Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Benson and cartoonist Brian Fairrington, a nationally-syndicated cartoonist whose work sometimes appears in the East Valley Tribune, will recap the year’s news through their cartoons.
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," cartoonist Steve Benson and Brian Farrington recap the year through their provocative and occasionally twisted cartoons. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."
Narrator: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Once a year, we look back at the year's big news events through the eyes of two political cartoonists who tend to see things in a slightly skewed manner. Joining me tonight are Steve Benson, of the Arizona Republic, and Brian Farrington, whose cartoons can be seen in the east valley tribune. Good to see you both again here, and once again we are back to share cartoons. I ask you this every year and I will ask it again, was it a good year for cartoonists?
Steve Benson: It is always a good year. It is always a good year when you have like a rolling disaster in terms of the national scene, so yeah.
Ted Simons: A good year for you?
Brian Fairrington: Busy year. Every year when we go back and look at the cartoons, you forget what happened, and that so much happened, so, a busy year, like Steve said, and a lot of big issues, and so, a lot of topics to cover.
Ted Simons: Let's get to some of those and we'll start with something that's topical. The CPS case, the controversy, goodness, gracious, and will it ever end?
Steve Benson: Talk about a rolling disaster, and I mean, you have got these , cases where, you know, the caseworkers are overloaded and, and Mr. Carter doesn't know what the heck is going on, and Jan Brewer is saying we're going to find where the bodies are buried, and I don't know what, that was a crazy line. I mean, what's happened here? And you have overworked agents, and you have got under, underperforming, you know, supervisors, somebody's head is going to roll.
Ted Simons: This particular cartoon that you did, did you get any feedback on this considering the nature of the cartoon?
Steve Benson: Some positive feedback, also, while I do the Jesus Christ cartoons, and they say, "Jesus Christ, you can't run that", but in this case, we were able to do it, if Mr. Carter can't take care of things, you know, they will turn it over to a professional.
Ted Simons: Brian? Cps?
Brian Fairrington: I think Carter is going to go the way, the way of the dinosaur. He's going to get cut for sure, and you know, it's proving out to be a disaster with the 6,000 cases getting, you know, stampedlike they were and not investigated. It will be -- it's serious, particularly when you deal with children.
Ted Simons: Right.
Steve Benson: And you have got to take care of it.
Ted Simons: Right. Bad Santa on the roof, and bad Santas are cartoon fodder, they are just -- they are there for you.
Steve Besnon: Yes. And in this case, bad Santa is pouring the , files down the chimney, and letting them burn on Christmas Eve, providing a little tinder for that. And what a, what a, a nightmarish, you know, holiday for these kids.
Ted Simons: Yeah. And let's move on now, and we had the Yarnell hill fire, the Yarnell hill fire investigation, and again, when you get the, to the tragedies, you have got to be a little careful, or do you?
Steve Benson: Well, in this case, I think that it's time to, you know, pay tribute to, to this, this, to these heroic guys, who were, unfortunately, under-equiped and didn't know where they were, and now we have got these huge lawsuits, the one that just came down finally we got a decent lawsuit, and it's going to result in probably more lawsuits, and just probably so, it's outrageous.
Brian Fairrington: This is a prime example of how we handle this. You get the initial tragedy, and it's like an onion, you peel it away and there is other issues, and that's what happened with the lawsuits, and you know, over the compensation, and that's going to be pretty big.
Ted Simons: And smoky bear there.
Brian Fairrington: And playing, you know, paying a memorial to, to the fallen, it was -- it's hard to fathom that, that, people and the way that they die, probably will be a more horrible way to die.
Ted Simons: And Steve, you have got the Federal aid, not coming to Yarnell.
Steve Benson: Yeah. I mean, I think that this, this -- I could see the legalistic argument that, you know, you have to raise -- you have to meet a certain standard in terms of what you are able to fund yourself, and what you need help from the Government on, but, I think that compassion here, I think if they had erred on the side of helping us, in these tight economic times, but, a little spit on the ash mound, you know.
