Floyd Freakout presented  an opportunity to humiliate the woman and contacted the paper, it published 3000 words about an old, private incident, resulting in the woman losing her job, and Toles, who had refused to identify her when one of the vengeful and self-righteous women called him to re-open the episode, was embarrassed by his own employer.

The Post’s own readership found the paper’s news journalism ethics atrocious (as do I), prompting this response from a spokesperson to Fox News:

“Employees of The Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say. The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now,”

A simple “We’re sorry, we screwed up, the story never should have been written and we don’t know what came over us and we pledge to be more responsible and to exercise better judgment in the future” might have salvaged a smidgen of the paper’s rotting reputation. Instead we have more evidence of just how unethical and untrustworthy this rag is: Continue reading

Apparently I Don’t Understand The World Any More, Because This Story, From And About The Washington Post, Makes No Sense To Me At All (Or Maybe It Does)…

I end up defending the damnedest people on this blog.

Since 2012, I’ve put up three posts on what an unethical and obnoxious political cartoonist the Washington Posts’ Tom Toles is part of my ongoing campaign to retire the editorial cartoon completely, since  as Toles proves routinely, it  distorts facts under cover of being satire.  His commentary on the Wuhan virus has been especially despicable.

But I digress: I come to defend Toles, not to bury him.

Incredibly, the Washington Post learned this week that a guest wore a costume including blackface at a Toles Halloween party in 2018, and launched an investigation into it. This momentous event—from two years ago—was deemed so important that the Post assigned two reporters to the hot breaking story. From the result yesterday,

“At the 2018 party at the home of The Washington Post’s editorial cartoonist, [a]middle-aged white woman named Sue Schafer wore a conservative business suit and a name tag that said, “Hello, My Name is Megyn Kelly.” Her face was almost entirely blackened with makeup. Kelly, then an NBC morning show host, had just that week caused a stir by defending the use of blackface by white people: “When I was a kid, that was okay, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

…Some of the approximately 100 guests at the home of the cartoonist in the District’s American University Park neighborhood said they didn’t notice the blackface. Some noticed it and said nothing. A few people walked up to Schafer, who was then 54, and challenged her about her costume… Nearly two years later, the incident, which has bothered some people ever since but which many guests remember only barely or not at all, has resurfaced in the nationwide reckoning over race after George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Many protesters have called on white Americans to reassess their own actions or inactions when confronting violent and everyday racism alike.”

What one woman wore as a satirical Halloween costume as an obvious critical commentary, not of African-Americans but of super-white conservative Megyn Kelly’s on-air defense of wearing blackface has bothered “some people” for almost two years, the Post story says.  Wow. That’s incipient mental illness. “I just can’t sleep—I keep thinking about the blackface a woman I don’t know wore at Tom Toles’ party in 2018!” Such an assertion needs to begin a story about unhealthy race-grievance obsessions and their consequences, not a two-year old Halloween party.

Inspired by the George Floyd Freakout, one of the guests at Toles’ party, a woman of Puerto Rican heritage, decided this was the perfect time to contact Toles and complain about the Megyn Kelly costume. Got that? Because a cop killed a black man in Minneapolis and triggered protests and riots all over the country resulting in millions of dollars of property damage and hundreds of injuries and deaths, Lexi Gruber thought  the appropriate response for her was to call up the host of a 2018 party to complain about a guest’s makeup.

Last week Gruber emailed Toles, whom she had never met other than attending his party, and told him,

“In 2018, I attended a Halloween party at your home. I understand that you are not responsible for the behavior of your guests, but at the party, a woman was in Blackface. She harassed me and my friend — the only two women of color — and it was clear she made her ‘costume’ with racist intent.”

The e-mail went on to say that the incident had “weighed heavily on my heart — it was abhorrent and egregious.” She asked Toles to identify the woman.

This is where Toles’ progressive bias finally bit him. What he should have written in response was, “I’m sorry, but you should have dealt with that situation when it occurred. I am not responsible for what my guests do, nor am I responsible for helping other guests who decide two years later that they have a score to settle with one of them. Bye.” Instead, he responded by offering “apologies for your experience at the party. A lot of people show up who I don’t know, and I don’t recognize the woman you’re inquiring about.”

Ah, but as the Post’s crack investigative reporting team discovered—a team larger and more committed to justice than, say, the paper’s half-hearted investigation of Obama’s IRS’s efforts to squelch Tea Party activities during the 2012 Presidential campaign—Toles did know Schafer, who had been to his parties before and is a friend of his family. This meant the cartoonist was involved in a blackface cover-up, which is ironic since blackface is itself a coverup. And as the Post knows better than anybody, the coverup is worse than the crime, not that wearing an anti-Megyn Kelly costume with blackface at a private party is a crime. Not yet, anyway. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

Blame Tom Toles For This Post: NO, Obama Can NOT Honestly Claim That He Cut The Deficit

Toles deficit

While we’re on the topic of misleading statements, as in lies, foisted on the American public by the President of the United States, I now have to bring up his boast in his State of the Union speech that “We’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” [Don’t get me started with “all this.”]

