Thursday, September 20, 2007

Editorial cartoons -- a historical perspective

When I field complaints about the editorial page at the Telegraph Herald, it is rarely about the words. Most complaints concern the editorial cartoons. Folks object to the cartoonists' opinions, or portrayals or a lack of objectivity. (Not that editorial cartoons are supposed to be objective ...)

Complaints increase during presidential campaign cycles (which seem to be perpetual anymore).

Anyway, not long ago I came across this quotation:

“Newspaper cartoons that ridicule and vilify rival presidential candidates have been seriously criticized in the present campaign, but they are nothing new in American politics.”

Those words were spoken not during this campaign. Not the previous campaign. Not even this century.

I found the quotation in an old Chicago Daily News. It came from L.H. Stattuck, director of the Chicago Historical Society. The year was 1936.

Thus, pointed cartoons were considered "nothing new" 71 years ago.

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