Cartoonist Steve Benson looks back on 2017

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Steve Benson, Pulitzer Prize-winner and longtime cartoonist for the Arizona Republic discusses the value of political cartoons in a year marked by mass shootings, catastrophic natural disasters and President Donald Trump’s controversial style of leadership.

Political cartoons have been a staple of political discourse in the U.S. since 1754, when Benjamin Franklin published the famous “Join or Die” cartoon in the Pennsylvania Gazette.


TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," A LOOK BACK AT THE BIG HEADLINES OF 2017 AS INTERPRETED BY ARIZONA REPUBLIC POLITICAL CARTOONIST STEVE BENSON. IT'S OUR ANNUAL CARTOONIST SHOW WITH STEVE BENSON NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON."

"ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. EACH YEAR WE TAKE A LOOK BACK AT THE BIG STORIES OF THE PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS WITH ARIZONA REPUBLIC POLITICAL CARTOONIST STEVE BENSON WHO CERTAINLY HAD QUITE A BIT TO COVER IN 2017. WE WELCOME STEVE BENSON.

STEVE BENSON: HERE'S TO A GREAT YEAR.

TED SIMONS: TO ARIZONA HORIZON. WAS IT A GREAT YEAR FOR POLITICAL CARTOONIST I MEAN ON A DAILY BASIS YOU GOT STUFF GOING ON. IS THAT GOOD OR IS THAT A LITTLE CHALLENGING?

STEVE BENSON: WELL THERE’S YOU KNOW… SUCH A CORNUCOPIA AND SO MANY LIKE CORN BALLS IN THE COPIA. IT UH BUT, YEAH IT WAS GREAT. OF COURSE, TRUMP KIND OF SUCKED ALL OF THE AIR OUT OF HIS CHIN AND PUT IT IN HIS STOMACH AND THE ROOM THAT HE WAS IN. BUT YOU KNOW BESIDES THAT WE HAD A GOOD VARIETY.

TED SIMONS: CARTOONS WITH TRUMP GET THE MOST IMPACT, UH, THE PRESIDENT GET THE MOST RESPONSE DO YOU THINK FROM THE AUDIENCE?

STEVE BENSON: WE GET A LOT OF DIFFERENT RESPONSE. I MAKE SURE MY EDITORS ALWAYS UNDER SIEGE FROM THE TRUMP WING, OUT BEYOND PLUTO MAKE SURE THEY SEE THAT ONCE IN A WHILE MY MOTHER WILL WRITE UNDER AN ASSUMED NAME AND I GET A FEW OTHER FAN MAILS.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS, AND WE’RE GONNA GET TO THE CARTOONS IN JUST A SECOND HERE. AS FAR AS DRAWING DONALD TRUMP WITH HIS HAIR THE WAY IT IS, IS HE DIFFICULT TO DRAW COMPARED TO OBAMA, BUSH, CLINTON, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS?

STEVE BENSON: PHYSICALLY SPEAKING HE'S A COMBINATION OF PUTTING IN MEANNESS AND THEN YOU HAVE TO CAPTURE THAT MAGIC IN THE CARTOON BUT I HAVE FINALLY COME UP WITH THE SEVENTEEN SECRET HERBS AND SPICES THAT HE USES TO COLOR HIS HAIR. I STARTED OUT WITH A BLAND YELLOW AND I THROW ON A BLAND ORANGE AND THEN I THROW IN SOME PINK AND THEN SOME BROWN, KIND OF LIGHT IT UP AND MIX IT AROUND. LET IT SIT IN THE COUNTER FOR A FEW DAYS UNTIL IT GETS RIGHT. I USE THE SAME RECIPE COMBO FOR HIS SKIN, BUT I JUST KIND OF LIGHTEN UP ON THAT. I DON'T LIGHTEN UP ON TRUMP.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT WE’RE GONNA GET TO DONALD TRUMP HERE IN A SECOND. LET'S START THESE CARTOONS WITH THE BIG STORY OF THE MOMENT. THE BIG STORY OF THE TIME. THAT IS ALL OF THIS GROPING AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT. GOODNESS GRACIOUS.

STEVE BENSON: WHO NEEDS TERM LIMITS WHEN YOU’VE GOT SEXUAL HARASSMENT LIMITS THAT ARE GOING ON.

TED SIMONS: AND YOU GOT TRENT FRANKS AT THE END OF THE BAR. AND THEN YOU’VE GOT ALL… THAT GIVES ME THE CREEPS THERE.

STEVE BENSON: I KNOW AL FRANKEN -- OR AT LEAST I MET HIM. I CAPTURED I THINK THAT MAGICAL COMBINATION OF THOSE TWO GUYS.

