Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 27, 2007


Host: Ted Simons

Cartoonists Special 2007


  • Pulitzer Prize editorial cartoonist Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic and nationally syndicated East Valley cartoonist Brian Fairrington illustrate the yearís major events.
Guests:
  • Steve Benson - Cartoonist, The Arizona Republic


View Transcript

>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon. A wrap-up of some of the most significant political cartoons of 2007 -- by editorial cartoonists Steve Benson and Brian Fairrington. A look back, next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible through the contributions of the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to this special edition of Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Once again we sum up some of the year's most fascinating and titillating topics in the form of cartoons. The year's events will be seen through the original perceptions of Steve Benson of "The Arizona Republic," and nationally syndicated east valley cartoonist Brian Fairrington. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. I'm so excited by this show! I've been look forward to it for at least ten minutes!

>> Steve Benson:
I've been looking forward to -- my cartoons are in black and -- cartoons are in black and white because that's how the truth is. And his are color and digital.

Brian Fairrington:
This is the digital age. Welcome to the digital age. You need to use learn how to use a computer and color yourself.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's get started. And the top of everyone's mind, illegal immigrant illegal or otherwise. Let's get it going here. It looks like, Steve, you have some ideas.

>>Steve Benson:
This is the one thing I agree with bush on. Bush says, we need to provide jobs for these hard-working migrants from down south or wherever they come from. Why? Fat, lazy Americans won't take them. I'm with Bush on this. That's the only time I will be with him.

>>Brian Fairrington:
You know, I think bush is pandering to the community down there. I think that --

>>Steve Benson:
Pandering for the community. That's so hard for you to be polite.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Yeah. I think certainly our economy is based on a certain worker that will do a job that we won't. But I think they should be in this country legally. And there are steps they could do that. And to allow just some form of amnesty, I'm against that.

>>Steve Benson:
You kick the 20 million out and see who will mow my lawn.

>>Ted Simons:
He catapults them out, he doesn't kick them out. Let's get to politics now. This is interesting. I thought these cartoons were very interesting because they were done at a time when the campaign was of a certain nature. Things might have changed since then.

>>Steve Benson:
McCain has gotten a few endorsements, from "the des moines register", "the Boston Globe" and -- what's his name? Joe Lieberman. Yeah. I'm not bailing out, he says. He's hanging in there. And he's well-positioned to take it to the top.

>>Ted Simons:
When you think of it, he's still a frog though.

>>Brian Fairrington:
I think everyone went into it thinking he was going to do what he did in 2000, being the roaring prince to come and in and take it.

>>Brian Farrington:
He's wedded himself to the war.

>>Brian Fairrington:
I think associated with being bush's puppet and everything on the war and other things turned people off.

>>Steve Benson:
And immigration.

>>Brian Fairrington:
But I think things are going to change. We're so in the dark and what the final results are and it's so early. The campaign for two years. And I think the whole thing could change in the next couple of months. We still don't know.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. As far as the democratic side, we've got Obama; Hillary.

>>Steve Benson:
Let me tell you. Hillary's campaign is staff-driven by mean people. Barack comes out and says to his kindergarten teacher, "When I grow up I want to be president." they're both starting in kindergarten early. But I think Hillary has more of an edge.

>>Brian Fairrington:
I think definitely the Hillary campaign has had major missteps. One was the driver's license faux-pas at one of the last debates where she kind of stumbled and wasn't preprogrammed into her what to say and she flip-flopped. We saw it on TV. Hillary's still not out. I think she's still going to be a major player. But we'll see what Obama does. A lot of critics think he's a mile wide and an inch deep on experience.

>>Steve Benson:
That's you.

>>Ted Simons:
Speaking of candidates, let's go to the GOP Side. And all right, Steve.

>>Steve Benson:
I tell you. Now, in article VI of the constitution it says there shall be no religious test or oath applied to those running for public office. But apparently these guys are falling all over themselves, trying to out-Jesus each other. And I'm going, "Jesus Christ."

>>Brian Fairrington:
Tell that to Bob Jones of Bob Jones University that effectively the evangelicals have changed it from the party of Goldwater to the party of Oral Roberts. I think it's turned off a lot of moderate Republicans.

>>Ted Simons:
Is that not what George Bush basically was pushing?

>>Brian Fairrington:
George bush is not a real conservative. He's an alien from another planet that's ruined the Republican Party.

>>Steve Benson:
This is divide and conquer. You set up segments of support and play them off each other. Evangelicals are way off.

