Toles on Today’s Cartoon: Reaction to All He’d ‘Seen and Not Seen’

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By: Dave Astor

Was today’s Tom Toles cartoon about the Downing Street memo at least partly aimed at Toles’ own newspaper — The Washington Post?

“I’d say it’s my reaction to all that I had seen and not seen,” replied Toles, without getting more specific — meaning he could have been referring to how various media outlets covered the memo. He added that the Post allows his cartoons to differ from the newspaper’s editorial stance.

Toles estimated that his cartoons, in fact, differ from the Post editorial stance about 25% of the time. “When the Post hired me in 2002, it was made clear to me that they were looking for an independent voice,” he told E&P. “The fact that they ran today’s cartoon is evidence of that.”

Today’s cartoon shows a newspaper correction noting that the Downing Street memo “seems to be at odds with pretty much everything you remember seeing and hearing in the media in the runup to the Iraq war.” The correction concludes: “Your memory is in error. We regret your mistake.”

Next to the little sketch of Toles in the lower right corner of the cartoon is the comment: “The first draft of the rewrite of history.”

Some critics charge that the Post has tried to devalue the importance of the Downing Street memo, which proved to many people that the Bush administration was determined to invade Iraq no matter what.

Referring to the roughly 75% of the instances where Toles and the Post agree, the cartoonist said: “Most of the time, we’re in the same solar system.”

Toles — whose Post work is distributed to about 200 newspapers via Universal Press Syndicate — said he knows of no out-of-the-ordinary client reaction to today’s cartoon.

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