When I first started drawing political cartoons around the turn of the millennium, it seemed like informed people were more overtly appalled by FOX News and the abdication of journalistic standards it represented. Sure, progressives still snark about FOX on Twitter, but in some ways, it has become normalized, just one “side” in a world where every fact, no matter how empirically-derived, must be viewed through the lens of “both sides.”
Enter Sinclair Broadcasting’s proposed takeover of a huge segment of the local TV news market. Trump campaign spokesgoon Boris Epshteyn has hopped straight from the White House to the role of “Chief Political Analyst” for Sinclair news affiliates. And he’s penning op-ed columns too. Here’s one on the website for the local ABC station in Washington, DC in support of Trump’s policy of militarizing the police.
I highly recommend John Oliver’s segment on Sinclair for a more in-depth look at this catastrophe in the making.
For background commentary, I’d suggest revisiting this cartoon and blog post.
I do think free speech is imperiled these days — by bullies, online harassers, those who practice intimidation to silence others (and call it speech), by authoritarian governments such as Turkey’s, Russia’s, and increasingly our own. See also this article about press freedoms threatened around the globe.
I went to UVA and lived in Charlottesville for sixteen years, so the weekend’s tragic events hit particularly close to home for me. At least two of my friends from college came close to being killed. The New Yorker interviewed one of them.
These atrocities were squarely the fault of white supremacists who came to Charlottesville looking to intimidate the community and pick a fight. While Trump has been rightly condemned over his “many sides” comments, it’s also important to remember his violent rhetoric against protesters at his rallies. You can find a rundown of some of the chilling remarks he made during his campaign here.
Today we learned that Fox News and The Daily Caller deleted posts celebrating video footage of liberal protesters getting plowed through by cars, a reminder that Fox is not a “news” network any more than Infowars provides “info.”
Last week, as was widely reported, White House adviser Stephen Miller rather oddly accused CNN reporter Jim Acosta of “cosmopolitan bias.” As this Politico article notes, using the term “cosmopolitan” as an insult has historical precedent in nationalist (and largely anti-Semitic) movements. I wasn’t able to get into that level of detail with this cartoon, but this way of dividing the nation has chilling implications.
I take extra annoyance at such rhetoric, since I grew up in a rural area that is now Trump country. The road in front of my house was routinely dotted with horse manure from Amish buggies. Meanwhile, Stephen Miller grew up the son of a real estate developer in Santa Monica, bought a $450,000 condo in DC at age 23, and now lives in a million-dollar flat in the Gucci district. What we should be flinging right back at the GOP is the phrase “aristocratic bias.” Because that’s what they’re really about.
As someone who has been drawing cartoons about the Democrats’ tendencies towards wimpiness and capitulation for around 17 years now, I actually think they’ve improved somewhat since the days of the DLC and the Iraq War. So I find some current criticisms to be overblown. Schumer’s “A Better Deal” rollout, however, was about as inspiring as pile of pudding. Perhaps less so, as I happen to like cold, creamy desserts. People want passion and conviction from their leaders, not bloodless boilerplate blather, even if some of the ideas aren’t bad.