Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and unsubstantiated claims have inspired one group of journalists — editorial cartoonists.
Since the president’s inauguration, his exaggerations and running battles with reporters have provided regular fodder for the artists who help drive the country’s political discourse through daily illustrations on the nation’s opinion pages.
Four of them — Jim Morin of the Miami Herald, Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee, Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky and Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina — contributed drawings specifically for Sunshine Week. The celebration of press freedom and the fight for government transparency falls each year around the birthday of James Madison, who was instrumental in passing the Bill of Rights.
Ohman, a Pulitzer Prize winner, said the actions of the Trump administration remind him of Richard Nixon’s presidency, an era that sparked his interest in politics and cartooning.
“Fast forward to 2017 and we have a new type of Nixon presidency, where they’re not transparent and they’re lying a lot of the time and you don’t know what to believe,” Ohman said. “In a way, my career, in terms of commentary, has come back full circle.”
He said Sunshine Week is a reminder that journalists must continue fighting for free-speech protections and government transparency.
One of his cartoons for this week plays off Trump’s recent comment calling the media “the enemy of the people.” Its panels show journalists engaged in their routine work — covering city council meetings, reporting on environmental disasters, writing about high school sports.
“So when we have the atmosphere of people saying negative things about you and calling into question your very existence, calling into question the First Amendment, calling into question freedom of expression, that has a chilling effect,” he said. “I think what it’s made me want to do is hit even harder than I probably normally would because I think it’s so important to be able to express myself.”