I no longer listen to NPR and I certainly don’t read its website. So I missed the idiotic animated political cartoon, “Learn To Speak Teabag,” which apparently ran on NPR’s website for two months. The cartoon portrays a stammering representative of the Tea Party movement as having no arguments to make about Obamacare other than to repeatedly label it “Socialism” and to accuse its supporters of being Nazis.
The cartoonist, Mark Fiore, obviously is doing what he accuses Tea Party movement members of –substituting name-calling for argumentation. Fiore is calling members of the movement ignoramuses. As Tim Graham puts it, “Conservatism is ‘satirized’ into a form of political retardation.”
It’s doubtful whether Fiore has ever talked to any of member of the Tea Party movement. I have and can assure him that these folks do not lack substantive arguments against Obamacare. Fiore obviously doesn’t agree with these arguments, nor would one expect an NPR commentator to. But it is disgraceful for him to pretend that the other side lacks real arguments.
NPR cannot defend the cartoon. Once called on it, the NRP ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, said it is “mean-spirited” and claimed that “it doesn’t fit with NPR values, one of which is a belief in civility and civil discourse.” If that is in fact one of NPR’s values, this an understatement.
But Fiore didn’t crash the NPR website; he was hand-picked, Shepard tells us, by Dick Meyer. Meyer himself used to write thoughtful commentary for CBS. It’s difficult to understand what he saw in Fiore. But Meyer is no fool, so my assumption is that he knew what he was getting in Fiore, and wanted it.
It comes as no surprise to learn that NPR does not employ a conservative cartoonist. Meyer says the criticism that “we don’t have a conservative cartoon is certainly legitimate and reasonable.” He claims that NPR has been looking for a conservative cartoonist. But if NPR were serious about this effort, wouldn’t it have found one by now? I supsect that any search for a conservative cartoonist has taken a back-seat to the quest “to make sure there are an equal number of female and male voices as well as minority perspectives,” to quote the person in charge of NPR’s site.
But the real issue with Fiore isn’t liberal vs. conservative, but rather intelligence vs. idiocy. I’d be offened if a conservative cartoonist created an anti-liberal piece as demeaning and mindless as “Learn To Speak Tea Bag.” And I’m willing to bet that if a conservative cartoonist created such a piece, it would never see the light of day on NPR.
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