>>Brian Fairrington:
They have come down on Romney because of his strange beliefs. But if you're going to put organized religion under a microscope it's all nutty if you want stop look at it that way. Evangelicals should not cast stones when they live in a large glass house.

>>Steve Benson:
Reason why Romney is making a speech about faith in America and I'm a Mormon and devout is not because of his commitment necessarily but because he's losing points to Huckabee. So this is a tactical move. I think that said, however, it should be noted that Mitt Romney as a temple-endowed Mormon went behind closed doors and in a funny outfit promised he would give everything he had, time, talents, all his money to building up the Mormon kingdom on earth. He's not going to tell you that. If you want a guy who's president first and foremost thing to pay tithing in the Mormon Church.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Article VI says you shouldn't discriminate; you shouldn't do it the flip side. In 1950's they say don't vote for African American or Jewish persuasion or woman for that reason. Why are we putting a religious test to that? It shouldn't matter.

>>Steve Benson:
The government cannot apply a religious test. Individual voters when they go into the booth, think, these values --

>>Brian Fairrington:
You're not going to vote for somebody because Jewish or something else, the media would have a fit over that. But why are they giving Mormons --

>>Ted Simons:
Not veering too far, let's go to this Lawrence O'Donnell diatribe all over the youtube right now.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Steve Cowrote, by the way.

>>Ted Simons:
What he's saying is when as an adult Romney had a chance to go against certain tenets of the LDS. Faith he decided not to.

>>Steve Benson:
Let's use Mitt Romney's father, George Romney who ran for president against Richard Nixon. He was asked, what do you think about the position on black. In 1968, blacks couldn't be admitted to Mormon priesthood. George Romney says I distance myself. I don't agree with that. Why doesn't Mitt say things about sexism against women in the Mormon Church and why do they still have racist scriptures in the canonized doctrine? Why doesn't he come out about that?

>>Brian Fairrington:
Steve will give a closing prayer tonight.

>>Steve Benson:
You pray for me, I'll think for the both of us.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's go up to Colorado City and the whole area up there. You have, Steve, from big love, explain, please --

>>Steve Benson:
From big love, this is one, HBO's big love, the big popular -- wildly popular series on HBO. About polygamy in Utah to the big house. Warren Jeffs is now in the big house. Let me tell the viewers here: if you want to see what the Mormon Church believes with regard to its original doctrines see what the fundamentalists are doing. The Mormon Church is trying to shed off the lizard skin of it all.

>>Ted Simons:
Don't all religions do that? Don't they say, this is what we believed then and this is what we believe now?

>>Steve Benson:
And it takes cartoons to kick him in the butt and get him going down the mainstream of social progress.

>>Brian Fairrington:
There's been so much talk about polygamy and what an abomination to society it is. But my view is -- and Steve modeled for, that by the way.

>>Steve Benson:
I think family models are the one on the left.

>>Brian Fairrington:
He's the one on the far right here, by the way. But if you're going to allow one alternative lifestyle you have to allow all of them. You can't have one or the other. So if you're going to ban them all --

>>Steve Benson:
There's an argument for that. The trouble is, with the polygamy you have sexual child abuse. And that of course falls under--

>>Ted Simons:
Let's move on and leave the dude there with his chain and go on to a men's room in Minneapolis.

>>Steve Benson:
This was made in the shade for cartoonists. We got Larry Craig who's stalling for time; of course he was caught in the men's room. And he says, I was not born a homosexual. I've never been a homosexual. I'm not now a homosexual. Any guy that says that has some problem.

>>Brian Fairrington:
And the republican convention will be there.

>>Steve Benson:
And how appropriate that Larry Craig has flushed his political career down the toilet.

>>Ted Simons:
Was it interesting he's more adamant he's not gay than he was playing footsy in a men's room? Is that interesting?

>>Brian Fairrington:
Or picking up dirty toilet paper off the floor. Who does that?

>>Steve Benson:
He handed his card underneath the stall wall to the detective and said, what do you think about that?

>>Ted Simons:
Bad year, maybe? Bad start for Don Imus. Now it's getting better for him.

>>Brian Fairrington:
I'm a big fan of Don Imus.

>>Steve Benson:
Figures.

>>Brian Fairrington:
I was on his show. I love being on his show. He was ripping me for cartoons I had done. But I think again, this is a situation where, you know, he's in the practice of being a shock jock to some degree, you know? Although he's a political pundit kind of realm where people go on and realm. But you have Jesse Jackson and others who made a big deal about it. The women at Rutgers didn't know who Don Imus was.