TED SIMONS: YOU THINK SO HUH?

STEVE BENSON: WE WERE SITTING AROUND AND THINKING ABOUT AL FRANKEN'S ANNOUNCEMENT… FRANKS, EXCUSE ME. THAT HE WAS GONNA BE QUITTING ON JANUARY THIRTY ONE. THE CONSENSUS WAS HE AIN’T GONNA LAST THAT LONG AND THEN THAT CARTOON CAME OUT AND HE QUIT.

TED SIMONS: THAT CONSENSUS WON DIDN’T IT.

STEVE BENSON: BUT I THINK MAYBE AP.

TED SIMONS: AP HAD THE STORY ABOUT THE FIVE-MILLION DOLLARS, THE ALLEGATIONS THERE.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, MOUNT GROPEMORE.

STEVE BENSON: MAN THIS TOOK ME-I WAS GROPING FOR IDEAS. I CAME UP WITH THIS ONE. IT TOOK ME TWO FRICKING DAYS TO DRAW THIS THING.

TED SIMONS: HOW COME, WHY, JUST SO MANY FACES?

STEVE BENSON: HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO DRAW A MOUNTAIN BEFORE? I ASK YOU
TED SIMONS: NO, NO

STEVE BENSON: I HAD TO DOUBLE DECK MOUNT RUSHMORE. SOMEBODY SAID I LEFT OUT BILL COSBY, SO I KINDA TUCKED HIM DOWN IN THE BOTTOM.

TED SIMONS: THAT AN AFTER THOUGHT DOWN THERE IN THE LOWER LEFT OF THE CORNER.
STEVE BENSON: I HAD TO KNOCKOUT SOME TREES AND STUFF. I HAD THIS ALL LANDSCAPED AND EVERYTHING.

TED SIMONS: SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO. YOU KNOW- YOU’RE ARE GOING TO SHERRIFF JOE ARPAIO WHEN HE’S NOT IN THE HEADLINES ANYMORE.

STEVE BENSON: FIRST IT WAS CIVIL CONTEMPT, AND THEN HE COPPED TO CRIMINAL CONTEMPT. THEY HE OFFERED TO PAY THOSE HE HAD ILLEGALLY DETAINED. THEN IT GOES TO THE APPELLA COURT LEVEL, THE FEDERAL COURT AND SHE FINDS HIM GUILTY OF CRIMINAL CONTEMPT. BEFORE SHE CAN ISSUE A SENTENCE -- TRUMP. I WAS SURPRISED THEY LET THIS ONE.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS DISTURBING IN SO MANY WAYS.

STEVE BENSON: I THOUGHT IT WAS TASTEFULLY DONE. AND THAT'S WHAT SURPRISED ME. IT WAS A STINKER UP THE WAZOO. TRUMP IS WILLING TO DO ANYTHING FOR HIS FRIENDS, INCLUDING THE RUSSIANS AND STARTING IN THAT ORDER.

TED SIMONS: THE NEXT ONE, I'M SURE, GOT A BIT OF A RESPONSE.

STEVE BENSON: THIS IS THE HORRIBLE TRAGEDY IN TEXAS AT A SMALL CHURCH WHERE ANOTHER GUN MASSACRE. SOMETIMES THE BEST CARTOONS ARE THE ONES YOU DON'T HEAR THE GUNFIRE. YOU JUST HEAR THE IMAGE. AND SO I LET THAT GO ON ITS OWN.

TED SIMONS: ANOTHER ONE AS FAR AS GUNS ARE CONCERNED.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH, WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THE BACKGROUND CHECKS DO WORK IF YOU APPLY THEM. I THINK THAT MILLIONS OR THOUSANDS OF WOULD BE GUN OWNERS HAVE BEEN STOPPED BECAUSE OF BACKGROUND CHECKS. I THINK WE OUGHT TO BE MORE STRINGENT AND IMPLEMENT MORE SERIOUS PENALTIES AND REQUIREMENTS.

TED SIMONS: TED SIMONS: QUESTION, YOU ARE A FORMER COP.

STEVE BENSON: MMM HMM.

TED SIMONS: POLICE OFFICERS, LAW ENFORCEMENT. WHAT DO THEY THINK ABOUT GUN CONTROL?

STEVE BENSON: WELL, WHEN WE WOULD SIT IN THE BRIEFING ROOM AND CHAT AND DEBATE BEFORE WE GO OUT ON THE STREET, THERE IS A GOOD MIX. BY IN LARGE, I WOULD SAY MOST COPS THAT I HAVE WORKED WITH TEND TO BE RIGHT OF CENTER, TEND TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE, MORE LAW AND ORDER MINDSET. I'M NOT AGAINST LAW AND ORDER, BUT POLITICALLY SPEAKING, I DIDN'T MEET TOO MANY LIBERAL COMMIE SQUISHY PUKES.

