Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pioneer Press Needs Some New Cartoonists

A letter to the editor in Tuesday's Pioneer Press said something I've been thinking:

Political cartoonists

Down through the years, I have often found myself defending the Pioneer Press, not wanting it to be accused of being a partisan mouthpiece for any particular faction of our community. It hasn't always been easy, and I suppose that has to do with the particular editorial board that happens to be in charge. There will always be those voices that will cry "too liberal" or "too conservative," and at any given time in the newspaper's history they may be right. Now it is my turn to
be the critic.

Overall, I am in agreement with my friends who claim the editorial page leans to the right, and for the most part I can handle that. I appreciate hearing both sides of issues, as long as the writer maintains a reasonable and respectful viewpoint. You would expect that from professional pundits. There is no place or need for slanderous name calling or insulting characterizations, much less blatant lies. The moment a writer employs those tactics they lose all credibility.

My criticism at this time lies in the paper's choice of political cartoonists. In particular, I am thinking of Michael Ramirez and Lisa Benson, both of whom seem to be hell-bent on doing their best to insult and denigrate President Obama personally. Whatever their political concerns may be, their anti-Obama crusades overshadow their cause. I noticed this trend during the past presidential campaign. The Pioneer Press consistently enlisted Ramirez to slander and insult Obama, and not once do I remember a negative depiction of Romney. The trend continues today.

Surely there are cartoonists available with less prejudiced perspectives. It would be fun to turn to the editorial section and find an artist that everyone could understand and appreciate, even if they disagree. The Pioneer Press needs to broaden its political cartoon contributors if it expects to stay in touch with its loyal readers.

Jim M. McGowan, St. Paul
McGowan is right about the works of Ramirez and Benson. They have absolutely no nuance, and in combination with the PiPress's conservative editorials and almost completely lock-step right-wing op-ed selections, they make for a tedious page or two of the paper.

Here are a couple of samples of their work -- not necessarily ones that ran in the PiPress.

Benson presented the Republican party line on Acorn, back in 2008:

I don't remember her having any problems with the Republican voter suppression and election-rigging attempts of the past year, however.

Ramirez portrayed Obama as a gay prostitute in 2012:

Back when the Pioneer Press last employed its own political cartoonist, Kirk Anderson, things were quite different. I'm not sure how they came to hire Kirk, since the editorial page has always had a conservative slant, but perhaps it was a measure of their commitment back then to even-handedness.

Clearly, they no longer feel any need for such an old-fashioned idea.

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