>>Steve Benson:
But he knew who they were. And racially-poisoned name.

>>Brian Fairrington:
And it wouldn't have affected them one bit had they not taken the incident to the next level. The fact of the matter is MSNBC wasn't even going to fire him -- they were perfectly happy until they got pressure.

>>Ted Simons:
Did they not exacerbate the problem?

>>Steve Benson:
No. They said in today's culture we don't allow for these came of primitive, bigoted.

>>Brian Fairrington:
But the rap industry has made millions of dollars.

>>Steve Benson:
And I've done cartoons on the rap industry sexism. This reminds me of the days back in Birmingham when they were hosing down the African Americans to get them out of the street with the white supremacist attitude. If you want to feel comfortable there, be my guest.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. Speaking of feeling comfortable, does it look like the president of Iran? Is there a little Alfred E. Newman similarity there?

>>Brian Fairrington:
It was interesting him coming to Columbia to speak. I wouldn't have aloud him to speak.

>>Steve Benson:
Oh, really. So much for tolerance.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Yes. You know what he had in the back of his mind. He wanted to go there and see how well his decorators had done. That's effectively what they did. The guy is going to be on the radar for awhile.

>>Steve Benson:
Everyone is scared about Iran and radical fundamentalism. And I think there's reason to be concern. But is the God of radical jihaddists so insecure that naming a teddy bear after him is going to bring down the wrath of Allah? You got this British Teacher in the Sudan. Let's name the teddy bear. All the kids say Mohammed. They want to kill her. Not just whip her and imprison her but kill her first and then whip her and imprison her.

>>Ted Simons:
That was a really cute teddy bear, got to admit. Regardless of the name. All right. We now have the war.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Well, you know, the war is going to be bush's legacy. And I think that -- and unfortunately as we go on, you know, no one can figure out why we're still there or why we don't have a plan to get out. And, you know, I think it will be interesting to see how McCain and other people that have taken to bush on that issue how they handle it.

>>Steve Benson:
The legacy for Arizona is the unfortunate heroic sacrifice of specialist Tillman, Pat Tillman, whose last words by the way were to a crying soldier in the fox hole, "We're going to get out of this ourselves. I have a plan. Quit playing. You're wasting time." no wonder recruitment is down. Get shot by your own side and cover it up. The political manipulation of the family and his death for political, you know, opportunistic use is just horrifying.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Blackwater was another situation that came out of the war. Private security firm. And I realize some of these are necessary. But they're very lucrative. It's like Halliburton. They're making billions of dollars over there. Frankly, I'm conservative but I haven't agreed on most things that bush has done. One of the things that's confounded me is the fact that no one has made a bigger stink about Halliburton and their relationship there. Some of the security firms are very much like that. They've gone over there, making huge profits, not really regulated; don't have to follow army standards. Accidents like this happen.

>>Ted Simons:
Real quickly here, a previous cartoon you showed a coffin, Steve you have one with a coffin in it, dead body stand erring here. Are there rules in cartooning you got to be careful about showing corpses or coffins?

>>Brian Fairrington:
Got to make sure you have the flag right. Honestly, I've been criticized -- it has to go on a certain -- I think the first time I did it.

>>Steve Benson:
I think one of the greatest cartoons of one of my colleagues was "the caption" I'll be home for Christmas "and you show the casket coming off the cargo plane.

>>Ted Simons:
Powerful, but it gets a response.

>>Steve Benson:
I don't think there are hard and fast rules. We have editors.

>>Brian Fairrington
Total anarchy. We should do whatever we want.

>>Steve Benson:
Here's a good example. All this heat and very little light that was exerted over the moveon.org ad. General Petraeus. I wanted to take it to another level. You have general betray us. What's the bottom line on this? It's been cut off. General Petraeus and general betray us. Then final general, you slay us. And the fact of the matter is a lot of these generals wait until they get their pension, wait until they're retired, then they become a talking head for CNN with a suit and tie on like him and then start ragging on the war.

>>Brian Fairrington:
They won't get their fourth star if they criticize the commander-in-chief. That's a rule of the military.

>>Ted Simons:
That's right. What he just said. Shot against me and my tie.

>>Steve Benson:
Nice uniform, by the way.

>>Ted Simons:
Thank you very much. That sweater, I've seen that before somewhere. Brian, other stories here. What are you saying?