Ted Simons: And finally, we have the, the Arizona division of forestry.
Brian Fairrington: Yes. They were found, you know, liable because, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and finally someone is going to pay, but the forestry division takes care of its problem is to burn their problem.
Ted Simons: All right. All right, and moving on, let's talk about Obama care, a very big topic, and Steve, again, when you -- a baby in a crib here with a snake.
Steve Benson: Well, all I'm doing here is I'm illustrating a metaphor, that's commonly used by politicians saying, my opponent is trying to kill the baby in the crib. So, I'm guilty now of, of drawing what that guy is doing.
Brian Fairrington: Doing bad impressions.
Steve Benson: But the GOP wants to kill this in the crib. They wanted to strangle this thing before it was a, you know, a gleam in Obama's eye. It's ruthless.
Ted Simons: And we have returned to bad Santa.
Brian Fairrington: And what better way to, to wake up for Christmas than get cancellation letters from the insurance company this, and the crash of the website, were, will be the two, the two things --
Steve Benson: You are making it sound like --
Brian Fairrington: That Obama care will be remembered for.
Steve Benson: And they did not have their insurance --
Brian Fairrington: The insurance companies are taking advantage of the law and, and setting up the letters.
Steve Benson: They are not covered.
Brian Fairrington: They are claiming that they can cancel it because they have to follow the regulations and what they have to be. Again, with the website crashing and this and -- there really was a lot of call on both sides to Pavilion it and try to -- to postpone it and try to fix it.
Steve Benson: Timeout, they want to postpone it so that they can kill the baby in the crib, strangle it.
Ted Simons: Is that going to be the recurring motif tonight? But you have got the bandaid.
Steve Benson: But, in this case, this was an utter unmitigated disaster, and they were trying to push this thing politically to have the, the October 1, you know, you know, roll out and, and it hasn't been technologically vetted, and so you have got all these, these various subcontractors, who don't know what the other hand is doing, and it was -- it was pushed too fast, too far. But I think they will work it out. I know that, that's your worst nightmare, million people covered by insurance who can't afford it.
Brian Fairrington: Well no, it was originally a Republican idea, you need to give them that.
Steve Benson: It was the heritage foundation.
Ted Simons: And there is the laptop crashing into the White House, again, and, you know, a bit of -- I thought of 9/11 when I saw that, what's he thinking?
Brian Fairrington: Yeah, and you know, it, it -- the website, and tech issues are always a thing that, that, that, that have bugs and, and a hard workout, and they said again this week they made some changes.
Ted Simons: Alright, and we should mention that this is being taped for broadcast throughout the next couple of weeks, and thanks for blowing that idea out of the water.
Ted Simons: Again, you have got Democrats fleeing the President.
Steve Benson: You had Obama meet with Democrats saying help us out here, and we have got to go back to our constituents, well, they are doing the rollout pretty good, but yeah, this is a liability, and there have been Democrats grumbling and saying, you know, no, this is too politically of a hot potato.
Brian Fairrington: Well I think, you know, Obama's poll numbers reflect overwhelmingly people are unhappy with a lot of what he's doing, and there will not be with Obama care, and one of the reasons that, that his poll numbers reflect that is, and the website, indicates that, that, that they should push it back, that they should rework a bit, you know.
Steve Benson: And they can rework it, but actually, as it gets up and rolling, and it's humming along, it takes one second for, for a, you know, for a call to be answered. And as is more successfully implemented, I know this is your worst nightmare. More people will be satisfied with it. Look, they had the same problem with Romney-care in Massachusetts.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, Bain waste on your cartoon. Explain, please, because that's a little subtle there now for some of our --
Steve Fairrington: Well, you know, that was -- Bain was Romney's company, and, you know, and he's been one of the loudest callers.