I was going to leave this infuriating line alone, I really was, because when you get on the topic of deficits, the numbers-spinners have a field day. Then I saw Tom Toles’ cartoon, above, for the Washington Post.

Toles, if I haven’t made it clear before, is the worst of a breed that is itself a disgrace to journalism, a form of editorial content that is immune from the ethical restrictions that are supposed to govern journalism. It is the ultimate “clown nose on/ clown nose off” scam, and Toles exploits its license beyond the nauseating limits set by his over-rated predecessor, the equally biased but not quite as shameless Herb Block….you remember, the guy who drew all businessmen as obese, cigar-chomping robber barons out of the 1890s, and conservative Congress members as cavemen. Yeah, he was subtle and fair all right. Toles is much worse.

By what version of English and logic can anyone say that Obama reduced the deficit at all, much less by “almost three-quarters? Here is the chart of the deficits since 2005 in dollars: Continue reading

UPDATE: Hillary’s Ongoing Corruption Of Democrats, Progressives, and The News Media, Featuring MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell And Washington Post Editorial Cartoonist Tom Toles

First, Toles. This cartoon ran on Sunday:

Toles

Isn’t that nice? The whole e-mail episode, investigated by the FBI, raising issues of mishandling of classified information (which is a crime), destruction of evidence (which can be a crime, but is always unethical and suspicious) and competence (Hillary says the security implications of making sensitive communications on a private server never occurred to her!), and which Clinton continues to stonewall and lie about, is just an invention of the news media!

Poor Hillary! Look how frustrated she is! How can sending out paid spinners and liars to muddy the water and confuse the issues be a cover-up? How can destroying e-mails before they can be reviewed be a cover-up? How can the State Department employee that she paid to moonlight as her private e-mail tech taking the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying to Congress be part of a cover-up? How can an obvious cover-up be a cover-up?

This isn’t an ‘editorial cartoon.’ This is Spinning for Hillary, and for the Post to give it center page dominance on its editorial page is endorsing deception and partisan propaganda. Toles has always been a simplistic progressive hack; his cartoons make his predecessor Herb Block look even-handed. This goes beyond hackery, though, to misleading the public.  Or do you believe this is his real opinion? If so, he is too naive and dim-witted to have an editorial voice.

Andrea Mitchell’s Hillary enabling is of a different sort: rank cowardice. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: Time To Retire Editorial Cartoons—With Gratitude

Cartoonist and frequent combatant on Ethics Alarms Barry Deutsch did not disappoint—I was counting on a strong reply from him—in commenting on my post about political cartoonists. And I think he has me convinced. I think what I should have suggested, rather than advocating sending newspaper political cartoonists to the trash bin of history (soon to be followed by newspapers themselves), is that editors exercise some discretion over when an editorial cartoon, even by a respected cartoonist, just doesn’t meet editorial standards.

Here is Barry’s persuasive and educational Comment of the Day on the post Time To Retire Editorial Cartoons—With Gratitude:

“Oh, how could I possibly resist this thread?

“1) At his best, Tom Toles is a wonderful cartoonist, elegant and with an incredibly distinctive style. But he hasn’t been at his best for years. The particular cartoon you’re talking about — which can be seen here, if anyone’s curious — is an embarrassment.

“The problem with that Toles cartoon isn’t that it takes a side, or that it paints with a broad brush; many good cartoons do both those things. The problem is, it’s painfully stupid.

“2) There are good political cartoonists doing interesting work, but they’re mostly not found in mainstream newspapers.

“3) Even the best political cartoonists tend to produce more mediocre than great cartoons.

“4) It’s a very, very rare reader who can recognize the artistic merit of a political cartoon that they strongly disagree with politically.

“5) The economic base has fallen out from under political cartooning; every year, fewer and fewer newspapers support a staff cartoonist, and those that remain are seeing their incomes and outlets shrinking. And no one’s yet found a business model for political cartooning to thrive on the web.

“As a result, the most talented new cartoonists usually aren’t going into political cartooning, because they want to be able to eat and pay rent.

“6) Some of the most interesting political cartoonists have gone so far away from traditional political cartooning that no one even recognizes what they’re doing as political cartooning. See, for instance, Joe Sacco, who does journalism in comics form; his second book on Palestine, “Footnotes In Gaza,” is one of the best books about life in Gaza anyone’s done, in prose or comics.

Time To Retire Editorial Cartoons, With Gratitude

The nuanced subtlety of Pulitzer Prize winning Herb Block. Translation: "Nixon's a crook." Brilliant!!!

All right, hear me out. I love cartoons. I used to aspire to being a cartoonist. I have good friends who are cartoonists, and I know there are cartoonists who are strong contributors to Ethics Alarms. But for many years it has appeared to me that editorial cartoons have become an increasingly archaic form of commentary, one that misinforms the public and contributes to the venom and lack of nuance in public discourse.

Cartoons, by their very nature, deal in caricature, exaggeration and extremes for metaphorical and humorous effect. The practical effect of this, however, is that the opinions expressed through cartoons are also “supported” in a manner that would be outrageous in a written opinion piece. I know: you can’t hold a cartoon to the same standard as an op-ed. Fine—then don’t put it on the editorial pages. Continue reading