TED SIMONS: I WOULDN’T IMAGE YOU WOULD, BUT AS FAR AS WORRYING ABOUT GUNS ON THE STREET, THEY ARE THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE.

STEVE BENSON: RIGHT, THEY ARE THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE. IN THAT RESPECT, THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE THE ASSOCIATION OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE COMING OUT IN FAVOR OF GUN CONTROL LAWS BECAUSE IT PROTECTS THE OFFICERS.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, LETS GET TO THE ELECTIONS. WELL THERE YOU GO, THERE'S THE BEAR. AND THERE'S COMEY.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH, THERE WAS A LOT OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS HAT THEY WERE TALKING TO IN REGARDS TO HEALTH CARE. I THINK RUSSIAN CARE IS WHAT TRUMP ENROLLED IN. AND HE'S REAPING THE BENEFITS.

TED SIMONS: SEEING HOW YOU DREW HILARY CLINTON HERE, WOULD YOU RATHER DRAW HILARY CLINTON OR DONALD TRUMP, JUST IN A PURELY CARTOONIST MINDSET?

STEVE BENSON: I WOULD GO WITH TRUMP. HE'S LIKE THE DEMON FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. BUT HE’S A LOT FUNNER TO DRAW. HILARY CLINTON HAS THIS KIND OF STERN LOOK AND YOU HAVE TO GET THE WRINKLES JUST RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: THE NEXT ONE-THIS ONE TAKES A LOT OF TIME TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT’S GOING ON. ALL THE SUDDEN I LOOK IN THE MIDDLE AND THERE HE IS- THERE’S THAT FACE AGAIN WITH THAT HAIR.

STEVE BENSON: I WANTED THAT TO POP OUT, THE BRIGHT ORANGE BLOB IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS BROWN AND GRAY AND GREEN AND BLACK AND WHITE DESTRUCTION. AND OF COURSE, PUERTO RICO IS STILL WALLOWING IN THIS HORRIBLE AFTERMATH NEARLY – WHAT IS IT?

STEVE BENSON: 50 OR 60% OF THEM HAVE AVAILABLE ELECTRICITY NOW. AND THEN TRUMP SAYS THE TROUBLE WITH YOU PUERTO RICANS IS YOU DON'T WORK HARD ENOUGH. THOSE LAZY PUERTO RICANS.

TED SIMONS: I THOUGHT I SAW A NUMBER OF STATUE OF LIBERTY CARTOONS THIS YEAR FROM YOU. THIS STATUE OF LIBERTY IS KIND OF A TOUCH STONE, ISN'T IT? YOU CAN REALLY DO A LOT WITH THAT IMAGE.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH IT’S GOT A LOT OF POWER, BECAUSE NOT ONLY IS IT ICONIC AND OF COURSE WE GOT IT FROM THE FRENCH AND THEIR A BUNCH OF COMMUNISTS AND IT FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE LEFT WING, AND THAT’S WHY I LIKE USING IT. BUT SHE'S ALSO A POWERFUL WOMAN. YOU CAN USE IT FOR ALL KINDS OF COMMENTARY. IN THIS CASE, IT HAS TO DO WITH TRUMP SETTING CONDITIONS FOR IMMIGRANTS THAT I THOUGHT WERE UNREASONABLE.

TED SIMONS: AND AS FAR AS THE WALL IS CONCERNED..

STEVE BENSON: WELL, YOU KNOW, HE TALKS A BIG GAME ABOUT FUNDING THE WALL. BUT CONGRESS HASN’T MADE ANY MOVE ON ACTUALLY COOPERATING WITH HIM ON THAT. AND I DON’T THINK THEY WILL.

TED SIMONS: THE HAIR AGAIN HERE. YOU CAN'T OVER EXAGGERATE THAT HAIR. YOU CAN'T DO IT.

STEVE BENSON: NO, I MEAN WHEN I DRAW HIM HEAD ON. NOW THIS IS LIKE AN ANGULAR GEOMETRICAL MALFUNCTION. HIS HAIR COMES OUT LIKE AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER AND FLIPS UP LIKE ELVIS PRESLEY IN THE BACK. SO, YOU KNOW, HE’S GOT TWO THINGS GOING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS. WHEN I DO IT HEAD ON, I CAN'T GET THAT AIRCRAFT LOOK, SO I PULL IT OFF TO THE SIDE. I SWIVEL HIS HAIR SO IT STICKS OUT THAT WAY.