Ted Simons: Alright -- didn't want that to slide by there, without anyone seeing that -- and we have the Governor here, interesting --
Steve Benson: She's a strong conservative who says I am not going to take Government handouts, and this is bad for the economy, and Obama is a socialist, but hey, expanding Medicare for, for, for, or Medicaid rather, she'll take it. I mean, so, you have got to hand it to her, you know.
Brian Fairrington: You have to, to give Janny-poo some props that she made the right decision because, you know, it was financially beneficial to the State of Arizona, with a lot of the fed money.
Steve Benson: Janny who?
Brian Fairrington: She's running for Governor.
Steve Benson: Do you have the hots for the Governor?
Brian Fairrington: I love 70-year-old women.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the poll numbers here in a different venue.
Steve Benson: Well, the poll numbers. He's down, what, he's down where, where you are a hero, your hero, Bush was in the low 30s.
Brian Fairrington: H.W. Bush, not 43.
Steve Benson: So most people now think that -- the thing that is really a challenge for Obama, most people now think that he's deliberately deceptive. They don't trust him. You know. You can, you can keep your insurance and find out a lot of the people can't, so they don't trust him anymore.
Brian Fairrington: Well, he went around campaigning for, for, to, to promote Obama care, and that was one of the selling points, you can keep your insurance, and when they find out that you can't or the insurance company is sending out the letters, you are right, it does speak to his, to his trustworthiness, and I think that's why his poll numbers reflect that.
Ted Simons: Happy Father's day, explain please.
Brian Fairrington: Well, yeah, I think a lot of people feel that, that, that, you know, a lot of things Obama has done haven't been good for the overall country and, and, you know, and so, I think that again, going back to the poll numbers --
Steve Benson: Why do you have a, a black man in a cartoon --
Brian Fairrington: I knew you were going to say that.
Steve Benson: With a hangman's noose. Haven't you learned any sensitivity?
Brian Fairrington: But it has nothing to do with that -- thank you very much.
Ted Simons: All right, let's move now on -- well, you guys, you have got the President with, with, at least the foot working up on the ankle, and maybe --
Brian Fairrington: Look at that caricature of Obama, that racist caricature.
Steve Benson: Oh, please. I have got his mouth open, but yeah. Well, Obama does -- I don't exactly remember, to be honest with you, what exactly he said in this particular situation that put his foot in his mouth, but I'm sure that, you know, he's --
Brian Fairrington: It has to do with your old age and inability to reflect.
Ted Simons: It says something, though, that he cannot remember if there was so many instances --
Steve Benson: All I remember is I should sign up for expanded Medicaid, that's what I do. But, yeah, there was something going on and Obama reacted to it, let's move on.
Ted Simons: Ok. Wow. Are you sure it's not Medicare you should be looking into that? If you can't beat them, join them.
Steve Benson: This is scary. This is scary. You have what, some 30, maybe 40 Republicans in the legislature chambers across the nation that have tried in some way, form, or fashion to impede the, the ultimate elemental power, that the people have to control their Government, and that is the right to vote. When the right to vote is, is, is seriously undermined, then you have lost the country, and it seems like the Republicans, the name of, of, you know, preventing fraud, which is, which is a boogie man, they are trying to restrict minorities, older people, you know, the young people from voting.
Ted Simons: We don't have a cartoon from you but would you like to respond?
Brian Fairrington: No, I don't, let's move on.
Ted Simons: Ok.
Steve Benson: You need to be on some kind of medication, too.
Ted Simons: We have a, a puzzle here, and this runs in a string of cartoons we're going to show here. With the Republican party, eating its own tail here, there is some really -- a civil war going on, in many respects, within the party.
Steve Benson: There is, and the demographics of the country are changing, and the Tea Party, which came in as this boisterous, refreshing change, they, they are not fitting in. With, with the, the system of government that's called bipartisanship. Boehner has hell breaking loose with his, with his coalition there and, and --
Brian Fairrington: I think that, you know, like I think that the Republican party has to get that in line. They have to get the extremists and they have to get it in line. Is the gridlock that's been, it's been causing.