>>Brian Fairrington:
Yeah. Believe it or not. There are so many shootings this year. A lot of people like to blame handgun manufacturers and other gun manufacturers. Certainly they have some accountability. But who programs these kids to do that? And it's the entertainment industry that programs our children with these violent games, the garbage on television. You know, when I was a kid, "Dukes of Hazard" was about as violent as you got. Nowadays with programming you have to watch what you're doing.

>>Steve Benson:
I don't see kids killing each other by throwing televisions at each other. I see kids killing with guns. The reason why they kill each other is because guns are ubiquitous.

>> Brian Fairrington:
It shouldn't be looked at. But I think the entertainment industry does bear some responsibility in the way our culture and these kids the way they think and the way they act out.

>>Ted Simons:
You would think video images have to have some effect or there'd be no advertising.

>>Brian Fairrington:
When Steve was a young guy before television they had to throw eggs at people.

>>Steve Benson:
I don't remember anyone being killed by the over supply of eggs. We've got too many guns in this country. Speaking of entertainment, we have Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons whose idea of entertainment was having dogs maul each other.

>>Brian Fairrington:
This was a good cartoon, by the way.

>>Steve Benson:
So the beauty of this cartoon, if there is any, is that you can actually imagine what the dogs are thinking without actually having to draw it. This is where we get the readers involved and they can complete the picture for us.

>>Ted Simons:
Did you get much response from people saying, "Quit picking on Michael Vick. It's his choice. These are only dogs?"

>>Steve Benson:
No. That would have been over the top.

>>Ted Simons:
Here are some folks in certain parts of the country saying, leave the guy alone. This is his entertainment. Whatever.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Whoopi Goldberg.

>>Ted Simons:
Exactly right.

>>Steve Benson:
Dogs are people, too. We have certain laws. Don't let Joe Arpaio get hold of them.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay. Housing. Oh, my goodness, the housing slump. What happened with housing? What about that?

>>Brian Fairrington
It's all going over the cliff. And all these boneheads. And they are. I'll say it on television. These are boneheads who took out the mortgages, didn't read the fine print, now they're paying the consequences for it and want the government to bail them out. The only reason the government stepped in is for the banks. They're postponing the inevitable. They'll drag this on for five years until the economy is better and easier to foreclose.

>>Steve Benson:
I want the fine print to be read, too. But let's give you the fine print in big capital letters. How about George Bush coming into your house, saying you're overdue on your mortgage and tapping your phone? Where have your cartoons been on the violation of the FISA courts, fourth amendment, put into place against the unwarranted, warrant-less wiretapping of our nation's citizens by this guy who wants to be king? "I'm the decider. I'll decide what constitutional rights you have."

>>Ted Simons:
All right. There he is. He's an insider.

>>Brian Fairrington:
An economic guru, Alan Greenspan came out. Much like Steve where the general was criticized out of office. He did the same thing, criticized the bush administration after he got out of office on a very lucrative book bonus to sell books. But it's true. I think, you know, Bush has been so preoccupied with his neoconservative, evangelical way of thinking, running around naked at the white house reading pages of the bible or whatever he does that he's overlooked a lot of important things.

>>Steve Benson:
I don't think bush is preoccupied with anything. It's very hard to get his attention. What I am preoccupied with, as are many Americans, is the rising cost of gasoline. What, 100 bucks a barrel or something? And so even Santa Claus is having a hard time.

>>Brian Fairrington:
That's why he sold his SUV and he rides a small scooter.

>>Steve Benson:
I ride a motorcycle to and from. Also we have an alternative to fossil fuels, corn-based ethanol. Problem is it takes 700 pounds of corn to produce one gallon of ethanol. What about all the poor people?

>>Brian Fairrington
Electric cars are the only way to go.

>>Ted Simons:
This cartoon probably didn't play all that well in Iowa, as a matter of fact.

>>Steve Benson:
I got a note from Iowa on the ethanol business.

>>Ted Simons:
The next wing literally made me laugh. I just looked at Al Gore.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Rescuer of the world, Carbonman, Al Gore. And al gore, he was knighted again this year with a Nobel Prize for his efforts. You know, I mean, what's interesting -- I think the democrats wanted him to come save the party as well. I don't think he's going to do that. I think he's perfectly happy in his role as savior of the world and he has no interest in being president anymore.

>>Steve Benson:
He's not savior of the world.

>>Brian Fairrington:
My world.

