CSotD: Commenting on Shifting Facts

It’s only fair to point out that this Mike Lester (AMS) cartoon ran a few days before Biden suddenly racked up some significant gains in the all-important swing states that could decide the 2024 Presidential Election.

If polls determined elections, Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016. Tracking polls is part of horserace coverage, and is either (A) the choice of a news organization more interested in clicks and ratings than in providing substantive information or (B) a deliberate attempt to skew opinions so that backers of the “winner” will show up on Election Day and backers of the “loser” will be discouraged and will stay home.

Granted, given the loss of staff positions, political cartoonists have a cynical motivation to draw what editors will purchase, but they also have a valid cheerleader role that goes back to the beginning of the art form.

If a cartoonist draws a cartoon simply because it will sell, that’s shameful, but if it’s an attempt to shift opinions, that’s the job. Certainly, looking at Lester’s work as a whole, he’s a rightwing cheerleader if not a dedicated MAGAt, so there’s nothing wrong with his cartoon.

The facts simply shifted under his feet. It happens.

Bad Day at the New Yorker

Adam Douglas Thompson

Maddie Dai

On the other hand, there are times when you have an obligation to keep up with shifting facts, and the New Yorker blew it by running these cartoons whenever they update their online cartoons, either late yesterday or early this morning. But after we learned why the Princess of Wales had been making herself scarce and why she tried to paper over her absence with a doctored photo.

Stephen Colbert explained his jokes about her mysterious disappearance and the rumors, but commenting on the irresponsible speculation was fair play.

Even if the folks at Private Eye seem to be claiming to be awash in taste and sensitivity. Unless their cover is a tasteless joke and they have no such intentions.

I’m aware of deadline issues. I used a “bridge” headline yesterday, which I wrote in the wee hours of the morning before the disaster in Baltimore had hit the news, and, when I was writing a humor column for a monthly magazine, I once had to hold my breath hoping Ted Kennedy wouldn’t finally declare his intentions in the nearly two months between my deadline and the magazine going off the newsstands.

I also pulled an explainer for kids about the Taliban a day before it was set to run on 9/12, then wrote and substituted a less topical piece, at a paper which had earlier printed, then had to trash, a number of “Gore Wins” editions on Election Night 2000.

It happens, and I’m sympathetic to the fact that the print edition of the New Yorker was likely printed and in the mail before Princess Catherine disclosed her cancer.

But somebody should have yanked these off the website. Somebody should do it right now. The benefit of being online is the ability to adjust with breaking news.

Do your job.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Rick McKee — Counterpoint

Pat Bagley

Not all shifting facts are bad news, and while MAGAts are whining about “free speech,” the fact that NBC brass was willing to listen to their employees and un-hire Ronna McDaniel is not only good news for honest coverage but excellent news for worker relations.

I’m not going to re-litigate the difference, as Bagley notes, between a partisan and a liar. We looked at that in some depth yesterday and had touched on it Sunday.

McKee can chortle over the blunder, but I retain the right to mock Hugh Hewitt, who has an important role as a token rightwing unreadable columnist at the Washington Post.

I like Hewitt’s theory that you can sue people for saying mean things about you and for deciding not to have you on their payroll. I’m pretty sure that’s what the Founders meant when they wrote the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no laws that hurt anybody’s feelings or keep them from making big bucks on TV.” You can check out the video clip for yourself.

But it’s nearly April and we should be done with snowflakes for awhile, shouldn’t we?

The non-partisan point should be that it’s good that people at NBC and MSNBC spoke up, and even better that management listened.

Imagine if all companies operated like that.

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

Pedro X. Molina — Counterpoint

Joe Heller

There’s an old piece of cowboy wisdom that goes “Never miss a good chance to shut up,” and the bridge collapse in Baltimore provided an excellent opportunity to do just that.

There’s nothing wrong with Molina’s basic metaphor, because, yes, authoritarianism can certainly destroy democracy, as he’s seen himself in his native Nicaragua.

I’m dubious, though, of jumping to use it before we know what happened, and I appreciate Heller’s response to the idiotic rumors not simply flying around barrooms but being put out by commentators whom we can assume are sober.

