Cartoon fracas part II

News & Politics

A lively debate followed Lindsay's posting in yesterday's PEEK of the Joint Chiefs' response to a WaPo cartoon [HERE].

Some of you believed the word censor to have been used inappropriately. Fine, that's a point for debate and I do hope it'll continue. But if i may add my $.02 before getting to the artist's and the paper's responses.

First, the letter is part of an ongoing and conscious propaganda campaign. I do not believe for one second that the Joint Chiefs of Staff didn't get the cartoon. That is, that they actually believed this thing to be a mockery of our forces. You'd have to be exceptionally daft to believe that and whatever you think of the moral centers of the top brass they're no dummies.

Second, in a democratic-republic whose constitution singles out exactly one line of work in its constitution (the press), those in power have to be super-double-cautious about exerting it over the press. This letter doesn't appear to be a call for censorship, but whenever 24 stars appear on a letter to the press there's always an element of the mafia boss who tells a witness "I'd be very careful about what I say, I wouldn't want anything to happen to you."

From Garrett Graff:

In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Toles called the letter "an understandable response" but said he did not regret what he drew. "In thinking about Rumsfeld's remarks, he said, 'what came soon to mind was the catastrophic level of injuries the Army and members of the armed services have sustained . . . I thought my portrayal of it was a fair depiction of the reality of the situation. I certainly never intended it to be in any way a personal attack on, or a derogatory comment on, the service or sacrifice of American soldiers.'
Toles tells Kurtz, "I think it's a little bit unfair in their reading of the cartoon to imply that is what it's about."
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