Newspapers’ Cartoon Fairness Index

So gold and rare coin proponent Mike Fuljenz used part of his September 6, 2023 column to discuss how he can, after a few days, decide on a newspaper’s political bias by the editorial cartoons the paper carries.

As I travel the nation meeting with other industry leaders and giving insight on issues impacting the numismatic and precious metals community, I don’t have time to watch all the local TV news or read all the local editorials but a quick glance at their daily political cartoons gives me a hint about their political balance or bias. If I am in a town for three or four days at a major money show, I will tally the political cartoons each day in the largest newspaper in that city and if the cartoon index leans 100% in one direction or the other, I can assume their editorials and political bias also lean in that same direction. In the rare case in which they “harpoon” candidates of both political parties equally, I tend to believe that I have found a reasonably fair news outlet.

© John Branch/Houston Chronicle

Later in the column Mr. Fuljenz looks at late night comic talk show hosts, but with newspapers, after chastising The New York Times and The Washington Post for not endorsing a Republican Presidential candidate since Ike, the Beaumont, Texas resident compares The Houston Chronicle and The Beaumont Enterprise, both Hearst papers.

In our local area, the Houston Chronicle editorial board has been more balanced [than The Times and The Post] … I wish I could say the same for their political cartoons, which have not harpooned liberals in the last 12 days. Their cartoonist has become “nose blind” to his/her bias. Contrast that with another Hearst Publication I subscribe to and advertise in, The Beaumont Enterprise, that is typically balanced in targeting the left and the right.

© Nick Anderson for Houston Chronicle/R.A.News

I don’t subscribe to The Houston Chronicle but my guess is his reference to “their cartoonist” is to John Branch; though Nick Anderson‘s full page special comic appeared just before the Fuljenz column. And it is Texas where Republican Attorney General Paxton has come into a fair share of cartooning, and front page, notoriety of late.

I do agree with him that editorial page cartoons are a good way to deduce a newspaper’s political leanings.

4 thoughts on “Newspapers’ Cartoon Fairness Index

  1. Right, the guy with the big ad for the NRA on his blog is an expert on what’s “fair and balanced.

    All I can tell is that this is some guy with a (wordy and poorly-formatted) blog about rare coins or something—not sure why that gives him more expertise about editorial cartooning and journalism than the other random cranks that write in my local paper.

  2. I’ve never read any local newspaper. largely because I live in a purple state, that had only one side’s editorial cartoons or the others (I’m too young to have recognized it in The Milwaukee Sentinel, when as a Hearst-owned paper, it was, largely, rightwing prior to being bought out by the Journal in the ’60s). But for the most part, every editor I’ve observed has been deathly afraid of providing the weakest-minded sycophants in their readership visual evidence that they’re favoring one party or the other. In my state, at least in the large metropolitan area’s papers that can afford editorial cartoons, you’re likely to have a 50-50 party split in your subscription base, and even if you are leaning left or right, you make sure you represent both sides to placate them both–or you risk not having the money to do either.

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