We don’t know what happened, but I doubt it had to do with border issues 1800 miles away or the hiring of people with dark skin.

Have any of these racist screwballs been in the Navy? Because between 15 and 20 percent of sailors in 1812 were Black, and complete desegregation happened in 1946.

You don’t have to be a white Anglophone to sail a ship properly.

In any case, I don’t think a disaster like this is appropriate for staging metaphors. Randy Bish offers what people want to see right now.

Even in political cartooning, there are times when less is more.

Honest Don has a book for you!

I’m learning not to bother researching Rabbits Against Magic.

Dear Leader genuinely announced he’d like to be known as “Honest Don.” Once again, it’s not that you can’t make this stuff up; it’s that you don’t have to.

Dave Whamond points out that Honest Don’s latest money-making scam is to sell a book he’s never read (which, BTW, he was not holding upside down that day).

The sacrilege of his weirdly edited MAGAt edition — and the scumminess of his overall money-grasping — defies commentary, or would if Ruben Bolling hadn’t reminded us of this depiction of a classic con job.

15 thoughts on “CSotD: Commenting on Shifting Facts

  1. And don’t forget Billy Barty in Foul Play, selling the New American Bible, “A translation you can believe in.”

  2. My memory of 2016 was that most apologists for the Clinton loss were of the opinion that the polls calculated Trump’s odds of winning as so miniscule (somewhere I’ve saved the odds run on Huffington Post the day of the election, and they were microscopic) that Clinton’s supporters thought their voting would be needless piling on and stayed home, costing her what everyone believed was a certain win. (We’ll never know for sure.) So it probably works both ways–making polls rather pointless, wouldn’t you say?

  3. To paraphrase Mark Twain…there are lies, there are damned lies, and there are polls.

  4. But bc I’m just back from a week of spring training baseball and feeling charitable, if you post any Madalyn Kahn clip from “PAPER MOON” (-especially the one where she has to pee) on this site that purports to offer

    “industry news for the professional cartoonist” (God that’s funny)

    I’ll forgive you. -ML

    1. I want to apologize, Mike, for saying you were actually a principled conservative and not just a mindless, heel-clicking tool. I guess I didn’t realize you’d be so offended.

      1. How could I be offended when you proved the point of my cartoon? I’m validated. Thanks.

        Off topic: I do think it’s interesting in light of NBC firing Rona McDaniel that editorial cartooning did what NBC did before it was cool: censor conservatives. They were so good at it five years ago the Pulitzer committee did away w the editorial cartoon award. And they wondered why?

        I know why: because the Road Runner needs the Coyote, Elmer needs Daffy and Popeye needs Bluto, etc. etc.

        Find that Madalyn Kahn clip. I fell in love w her in PAPER MOON. -ML

      2. I thought the point of your cartoon is that Trump’s polls are rising. As I noted and documented, they aren’t. I gave you a pass because you likely drew the cartoon before his polls began falling.

        And I’m aware of professional loyalty. When I was in talk radio, I had to do on-air promos for whatever clients the sales team drummed up.

        Still, I think you should cast a wider net. Fox News, Newsmax, Town Hall will give you that point of view, but the “mainstream media” will at least provide food for thought, particularly if you take the time to check their sources.

        I’m not suggesting you be disloyal to your client list. But there’s more to life than paying the rent.

  5. Trump said the Bible was his favorite book.

    Pretty sure he already revealed Main Kampf is his favorite book.

    1. The weird thing about that is that the paper got out of the building and into the newsstands. With the “Bush Beats Gore” papers, nearly all were caught and killed before they were distributed, but some papers sold them as souvenirs. Of what? Of your incompetence? We trashed ours and pledged to do better in the future.

      1. BTW, in the movie “Libeled Lady,” only a few copies of a bogus story leave the building, but it’s enough to trigger a lawsuit such that editor Spencer Tracy has to send William Powell off to have a for-real affair with Myrna Loy so her father can’t sue the paper. And, sure enough, the old man has spotted the libel and intends to sue. Wonderful classic comedy, not so funny in real life. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027884/

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