By: Dorothy Giobbe
Newsday’s editorial page editor spikes Doug Marlette cartoon
panning broadcast celebrity Howard Stern as being in bad taste,
but North Carolina paper runs it with no reader complaints sp.
WHILE HOWARD STERN’S private parts have whipped up a storm of attention after publication of his best-selling book by that name, one place they won’t be exposed is in the pages of Newsday.
Earlier this month, James Klurfeld, editorial page editor at Newsday, decided not to run a cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette that satirized the radio shock-jock’s much-publicized bid for governor of New York.
The cartoon depicted Stern, in a trench coat and garters, flashing the Statue of Liberty, who exclaims, “It looks like a challenge to Cuomo’s leadership ? only smaller!”
“I’m not a big fan of Howard Stern, and my feeling was that to make a point about Howard Stern, you don’t have to get down to Stern’s level,” Klurfeld said. “Sometimes in the normal process of editing, you tell people that this is not their best work. Sometimes we change it, and sometimes we decide not to run it.”
Klurfeld said that in the four years he and Marlette have worked together, this is “maybe the third time that I’ve said I don’t like this and asked if there was something he could do.”
“Doug is a very good cartoonist. This was just a case where I decided that I didn’t think the cartoon was particularly funny,” he added.
Marlette said, “I was disappointed by the decision. It’s easy to offend as Stern proves everyday. That’s not what’s interesting to me and that’s not what’s challenging.”
He said that because “Stern is so out there with his humor, seldom do you get an opportunity to take him on on his own terms.”
The image of Stern exposing himself was “a natural” because of the title of his book, Private Parts.
Marlette said imagery in cartoons is equally if not more powerful than in written editorials and should foster discussion and examination of relevant issues.
“That’s where the artistry lies, in finding thought-provoking cartoon ideas that aren’t boring, that I can finish drawing without falling asleep and that will stimulate thought about the issues,” he said.
“That’s what I liked about the cartoon. It amused me and kept me awake through the drawing.”
Newsday later published another cartoon about Stern drawn by a free-lance cartoonist. In it, a car approaches the “Governor Howard Stern Thruway topless tollbooth.”
“I thought that was funny, so I ran it,” Klurfeld said.
Marlette is syndicated in more than 300 papers through Creators Syndicate, and one place the Stern cartoon was published, on Easter Sunday, was in the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Herald, a zoned edition of the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun.
“I haven’t heard one word about the Marlette cartoon,” said Mark Schultz, editor of the Herald.
“I thought twice about running it. In the back of my mind I thought, this is just about at the limits of what we might run, but the purpose of the page is to generate discussion, to get people talking and to have them respond to what you put there,” Schultz said.
Marlette said, “It’s ironic because the perception of New York is one of a sort of freewheeling and uninhibited place. People think of the backwaters of Georgia or North Carolina, but I’ve had more cartoons killed up here than I ever have in Charlotte or Atlanta.”
While standards of taste and propriety vary throughout the country, editors usually have the final say.
“I thought it was in poor taste and so I didn’t think it was appropriate for Newsday,” Klurfeld said. “That’s my job as editor of the editorial pages. There are times when things in bad taste are appropriate, but this one struck me as kind of locker-room humor.”
?( The controversial cartoon) [Photo and Caption]