Steve Benson: The Tea Party's attitude is the best Government is no Government. We're the wrecking crew. The more we can destroy and disfunctionalize government the better America will be, and that's not what people want. Eventually, politics is local. And if you start impeding my ability to get services from the Government --
Ted Simons: You have got Karl Rove and Tea Partyers here saying it's our party, whose party is it?
Steve Benson: Well, Karl Rove has demonstrated to the, to satisfaction that the Tea Party is actually the skunk, you know, in the garden and, and so, yeah, they are both fighting over the party, but, it's interesting to see, like you say, this, this civil war going on.
Ted Simons: And --
Brian Fairrington: I think the Tea Party will lose traction over time, I don't think they are in it for the long term.
Ted Simons: Quickly now, we have -- the Government shutdown, which by all, has hurt Republicans more than Democrats, and you have got both the vehicles right there in, on the highway.
Brian Fairrington: And I think, you know, a lot of what the shutdown had to do was over Obama care, directly or indirectly, and I think strategically any time we have a shutdown, we had this happen in â€˜95 with Newt Gingrich, when he tried to do it, and it will hurt the Republicans if they try to do it instead of trying to compromise.
Steve Benson: And that's why we had a miracle happen in the last couple days where they came together on a moderate budget resolution, that will, actually, stabilize the economy for a couple of years.
Brian Fairrington: Paul Ryan.
Steve Benson: Paul Ryan, yeah. He would not have been a good Vice President but good at crunching the numbers.
Ted Simons: And Steve is going back to the theme that the Republican party is, in many respects, hurting itself.
Steve Benson: Yeah. It is bent on self-destruction and doesn't need a battleship. Just give them an open seed.
Brian Fairrington: Well the Republican party has grown so much, and look at the Republican party of, of Goldwater days, he looked like a conservative and today Reagan or Goldwater wouldn't be allowed in the Republican party.
Steve Benson: Reagan or Goldwater, you got that right.
Ted Simons: Good or bad evolution?
Brian Fairrington: I think it has been a bad evolution because they cannot get anything done.
Ted Simons: And there were a lot of conversations now, how about the Dixiecrats, the Democrats, of the bygone generations have become Republicans, and you touched on this with the guys and the stars and bars in his living room.
Steve Benson: This was drawn in the context of Obama, supposedly being a Marxist whimpo that he is, taking it to, to the terrorists over there and, and bombing and, and droning and all of that kind of thing. And why would a guy that was born in Kenya, why would a guy born in Kenya bomb his own country.
Steve Benson: That's what I'm saying.
Ted Simons: You almost had a New England tinge to it. Where are you from, anyway? Where was that character from, I should ask?
Steve Benson: I'm a Texan that likes -- what --
Ted Simons: Let's talk about guns now, guns, as with last year, guns, a very big issue. Steve, the mandatory gun buyback.
Ted Simons: I just think that it is so insane. You are not allowing police agencies to buy back guns and destroy them, and you have to put them back on the market. And, and complicating this is, is thanks to the NRA, there is no product liability threat that they are hanging over gun manufacturers, so, they are going to be recycled back, what, in the name of the second amendment? I mean, this is just insane. Absolutely insane.
Ted Simons: Brian?
Brian Fairrington: Guns have been a major story this year. And on the anniversary of Sandy Hook, the guy that, that, that perpetrated that, I mean, they come out with a report that this that he was heavily into the violent video games, and I think that, you know, that's one of the things that, that has to be looked at.
Steve Benson: And in Japan, and I have lived there, and they are very heavy into the violent video games, and they kill eight people a year --
Brian Fairrington: They, they attack, attacked Pearl Harbor.
Steve Benson: Yeah. Living in the past, like most conservatives.
