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Tom Toles appears on Paula Zahn’s show

Here is the transcript of Tom Tole’s appearence on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now.

ZAHN: And joining me now from “The Washington Post” newsroom to tell us what he was thinking when he drew the cartoon, Pulitzer Prize- winning editorial cartoonist Tom Toles.

Thanks so much for joining us, Tom.


ZAHN: So, you have heard what the Joint Chiefs of Staff said about your cartoon, that it was a callous depiction of soldiers who have suffered life-altering wounds.

How do you justify using war casualties to make a political point?

TOLES: The way I look at it is this. Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed two serious reports about the damage that has been done to the U.S. Army and — with the expression that it was battle-hardened. My feeling was that, in light of the damage that has been done to the Army, and the catastrophic suffering that has happened to a lot of American soldiers, that that expression did not appropriately cover the situation. And the cartoon was about my response to his — his comment.

ZAHN: But you were accused of also making light of some of the life-threatening injuries these soldiers have sustained. What specifically were you trying to provoke, basically, by showing a depiction of a quadruple amputee?

TOLES: I have heard a lot about this cartoon in the last day.

And I think it was best put by a disabled woman who called me today from California. And she said that she looked at the cartoon, and she found it very painful. On the other hand, she also said that she support — understood the point of the cartoon, supported the cartoon, and said, yes, it is a painful cartoon, but it is a painful reality.

And a depiction of a situation, a reality, a set of facts, is not the same thing as making fun of them. There was no intention to make light of the situation. I was trying to point out — and I felt I did point out — the seriousness of the situation.

ZAHN: When you drew this, though, you had to understand you were going to be criticized for it, right? That was — that had to be in — in your thinking.

TOLES: It was in my thinking.

It is also my thinking almost every day that I draw a cartoon. And the days that it is not in my thinking, I — I stop and think, if no one — no one could possibly take offense or issue with this cartoon, is it a cartoon that really makes its point effectively or with — with enough strength?

ZAHN: Well, Tom Toles, we appreciate your helping us understand your side of the story. Thank you for joining us.

TOLES: Thank you, Paula.

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