Cagle Laments Ideological Stereotyping of Cartoonists

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By: E&P Staff

Daryl Cagle wrote an interesting blog post Thursday about the ideological labeling of editorial cartoonists.

Cagle’s blog covers editorial cartooning. He also runs an editorial-cartoon Web site and the Cagle Cartoons syndicate while working as an editorial cartoonist.

Here are excerpts from Cagle’s posting: “Unlike TV pundits, most editorial cartoonists don’t conform closely to [liberal] list A and [conservative] list B. Liberal readers bash me for being conservative when I draw cartoons supportive of the troops in Iraq, while editors call me liberal when I bash President Bush for busting the budget. …

“I run a syndicate that distributes the work of about 50 editorial cartoonists to newspapers across the country. … The largest, most visible, urban papers tend to be liberal leaning … but the vast majority of newspapers are small suburban or rural, conservative papers. The conservative editors from these papers complain to us all the time that they want more conservative cartoonists. … Most editors quickly classify cartoonists as liberal and undesirable after glancing at a few cartoons, and the editors don’t bother even looking at further cartoons from liberal cartoonists.

“We thought we would try a little experiment. We started labeling our cartoons ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative.’ The first thing we noticed was that 80% of the cartoons could not be labeled, such as cartoons about Katie Couric, Barry Bonds, March Madness, and the death of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. There was no discerning liberal from conservative cartoons when Anna Nicole Smith went to the Supreme Court, when high oil-company profits were disclosed, when Muslims around the world were rioting about Danish Muhammad cartoons, when Hamas won the Palestinian election, when North Korea and Iran bluster about nuclear weapons, when a new study tells Americans that they are too fat, and when we all suffer preparing our income taxes. The recent immigration debate defies classification. … Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham had no conservative defenders. What is most noteworthy about our survey is that cartoonists agree about most issues in the news.

“The most common complaints we get are that too many cartoons criticize the president even when those cartoons are conservative, such as bashing the president for overspending, or when the cartoons are bipartisan, bashing the president for FEMA’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina. The other big complaint is that there are too many cartoons about Iraq — in fact there are fewer cartoons about Iraq now that the story is old. …

“It is our role as cartoonists to bash the people in power; we may be perceived as liberal just because the president and Congress are run by Republicans now. During the orgy of Clinton-Lewinsky cartoons, cartoonists could have been called conservatives — but we weren’t….”

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