Personally, I’ve never seen a Telnaes cartoon I liked


Last night, Bryan Caskey brought the above cartoon to my attention. Apparently, it was presented in a context that indicated that the monkeys represented Ted Cruz’ young daughters.

My only reaction was this:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Ann Telnaes cartoon that I liked. Don’t like her style, and I can’t recall when she’s ever had a good idea. I never used her in the paper…

In other words, I think the cartoon stinks. But then, that’s my standard reaction to her work. With actually good cartoonists losing their jobs to cost-cutting in recent years, it rather surprises me that she has kept hers.

Today, it seems, that cartoon is a huge deal in social media. And Telnaes’ editor has withdrawn it from the Post‘s website, with this explanation:

Editor’s note from Fred Hiatt: It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.

So, it seems that even an editor who does normally run her cartoons won’t run this one.

Cruz has used this as a way of damning all journalists, because, you know, we’re all responsible. Just one, big, colonial animal. It plays well with his base.

But hey, a guy gets to rant a bit when defending his kids…

30 thoughts on “Personally, I’ve never seen a Telnaes cartoon I liked

  1. Karen Pearson

    I don’t even understand it I have little use for Cruz’ policies, but I don’t see what his children have to do with it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t blame you for not understanding it. It had to have accompanying text to be understood, which is about as damning a thing one can say about an editorial cartoon.

      That’s not always the case with her cartoons, but you can safely predict that most of them will be trite, unimaginative, poorly drawn, and anything but amusing. And depend on it: She will not use a rapier where a bludgeon will do.

      1. Barry

        Btw Brad

        Is it a requirement or a mental defect that causes journalists that win the Pulitzer to lead off their Twitter handles or public appearances by reminding everyone that they won an award?

        I understand it’s the big award, but constant, self promoting reminders? It’s not like they aren’t handing those things out like candy to almost every liberal at the New York Times and Washington Post.

        Telnaes has it on her Twitter bio. It’s mentioned EVERY SINGLE TIME Eugene Robinson appears on MSNBC to carry the water for the Obama administration- and he’s on there every day on multiple shows saying whatever the administration told him to say.

        Or is it that journalists are just that arrogant that they have to constantly remind everyone of the awards they have won? ( BTw- Charles Krauthammer never mentions his, it’s never mentioned on Fox News, and he makes no mention of it on his Twitter profile. But of course he doesn’t come across consumed with himself as many do)

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Pulitzers are not “handed out like candy” to anybody. I certainly never got one. The closest I ever came was as a member of a newsroom that just missed one by the skin of our death — we were robbed!

          Robert Ariail, who has won every other national and international award there is for cartooning, has never won one — although he’s been a finalist (top three) officially twice, and unofficially once (it’s complicated).

          It’s a scandal that Robert hasn’t won; he’s certainly one of the best in the country. There are cartoonists out there with Pulitzers who aren’t half as good as he is.

          I chalk that up, to some extent, to the fact that editors make the choices — and a lot of word people just don’t get cartoons. One of the reasons Robert and I had such a great working relationship was that he said I was one of the few who DID. I know I enjoyed the process of working with him to come up with ideas…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Of course, if you want to apply your ideological test, Robert is more conservative than most cartoonists.

            But I still think a big part of it is that, regardless of ideology, a lot of editors have lousy taste when it comes to cartoons…

          2. Barry

            They are handed out like candy to people at the Post and Times.

            of course liberals usually win them. Jonathan Capehart and Cynthia Tucker (AJC) have won them for goodness sakes. Talk about scraping the bottom of the profession…..

            and once again- as I mentioned- it’s amusing to see them self promotion that many of these “journalists” engage in to let everyone know they won an award.

            Brett Stephens is the last conservative (and he’s not really all that conservative) to win one for commentary (and when he won in 2013 he was the first conservative in a decade to win).

            “Most Americans — and even the “journalists” who seek these prizes — have long-since realized that the prizes are awarded from a far-left Pulitzer committee to far-left “journalists” and writers. No one else need apply. As such, their luster, independence, and stature are a thing of the past.

            As this yearly farce plays out, the Columbia Journalism School needs to either stop awarding the biased prizes altogether, or just honestly call them what they’ve become: The Pulitzer Prizes for Liberal Journalism and Writing. ”
            – Doug MacKinnon at Town

  2. Harry Harris

    Cruz had a somewhat entertaining ad featuring his daughters as players. The cartoon is just off-base. It’s his policies and penchant for misleading rhetoric that suck, not a simple tongue-in-cheek ad.

