I suppose everyone is talking about the Mueller Report now, but I don’t really have much to say until we learn what’s actually in the report. We know from public records that the Trump campaign had all sorts of dealings with Russia that any reasonable person would interpret as coordination; we do not know why Mueller was unable to bring charges. Anyone making sweeping conclusions based on the wording of the Barr letter is engaging in uninformed spin and premature bloviation. Unfortunately, this seems to be most of the media.
Speaking of which, a far more important issue we face is the crisis in journalism. I’ve had the idea for a while now that if Fox News were an individual reporter, he or she would have been denounced as an unethical fraud and exiled from the profession. But when this same lack of ethics applies to an entire network, many media insiders can’t bring themselves to apply the same standards. Anyone remember Jayson Blair, the fabulist reporter who caused a major scandal for the New York Times? You might say Fox is like that, but with a plutocratic agenda.
Fox covers for itself by sprinkling in very small amounts of real reporting alongside wackadoo disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories, and hate speech. This leads other media professionals to erroneously defend the network in the name of “press freedom.” It creates an opening for holier-than-thou pundits to call the Dems “closed-minded” for not having a debate on the channel, when a more apt comparison would be having a debate on InfoWars. Well-meaning progressive groups play into this strategy when they celebrate the occasional Fox anchor who criticizes Trump or says something sane. Recently, former Democratic strategist Donna Brazile made the decision to join Fox as a contributor, further lending them the veneer of legitimacy. (I was going to include her at the end of the cartoon, but decided it made things too complicated.)
I’m declaring it a rule that every cartoonist gets to do one cartoon with made-up Latin names every five years. They are too much fun.
This cartoon is, of course, inspired by recent events surrounding Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said a couple critical things about U.S.-Israel foreign policy using language that mildly, and possibly inadvertently, evokes anti-Semitic tropes. In a spectacular display of hypocrisy, the GOP has seized on Omar after remaining silent about, and often encouraging, the very real rise of anti-Semitism within their own ranks, most notoriously among the alt-right. (You will recall they literally chanted “Jews will not replace us” at the hate rally in Charlottesville.) So the grandstanding from the likes of Liz Cheney and Jeanine Pirro, who in a stunning display of Islamophobia linked Omar’s hijab to Sharia law, which she declared antithetical to the US Constitution, should not be taken seriously by anyone. These are bad-faith political opportunists, and the media should treat them as such.
I read a depressing Dave Eggers article in the Guardian over the weekend about the recent Trump rally in El Paso, where multiple people are quoted as liking Trump because he’s “strong.” This would be the ultimate triumph of form over content, of personality cult over policy, of perceived “masculinity” over “feminine weakness,” of unhinged belligerent bluster over anything real. So, with this in mind, I tried placing progressive policy ideas in the voice of someone hypermasculine and dumb. Some may think this is similar to the Liberal Redneck, who I’m a fan of, but the Liberal Redneck spouts wisdom in a lovely southern drawl. The character in my cartoon is intended to be more like George W. Bush or Trump, someone who simply acts dumb (or is dumb) to advance a political agenda.