>>Steve Benson:
I'll come over and cut your grass using an electric-powered weed eater. But Gore actually is going with the mainstream scientists. The vast majority of scientists around this world is deviling deeper and -- delving deeper and deeper in pollution and greenhouse gasses have concluded that global warm something a reality.

>>Brian Fairrington:
However, gore can be the champion against global warming and be Carbonman but he doesn't have a problem flying in his private jet to accept the Oscar award. If he could walk he would carry a green cross and walk across the country and he would live in.

>>Ted Simons:
Does it hurt you as a cartoonist to know that al gore is starting to lose weight again?

>>Brian Fairrington:
He'll always be fat.

>>Ted Simons:
In the cartoon world he'll always be that way, won't he? Let's keep it moving here. We have a critique on cable news.

>>Brian Fairrington:
You know, we had a lot of celebrities die this year. My opinion was, so what? Anna Nicole died, that's great. She left a little baby without a mom. That's too bad. But do we have to have it 24 hours a day for a week? I think cable news, unfortunately in this media-driven, 24-hour cable monster we have to feed, we have to feed stuff like that.

>>Ted Simons:
But again, isn't it your choice as a viewer? I'm tired of watching this. I'm tuning it out.

>>Brian Fairrington:
It is to some degree. But then all the stations get onboard. And it becomes -- I mean, the woman this year, the anchor, I can't think of her name. Her father was the now security advisor for carter. Now on MSNBC. She walked off the set this year because she refused to read anymore about Anna Nicole, and I said that's good.

>>Steve Benson:
Ted's about to walk off if we don't finish. We have, of course, Tammy Faye Bakker also died.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Who didn't get nearly the publicity that Anna Nicole did.

>>Steve Benson:
Tammy Faye was asked, what are you going to be remembered for? She said her makeup. I do these obituary cartoons.

>>Ted Simons:
We still have a couple of minutes to go. I want to hear what you're looking forward to for next year. What -- I mean, look on the horizon as a cartoonist.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Steve isn't taking his medication. He talks too fast.

>>Ted Simons:
Shows up an hour late and finishes the show too quickly.

>>Steve Benson:
Nice hair there, Ted.

>>Ted Simons:
Thank you.

>>Steve Benson:
It will be interesting to see how this war plays out. For all of the intense opposition to the war, the democrats are expressing -- I'm with them 100\% -- let's face it, folks. We have five major military bases being built in Iran. And the largest American embassy on the planet is in Baghdad. We ain't going anywhere. We're going to be there for decades. It would be nice if we got out of there. But the only way we're getting out of there is if the people get tired enough of Americans dying. And if the level of dying goes down, there'll be long-term north-south Korea DMZ

>>Brian Fairrington:
I think it's a problem we haven't had the outrage like we have in Vietnam is because the younger generation is so detached from the war. It's abstract.

>>Ted Simons:
That's a point. There's no draft.

>>Brian Fairrington:
The closest that Generation X ever came to a war was 100-days in 1991 and that was a video game.

>>Steve Benson:
They should institute a draft so we can end the war?

>>Ted Simons:
Military people say, don't do it. I don't want somebody joining my division who doesn't want to be here.

>>Steve Benson:
Exactly. But I think that people have a moral obligation and a civic responsibility to participate in the defense of this country.

>>Brian Fairrington
Be on the frontlines?

>>Steve Benson:
I tried to join the National Guard at age 38 and they wouldn't let me so I became a cop, okay?

>>Brian Fairrington:
Flatfoot, is that right?

>>Steve Benson:
And you're flat-headed.

>>Ted Simons:
Last question before we go there -- don't you ever do that to my hair, by the way. As far as all the presidential candidates, which one do you want to keep drawing for the next four years just because it's fun to draw?

>>Steve Benson:
The one that gets elected is -- don't have any preferences. You can make them all dopey.

>>Brian Fairrington:
Kucinich would be great for us to draw. But he hasn't a prayer in hell.

>>Steve Benson:
The worst would be Mitt Romney. Evenly though I disagree with him vehemently he's good-looking and that makes it harder to draw. That's why I draw Fairrington. You want someone who has prominent features. Hillary Clinton is hard to draw.

>>Ted Simons:
So basically whoever wins it's open season.

>>Steve Benson:
Oh, we'll love it. What would we do without material?

>>Brian Fairrington
Talk about it.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's hope so, gentlemen. Thank you very much. That's it tonight for Horizon. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.

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