Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cartoonist Under Fire

Part of Wednesday's future-forecasting strip, from the L.A. Times article discussed below.

Newspapers may have the right to make political predictions, but what about cartoonists? Purposely satirical and unabashedly liberal comic strips like “Doonesbury” might seem like they should have free reign on expressing political views. The concern here is that the accuracy of the strip’s prediction may be off, and that the 1,400 newspapers running the strip might be unfairly associated with the strip’s incorrectness. “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau has already prepared a strip for Wednesday’s papers, in which Obama is celebrated as the victor of the presidential election. The L.A. Times reports the story, and John Robinson from The Editor’s Log takes a critical angle of attack. A commenter named Anne writes in response to Robinson’s post that any conservative who “get[s] all fired up and blame[s] the newspaper is just like a liberal Democrat tuning in to Fox News, getting angry and blaming the cable company. Change the fricking channel.” Trudeau himself responds in a Washington Post article, claiming that he chose the topic to be part of history, rather than write about something else. Why all the fuss over someone who is certainly more of a commentator than a reporter? Robinson emphasizes Trudeau’s obvious political leanings, and Trudeau notes that if his cartoon is inaccurate, it will hardly be noticed. The bigger issue is that Trudeau is hardly the only one predicting Obama to win on Tuesday, so why is his prediction taking center stage?

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Funny, off-the-beaten-path subject. Would have loved to see you think more contextually, driftnet fishing around the Web for similar examples of the seemingly growing tendency to look to the court jester for the truths journalists dare not speak (Stewart, Colbert, SNL). Also, the irony-challenged inability to distinguish between social satire or hyperbolic parody and scrupulously reported fact says something about our moment, I think. Jack Shafer, over at SLATE, got his knickers in a twist awhile back, asking where the outrage was over the comic monologist David Sedaris's tendency to stretch the truth, to comic effect. Shafer seemed unaware that comic writers, from Twain to Sedaris, have used hyperbole and outright fabrication to wring laughs from quasi-autobiographical material. All of the hand-wringing over the Trudeau strip seems to evince a similar cluelessness. Not until the end of one of your linked articles does an editor point out the obvious: It's a COMIC STRIP, for the love of Mike. Is poetic license well and truly dead in our post-9/11, post-ironic Age of Overearnestness?!? (Pardon my rant!)