And so it begins.
Ed Hall is no Trump fan, but he joined other cartoonists in piling on Joe Biden for telling a joke in a limited forum that didn’t play well with a broader audience.
In posting this on his Twitter account, Hall said “I’ll take shit for this cartoon but I really don’t care.”
And since he’s a pal whose work I admire, I’m going to hope that’s true.
In case you missed it, Biden had to wrap up a radio interview on a show aimed at African-American Millennials, and was asked to come back to answer more questions.
He joked that, if you still had questions about whether to vote for him or for Trump, “you ain’t black.”
Which statement about the best interests of the community was quickly misquoted as suggesting that people who didn’t vote for him were not “black enough,” not just by Trump supporters but by those who continue to hope Bernie will rise from the ashes.
And by those looking for a quick laugh, and lazy reporters looking for a quick, clickable story to file.
As Bill Kristol tweeted:
It’s a bit asymmetric out there…
Biden: Makes silly jokey comment about African-American voters.
Democrats: Urge Biden to apologize, which he does.
Trump: Calls three African-American journalists dumb within the last month.
Those of us who remember how the “Al Gore is a liar” media narrative helped sink his candidacy are having flashbacks of the giggles insisting he said he invented the Internet, that he discovered Love Canal, that he and Tipper were the inspiration for the couple in “Love Story.”
The last was sortakinda a misstatement, in that he said he and his college roommate Tommy Lee Jones and their girlfriends inspired Segal, who later said it was mostly Tommy Lee.
The rest was lousy reporting and false accusations, and this Vanity Fair article is a brilliant takedown of a massive media feeding frenzy.
It includes this telling passage:
“Particularly in presidential elections … we in the press tend to deal in caricatures,” says Dan Rather, who was then anchoring for CBS. “Someone draws a caricature, and it’s funny and at least whimsical. And at first you sort of say, ‘Aw shucks, that’s too simple.’ In the course of the campaign, that becomes accepted wisdom.”
He notes, “I do not except myself from this criticism.”
And now we’re doing it again, to Biden, and I think it would be more defensible if it were in active, intentional service of Donald Trump.
Instead, it’s simply lazy reporting, and, as the Vanity Fair article explains brilliantly, once you’ve established that storyline, you can shape everything to fit it and be home in time for dinner.
I’d rather see it done out of malice, because to brush it off as harmless fun is an admission that your work has no impact or real purpose.
Mike Lester misquotes him, but I’m pretty sure Lester wants to see his campaign fail. Fair enough.
Elsewhere, this Juxtaposition
Two satiric shots at Mitch McConnell and his reluctance to spend more money helping people recover from the lockdown.
And two different approaches: Ohman offers a deeper criticism that assumes his readers have a relatively solid knowledge base about how McConnell operates.
It’s well-based, and, if you need more, check out this chilling Fresh Air podcast documenting a man who seeks wealth and power and little else.
By contrast, Sheneman takes a comic approach that focuses on the immediate issue of ending supplementary unemployment benefits, with a swipe at the disproportional impact of the lockdown on minorities.
All you need to know in this case is that McConnell could help and chooses not to.
I would suggest that Ohman’s approach is more geared to reinforcing how people who don’t like McConnell already feel about him, while Sheneman’s has a greater likelihood of sparking a few conversions.
By coincidence, Matt Davies also seized upon the lifeguard metaphor, but suggests depraved indifference rather than the actual malice implicit in Sheneman’s piece.
There’s more humor in Davies’ approach, particularly in the goofy caricature, then in either Ohman’s or Sheneman’s cartoon.
Ohman’s cartoon is like a well-reasoned column, Sheneman offers fury and Davies utilizes mockery.
Three good approaches to the same target. The real satirist is the one who can choose which of those arrows to draw from the quiver at a given moment and knows why, even without being able to explain it.
These two really contrast in their approaches to the same topic.
Granlund simply lays out the argument in graphic form, which isn’t humorous, though he uses clever wording.
But his reasoning is solid and there’s no need for him to reach beyond this explanatory approach. There are solid reasons not to gather indoors — including the fact that singing projects viruses farther than normal speech — and there can be community even in virtual meetings.
In fact, there can be greater community in the sense of crisis an on-line religious service makes plain, which matters when a church is trying to offer relief programs as well as prayer meetings.
It’s not as good as being fed to lions, but religion has often thrived under pressure.
Meanwhile, Telnaes flies past the issue of in-church or on-line to focus on the bizarre relationship between Trump and his Christian evangelical supporters who don’t care that he’s not simply unchurched but acts in defiance of nearly every tenet Jesus preached.
Yet, as she notes with furious derision, he panders to them not only granting them privileges that have nothing to do with First Amendment protections, and not just posing as one of them, but calling himself “The Chosen One” and holding himself out to be a perennial victim of unfair treatment by the pagans and immigrants and unclean.
Granlund is more likely to persuade and convert, but the comfort Telnaes offers is a lot of fun.
Continue the conversation with this brief (3:50) piece from “Satire Can Save Us All”