Ted Simons: Ok, wow. Where did that come from? Wow. Ok. Let's get back there, to another gun issue here. And talk to me about this one. This -- did they get much of a response? I could see where you could get a response.
Steve Benson: You want to get responses on this and, and the response, that came from the NRA, was so, so disappointing. They were silent for a week after Sandy Hook, and everyone, you know, was anticipating they come out with something meaningful, and what does, what does lame la Pierre propose? He proposes more guns, we need to put a foot locker behind every teacher's desk and we are going to arm ourselves, and that's all we need, to arm --
Brian Fairrington: Clearly, the NRA needs a new public relations department because they don't know how to respond to these things, back when, when Charlton Heston was the President of the NRA. He would go to these rallies, and it seems like it's the wrong message to send, and a lot of moderate, sensible gun owners think it's crazy.
Steve Benson: I met Charlton Heston, and I invited him to speak at a cartoon convention, and over dinner he leaned toward me--
Brian Fairrington: And he said get your damn, dirty hands off me, radio it?
Steve Benson: And he said, "gun registration is coming". That's what he told me over dinner.
Ted Simons: Really?
Steve Benson: Yeah.
Ted Simons: Ok.
Steve Benson: So --
Ted Simons: And quickly, before we get up --
Steve Benson: It's a communist conspiracy; Charlton Heston was in on it.
Ted Simons: Did I lose control of this? Briefly. Governor Brewer, a shot at Governor Brewer.
Steve Benson: There is not a gun that she doesn't like. After Gabrielle Giffords was shot as a legislator, you know, the votes, the state, to the gun, and we have our own official gun now, whatever it is. But, yeah, she's just -- she's just -- she's doing what her, her puppet masters tell her to do.
Ted Simons: Oh, right. Before we leave guns, that one, I mean, do you use children's bodies in a cartoon? How far do you go on something like this?
Steve Benson: When children are killed, yeah, I think that we should use it. This cartoon was drawn a year ago. And they say you cannot run it because you have done too many, and I say, I will wait for a year and I will hold you to this. So, I showed him the half drawn cartoon last week,and he goes, do we really have to? And I said, you promised. You promised. And I think that it's powerful. Because it shows in human terms, the cause of this unregulated militia that we have out there.
Ted Simons: Speaking of, of rights, and regulations and, and so forth--NSA spying, it's interesting how that kind of comes and goes in terms of people's attention and curiosity and then goes away and then we find out that there is surveillance, and then you draw a cartoon.
Steve Benson: Well, you know, the NSA collects, get this, a billion, a billion, as in, as in boy and, and a billion data points a day, a day. Ok. And, and, and it's a, a fundamental violation of the fourth amendment. If you are going to start - the ACLU are arguing, it's one thing to barge into your computer or your house, but it's also unconstitutional, just to collect my stuff, you can't just start collecting reply stuff even if you are not going to process it.
Brian Fairrington: To speak to that, I mean, you need a warrant. Especially in America when we are obsessed with tweeting, Facebook and all this other stuff, all this information, it's worthless, and they are getting all this information, and you know, how can they possibly go through it --
Steve Benson: I would be obsessed.
Brian Fairrington: What are they going to do with it, you know?
Ted Simons: All right.
Brian Fairrington: Said the tweet, the twit.
Ted Simons: All right, let's get to some, some general topics here, and the Jodi Arias trial --
Brian Fairrington: Who? Who? [Laughter]
Ted Simons: I want to say this is the first time on "Arizona Horizon" that we have used the word, "Jodi", followed by "Arias".
Brian Fairrington: I am proud to be responsible for that. It was one of those big trials that happened to be here in Phoenix.
Steve Benson: That your wife commentated on.
Brian Fairrington: Yes, she's a commentator for CNN, hi, honey, but she, meaning Jodi Arias, captivated a certain demographic of housewives, who eat bon-bons and watch that every day.
Ted Simons: Who was captivated by that?
