CSotD: Playing with the Truth

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.
Media: Hubbub.
Democrats: Urge Biden to apologize, which he does.
Trump: Calls three African-American journalists dumb within the last month.
Media: Crickets.
Republicans: Crickets.

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

(Jack Ohman)


(Drew Sheneman)

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.


Another Juxtaposition

(Dave Granlund)

(Ann Telnaes)

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”


14 thoughts on “CSotD: Playing with the Truth

  1. I think everything that can be said in order to point out what an ignorant, uneducated, lying, narcissist scumbag Trump is has been said. I do wish for two things however. Wouldn’t it wonderful if Fox “News” would on just one day
    tell the truth about what Trump says and does, in order to maybe open the eyes of the FAKE religous evangelicals. Another wish would be for the nightly news to report the news with the candor that Colbert, Kimmel and Fallon do on their prospective shows.
    I despise Tump so much and am so afraid of another term for him, that I have made myself physically ill. I am not religous, but I do believe in karma. I think that we are being pumished for all the horrible things Trump has done to black people, women, American Indians, but especially
    Latino’s. The spiritual winds are making us all pay for not stopping him as well as putting a dictator wanna be in charge in the first place.

  2. Emily Galloway – I agree with you completely. But, unfortunately, Trump is just a symptom of the mistreatment of blacks, women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, minorities, etc. He personifies it, but it has existed – better concealed – since the country was founded. (And it is not just a US problem.)

  3. The fat pig who I call the Orange Lowlife is deserving of a come uppance in the coming election. I you still support Trump you are either paid off or missing many screws in your head. The economy under him was doing what it did under Reagan and W, i.e. a bunch of good years leading to an economic disaster.

  4. Joe Biden is the Gaffemeister; be prepared for more. The question is, do we want a President who occasionally says something stupid (and usually doesn’t mean it the way it sounds) or the tsunami of BS that spews from Trump, who really means it, and perhaps worse.
    As far as church attendance goes, most reasonable people will probably stay home, as I plan to. That leaves die-hard Trump supporters in the pews. If they want to get sick and die for Trump, that’s fine with me. The problem is that they will spread the virus. Ironically, we as a society must try to save them from their own stupidity, in order to save ourselves from their stupidity.

  5. All the misstatements of Biden in the last 40 years would equal one Trump press conference.

  6. Actually Trump has done more for the black community an
    d prison reform than any president since Kennedy. I am not a fan of Trump myself, but I am a realist & the world really is better off than it was just 5 years ago excluding a virus he had no control over. If you don’t listen to the media and just look around the real world you’d see this. Just look up a list of accomplishments he’s done for minorities. You’d be really surprised at the length of the list because the media doesn’t cover anything that doesn’t fit their narrative. At least the Clinton Mafia didn’t get in. They’ve fleeced the minorities long enough.

  7. Sorry, Scott. Trump had plenty of control over this. Instead of a comprehensive, coordinated response, he chose to waste time promoting conspiracy theories, flat-out lies, and dangerous medical quackery. He left the governors to fend for themselves, which most of them have done quite admirably. Leaving the states on their own without any national leadership, Donald Trump has, in effect, turned this country into a confederacy. While this may please a lot of southern rednecks, I’m sure the Founders are spinning on their graves.

  8. Just a thought maybe someone can run with…

    Are Pompeo and Trump in a contest to see who gets to 300 lbs. first?

  9. It amazes me that there is anyone lacking enough in legitimate insults to Trump that they feel the need to resort to fat shaming or general body shaming. Yeah, Trump is a big guy, so what? Getting all uptight about it is really stooping to his level, and that is a loosing game for everyone.

    Let’s take Trump down as a lying hypocrite with no moral compass and no desire to do even some of the hard work of the job he signed up for. Let’s get rid of the man who can’t even be accountable to himself, whose own standards shift daily to fit the news narrative and to excuse whatever abuse or negligence he has most recently committed. Let’s get rid of that person, whether they are young or old fat, scrawny or incredibly toned, pasty white or bright blue, with the face of a young God or the face of Stalone… the point is, Trump is what makes Trump bad (well, with some help from McConnell) and while we can all chuckle at a characature, let’s not forget what we are actually fighting for.

    If, and I mean IF Biden wins, he’s going to be sailing into the storm. I have no doubt that Trump will pull every petty trick he can think of to make life difficult after his departure. Add that Biden will have a substantial contingent that backs him only to be rid of Trump and… that man is in for a rough time.

    Then again, he seems smart enough to know that, which might be the single best reason to vote for him in November.

  10. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call anyone the president. Actually he’s never really been one for me. I’m very afraid if he should get re-elected. Hopefully God will help ? us(US) all.

  11. #7: Let’s summarize:
    Trump has done lots for minorities. He did things. Things for minorities. Unnamed things. For minorities. Also, Clinton Cash!

    Nothing robotic about that at all.

  12. That “better off than it was just 5 years ago” was also a giveaway, since our elections are every 4 years. Probably from China or Russia. I never let disinformation and propeganda go unchallenged, even if it is phony.

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