  3. Doug Ross

    “It rather surprises me that she has kept hers”

    There’s a word in there that might explain it considering the demographics of the editorial cartoonist profession

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Certainly. And that helps explain why some people run her. As though the gender of the artist affects the quality of the cartoon.

      The Washington Post has one great cartoonist, Tom Toles, and one awful one. Her gender has nothing to do with how bad she is.

      It would be great to see more female cartoonists, if only because editors who run Ms. Telnaes purely because she is a woman would run theirs instead. Because they would almost HAVE TO be better…

      1. Doug Ross

        I grew up with the political cartoons of Paul Szep of the Boston Globe. He was excellent and had a cool trick of hiding his name in every cartoon.

      2. Dave Crockett

        My friend, Kate Salley Palmer, still does some editorial cartooning but her more recent claim to fame is writing/illustrating books for young readers (primarily).

      3. Assistant

        I grew up with Bill Mauldin in the Chicago Sun Times. Somewhere around Cakora Manor I’ve got a book of his Willie and Joe cartoons.

  4. bud

    The Cruz ad featured his daughters slamming Hillary. Seems like Cruz should refrain from using his children in ads except for some generic “see what a beautiful family I have. Still, the cartoon was inappropriate.

  5. bud

    Part of the Cruz ad actually had one of his daughters mocking Hillary as “The Grinch who Used her Own File Server”. Is it really ok for a presidential candidate to use his daughter to equate a rival candidate with the Grinch? Then again, in the end the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes. I doubt Mr. Cruz will have such a transformation.

  6. Karen Pearson

    I finally saw the commercial (I usually read during political commercials). While the commercial tended to commercialize his daughters, the political cartoon is unacceptable. It’s not the kids’ fault that their father used them in an inappropriate way.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    The editor failed to look at the cartoon? I’m no expert on being an EPE, but isn’t his main job to know what’s going to be put on the editorial page?

    How long would it take to take a quick glance at a silly little doodle someone draws?

    Channelling “The Bobs“, what exactly would you say that is you DO here, Mr. Editor?

  8. Bryan Caskey

    I brought it to Brad’s attention last night mainly to get his take as a former EPE on political cartoons and policies (if any) with respect to how children of politicians are treated.

    Seems to me, the policy of leaving children out of the mix is to protect the children, not the politician. Young children are routinely used as props in a campaign to humanize and soften a candidate. It’s kind of routine. But the children don’t have agency, here in the sense that they don’t get a say in whether or not they will be in the ad.

    What frustrates me about the whole thing is that it sharply highlights a double standard. But it’s not like that was breaking news to me.

  9. Harry Harris

    Another tone-deaf media figure gives candidates and their minions an excuse to talk about something other than their policies – and in this case troll for sympathy. Our presidential campaign atmosphere is so dumbed-down already that I can hardly find an adult in the room. Horserace, horserace, personal foibles, poll positions, misstatements, crowd size, what somebody said about somebody. That’s about all our pitiful press/media covers. The serious policy discussion is buried on page 9, and never seen in on the screen, even in the so-called debates (except when the Democrats tell the questioners to chill).

  10. Juan Caruso

    “Cruz has used this as a way of damning all journalists, because, you know, we’re all responsible. Just one, big, colonial animal. It plays well with his base.” – Brad W.

    Yet, how many of “all journalists” were profoundly silent after Dan Rather’s unprofessionally repetitive attempt to politically “assassinate” (assassin being a term of Islamic origin) G.W. Bush because it played well with his “progresssive” base? Answer: All too many.
    Journalism as practiced today is a phantom “profession” with biased editors and one-sided facts and half-truths. Remember, I despise Democratich and Republichan parties with equivalent animus, but not true statesmen/women.

    Is it a coincidence that journalists invoke their own stereotyping defense like “peaceful Muslims” who stand quietly by after the atrocities by their violent cousins? Neither are they stand-up citizens nor do they demand written clarifications of updated standards for opposing opinions or the Quran’s “metaphorical” verse, respectively. Hypocrisy is often the inevitable result.

    Killing non-believers in the name of Islam is still genocide. Peaceful Muslims are either unwilling to update their Quran to agree with the “peaceful religion” they profess, or they may be content to let their brethren do most of their dirty work.

    1. Barry

      “Journalists” typically defend journalists. Nothing new there.

      Glad Brad doesn’t fall into that camp.

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