Pulitzer Winner: How To Speak Tea Bag

Amongst this year’s honorees for Pulitzer Awards is Mark Fiore, the editorial cartoonist for the SFGate web site. He gained some heightened exposure last year with a piece called “How to Speak Tea Bag”:

Interestingly, this cartoon did not make a big splash at first. It wasn’t until it was posted on the web site of National Public Radio that it became a sensation. And even then it was two months after the posting until some conservatives discovered it and turned it into a cause terrible. The right-wing cacophony of criticism echoed across the blogosphere and on up to Fox News where Bill O’Reilly called NPR a “left wing jihadist deal.” The familiar (and delusional) cry of “liberal media” wafted through the wingnut press.

Sadly, even NPR took the complaints to heart as they bent over backwards to mollify the hurt feelings of the right. NPR ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, wrote in response:

“Fiore is talented, but this cartoon is just a mean-spirited attack on people who think differently than he does and doesn’t broaden the debate.” […and…]

“Some good came from the feedback deluge. NPR’s top editors responded quickly. The word “opinion” was greatly enlarged above Fiore’s cartoon to make it clear it was not a news report.”

I wonder what Shepard’s view would be today, now that the artist has been given a Pulitzer for his work that she said was “not actually funny.” But what IS actually funny is that this cartoon, which mocks the shallow, knee-jerk, substancelessness of the Tea Bag movement, required that the opinion label be enlarged so that the Tea Baggers wouldn’t mistake an animated satirical piece for an actual news report. Isn’t that more insulting than anything in the cartoon itself?

Congratulations are in order for Fiore. He was subjected to some heavy criticism, including death threats, from the Tea Bag contingent. So this tribute was earned the hard way, and is well deserved.