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Almost all political cartoons are on the left. Why should this be?


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Henry Payne

EDITOR’S NOTE:
This article appears in the July 26, 2004, issue of National Review.

When editorial cartoonist Wayne Stayskal retired from the Tampa Tribune last December, he left as one of his profession’s most admired craftsmen. (He still draws for a syndicate.) For four decades, Stayskal’s distinctive, loose style and razor-sharp wit have thrilled his admirers, enraged his political targets, and explored the frontiers of political satire. In short, Stayskal embodies those qualities that make a great newspaper cartoonist: He draws both blood and laughs.

And yet Wayne Stayskal has never won the newspaper industry’s top honor: the Pulitzer Prize. For Stayskal made one crucial career mistake.
He is an unapologetic conservative.

As Stayskal’s experience shows, “diversity”–today’s media mantra–applies exclusively to race and gender. At a time when news organizations have aggressively diversified their newsrooms by hiring more minorities and women, they have also become much less politically diverse. This monolithically liberal press–and the intolerance it has bred–are affecting one of the most outspoken, dynamic art forms: the political cartoon.

In the last ten years, not a single conservative editorial cartoonist has won a Pulitzer. In fact, of 30 nominations for the prize during this time (three are sent to the Pulitzer board every year), only five have been of conservatives. And it’s not because the judges eschew strong opinions. In fact, the Pulitzer trend (echoed in other industry contests) has been to reward the most provocatively left-wing cartoonists in the business. In the last five years, Joel Pett, Ann Telnaes, Clay Bennett, David Horsey, and Matt Davies–Stayskal’s sharp-penned peers on the far left–have all won the award.

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