Brian Fairrington: Nancy Grace, did you see her fat head on TV every -- her fat head on TV every night?
Ted Simons: Oh!
Brian Fairrington: It had all the makings of a lifetime -- it was a Lifetime movie and got great ratings. But, you know, it's one more notch to becoming a major metropolitan place where we have this stuff happening. Great parks, great murder trials.
Ted Simons: Well at least we're not Florida, and in Florida we had the Trayvon Martin case, and this got big attention for quite a while.
Steve Benson: It did, and I do believe that Mr. Zimmerman came to, to the gun fight in a bad mood. We find out now he's a perpetual domestic abuser, he had a fight with his wife that night, and his pension is to go for the gun. And I do believe--
Brian Fairrington: You converted me but I have to say in hindsight, I have changed my attitude about it. I think this guy is an unstable guy. We have seen reports, he likes to wield the gun. So, you know.
Steve Benson: And I think that, that, I think that Trayvon Martin was racially profiled from the get-go. There is all kinds of stories like he was rattling doorknobs and had a hoodie and peeking in windows, this is all, all coming the dark underbelly of don't trust African-Americans.
Ted Simons: You have "Stand Your Ground", though.
Brian Fairrington: Well, I think that there is a lot of people that feel that, that this is a law that, that, that is necessary, that, that there is a lot of innocent people out there, that fall under that, and I think that initially, people thought that George Zimmerman fell under that, and now in hindsight of his actions they may not feel that way.
Steve Benson: The "Stand Your Ground" law, there is only one person to testify and, and in defense of standing their ground, and that's the person that killed the other person. And what's happened is homicides and, and, and self-defense events have, have, have, have mushroomed in Florida since this.
Ted Simons: The Boston Marathon bombing, difficult to do this one?
Steve Benson: It was the first of the first blush, so to speak, and I did this cartoon the day of, and, and some people were disturbed by it because they wanted a tribute right away, but I wanted to deal with the shock. You know, the travesty, the gut wrenching pain that they were feeling, so I had these, the grim reaper breaking the tape.
Ted Simons: I think that we have time for one more, and that will be of Joe Arpaio, and of course, he's in the news every year, as he was this year.
Steve Benson: Yeah, well, of course.
Brian Fairrington: The gift that keeps on giving.
Steve Benson: Right. But, the judge for, you know, for illegal use of, of his men and, and women, deputies, to racially profile. They follow you around, and commit --
Brian Fairrington: How long can this go on? He's been in, what, years now? The sheriff? It's amazing that he still gets, gets elected. I don't know.
Ted Simons: Before we go, and I have asked you a couple times what response did you get, were you worried. Does the response -- are you trying to convince people, are you trying to motivate people, provoke people? What are you trying to do?
Brian Fairrington: Well, I think initially, you are, basically, you react as anybody with an opinion about anything, and that you sort of -- you react by, by expressing that opinion in a visual way and metaphors, but, as we work into it, you know, we try to be creative, and there are times when, you know, we try to push, you know, is and exaggerate like silly putty, we are not literal journalists, we don't have the who, why, what, and where, and we can take advantage of that. We push buttons along the way.
Steve Benson: What I like to do is I like to grab --
Brian Fairrington: Draw on your underwear.
Steve Benson: Thank you very much.
Ted Simons: You got 15 seconds.
Steve Benson: I like to grab people's attention. I like to hit them in the gut, and knock the winds out of their sails, and then go wow! And once I have got their attention, I want them to think, it's not that I'm trying to convert them or convince them. I want a reaction, and that's what we get with the cartoons.
Ted Simons: And we're going to get a reaction from this show. We always do. It's good to have you both here.
Brian Fairrington: Thank you.
Steve Benson: I wish that I could say the same.
Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, and thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.
In this segment:
Steve Benson:Cartoonist, Arizona Republic; Brian Fairrington:Cartoonist;
Also in this episode:
STAY in touch
Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: