CSotD: The Serious Business of Journalism

American/Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed yesterday while covering an Israeli Defense Force raid on a Palestinian neighborhood with a significant militant presence. Moroccan cartoonist Derkaoui Abdellah (Cartoon Movement) offers a simple commentary, with her blood symbolizing the cutting off of reporting from the troubled area.

Libyan cartoonist Alajili Elabidi is more direct in blaming IDF forces for firing the shots that killed Abu Akleh and wounded Ali Al-Samudi, her producer. Both were wearing helmets and flak jackets identifying them as journalists.

There has not been a confirmation of who shot the journalists, though Al-Samudi has said it was the Israelis. Their reports of crossfire from Palestinian militants have not been backed up.

Because Abu Akleh held American citizenship, the US government is joining in the voices demanding an investigation.


Abu Akleh, 51, was neither the first nor only journalist to die while covering Palestine, but she was the most famous, and the Reliable Sources Newsletter quotes a CNN producer who explains the sense of loss:

We’ll have to see where this goes: We seem to have largely forgotten the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, and, obviously, Jared Kushner has declared that all is forgiven.

But while Khashoggi’s murder was all but done in broad daylight, he didn’t have the local status of Shireen Abu Akleh, and we already know that people in that part of the world have long memories.

Cartoon Movement is already flooded with cartoons of grief and fury, and it’s barely been 24 hours.

From this desk, it is a reminder that, when I say political cartoonists must also be journalists, it’s hardly as risky an undertaking for Americans as it is in other countries, which is all the more reason for them to step up.


We still operate, after all, in a place where Tom Tomorrow can mock politicians, media and a complacent public without fear of being jailed, though there are too many newspaper editors who dare not run political cartoons that express opinions with which readers might disagree.

Paying the bills might therefore suggest bland commentary on kids who stare at their phones and people who don’t scoop after their dogs, but flipping burgers also pays bills.


“They came for the sidewalk artists,
but I was not a sidewalk artist … “

Even when a politician serves up an apparent softball, cartoonists like Benjamin Slyngstad have to know that pro-life editors won’t be interested in pointing out the obvious folly. Like a chalk message, their readers might see it as criminal activity!


Which means you might as well throw some heat, as JR Duquette does.

It remains a ludicrous, pompous, privileged, childish over-reaction, but he’s right: It’s also a sign of partisan hypocrisy with far more serious implications.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Drew Sheneman)


(Gary Varvel – Creators)

I will admit ambivalence over those who gather in front of politicians’ houses. I think it’s a foolish provocation that won’t change what’s happening but hands the opposition ammunition.

Sheneman uses the demonstrations to mock Alito’s asinine historical reasoning, and his fair commentary is gentle compared to others on the topic, but Varvel throws a conniption fit that makes you wonder why he didn’t put pieces of felonious chalk in the hands of those evil flying monkeys.

Of course, Biden never encouraged doxxing Supreme Court Justices, nor did he suggest shooting protesters or assaulting hecklers at his rallies or firing people for peaceful demonstrations.


In fact, he put out a statement condemning the practice, though admittedly after Varvel’s cartoon appeared.

But I haven’t discovered where Biden and Schumer did anything beyond encouraging people to speak up.

Rightwing commentators may have based their outrage on a rumor spread on partisan platforms that falsely said Alito had to move his family to a secure location. It wasn’t a lie, simply a stupid, unverified piece of irresponsible gossip, but, again, there is a moral and ethical requirement to be a journalist if you’re going to act like one.

BTW, I’ve also long thought it counterproductive for pro-life extremists to gather around Planned Parenthood clinics and scream “Murderer!” at women who may have been coming for a mammogram.

But pro-lifers could simply point up at the scoreboard, because they’re currently winning.



Juxtaposition of the Day

(AF Branco – Creators)

(Adam Zyglis)

A wise woman once observed, “Math class is tough!” and perhaps that’s why we find Branco and Zyglis on the same side of the aisle for a change.

Trashing Biden for the economy has become a bipartisan topic, though the late Eric Boehlert wondered, in his final column, why the press was so hard on a president who seemed to be doing relatively well on the economy, all things considered.

There has been a turndown in the first quarter, but, as Dana Peterson, The Conference Board Chief Economist, told Bloomberg, there’s a pretty robust pony under that pile. Anyone suggesting that a dip in the GDP isn’t so bad or that inflation could be worse is apt to be suspect these days, but the Conference Board is hardly a liberal cheering section.

In any case, Branco has an odd sense of how steroids work:

Here’s the rate of inflation during the Carter years, running from a low of 6% as he came into office at the end of the Ford administration and topping out at 13.5% before settling near 8% at the end of Carter’s term.

The current rate as of April is 8.3%, down two tenths since March.

If that’s the effect of steroids, why do they ban athletes for taking them?


Meanwhile, as Dana Peterson told Bloomberg, the dip in GDP growth is real, but not real scary when you look into what it tells us and what it doesn’t.

One of the issues for political cartoonists, of course, is that they have to be generalists and so are apt to wander into areas where they lack expertise. Perhaps if more of them worked in newsrooms, they could invite a colleague with specific knowledge to lunch before they start drawing, but that’s now rarely possible.

Still, political cartooning is journalism, and, even when it’s funny, it’s hard work and serious business.

Here’s to the mission, whether practiced in your office on a Wacom or in a flak jacket near the Jordan:


One thought on “CSotD: The Serious Business of Journalism

  1. Right now, the key piece of evidence is in contention per the NYT:

    Palestinian officials say that Israel cannot be trusted to investigate the killing, while Israeli officials say that the Palestinians are refusing to provide the bullet in order to obscure its origin.

    So at this point what we know about this depend on what story we want to tell ourselves.

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