TED SIMONS: I SEE. OK, FOX NEWS, WE’RE GOING TO THE MEDIA HERE, OK I GOT THIS ONE.

STEVE BENSON: TRUMP SPENDS LIKE LITERALLY FIVE TO SEVEN HOURS A DAY WATCHING TRUMP.
TED SIMONS: THAT’S WHAT THEY SAY.

STEVE BENSON: WATCHING TRUMP ON FOX. AND WATCHING ALL THE PRO TRUMP, YOU KNOW-

TED SIMONS: TED SIMONS: THEY SAY HE HATE WATCHES CNN.

STEVE BENSON: I BET THEY FORCE HIM TO WATCH THAT. MR. PRESIDENT, YOU DON'T GET ANY FOOD UNTIL YOU WATCH CNN.

TED SIMONS: AND HERE IS OF COURSE THE FAMOUS QUOTE ABOUT THE MEDIA BEING THE ENEMY OF THE AMERICAN – THERE’S THAT HAIR AGAIN

STEVE BENSON: THIS IS SCARY. THIS IS SCARY. WHEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BEGINS TO QUESTION THE ROLE AND LEGITIMACY OF A FREE PRESS, THEN WE ARE STARTING TO WOBBLE TOWARD HYPOCRISY.

TED SIMONS: THE WHOLE FAKE NEWS. NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE IN ANYMORE ESPECIALLY WHO WANT TO HOLD ON TO A CERTAIN MINDSET.

STEVE BENSON: WELL, TRUMP HAS A VERY SIMPLE WORLD. IF THE MEDIA REPORTS SOMETHING THAT HE LIKES, ITS THE GREATEST THING EVER AND RAH RAH FOR THE CONSTITUTION. IF HE DOESN’T AGREE WITH IT, IT'S FAKE NEWS. AS MNBC, HE WANTS TO YANK THEIR BROADCASTING LICENSE. I MEAN SERIOUSLY HE CAN'T DO IT. THE GOVERNMENT OVERSEERS ON THIS HAVE SAID HE CAN'T DO IT. CONSTITUTION -- WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO TRUMP?

TED SIMONS: THERE WAS A BIG STORY HERE REGARDING CONFEDERATE STATUES. THE FIRST ONE- OBVIOUSLY THIS IS TROUBLING TO SEE. IT'S A TOUCHY ISSUE, ESPICALLY IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

STEVE BENSON: OUR LOVELY STATUES, AS TRUMP REFERRED TO THEM. THESE ARE TRIBUTES TO TRAITORS WHO LOST A WAR, WANTED TO DIVIDE THE COUNTRY, SPLIT IT OFF, HAVE THEIR OWN NATION AND FIGHT TO THE DEATH AGAINST THE UNION. THAT'S WHAT WE ARE DEALING WITH. I USED TO LIVE IN VIRGINIA. I WOULD SEE THOSE STATUES. THE BOTTOM LINE HERE IS, JUST LIKE WE DON'T DESERVE TO HAVE A REBEL FLAG FLYING ON OUR NATIONAL FLAGPOLES IN CEMETERIES PARTICULARLY FOR FEDERALLY DOWNED TROOPS. WE SHOULDN'T GET SICK TO OUR STOMACH WATCHING THIS TRIBUTES BEING WORSHIPED BY SOUTHERN WANT TO BE WINNERS.

TED SIMONS: THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE TAKEN DOWN. NEXT ONE, THERE SHE IS, THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.

STEVE BENSON: THERE WE GO AGAIN. THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE COURSE OF TAKING A KNEE. TRUMP WANTS TO GO ON AND ON IN HIS TWEETS. WE HAVE ENOUGH BAD CALLS FROM THE TWEETING REFS. AND HE WANTS TO BE THE BIG FAT ORANGE TWEETING REF. I MEAN USING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AGAIN- AGAIN, A POWERFUL FEMALE.

TED SIMONS: THE NEXT ONE PRETTY MUCH DESCRIBES I’M GUESSING YOUR FEELINGS.

STEVE BENSON: WELL, HE DRIVES ME NUTS, SO WHY DON’T WE GET RID OF THE NUTS. I MEAN THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH THAT CARTOON AND THAT’S WHAT WE DID.

TED SIMONS: THERE'S THE HAIR AGAIN. THE DUCKED BILL IN THE BACK AND THEN THE AIR CRAFT CARRIER-AM I GETTING THAT RIGHT?

STEVE BENSON: YOU ARE. AND I JUST LOVE THE WAY THE NFL AND THE COWBOYS ORGANIZATION, THEY WERE A LITTLE RETICENT. BUT YOU KNOW-EVERYONE HAS COME AROUND AND THEIR BASICALLY IN LINE TOGETHER. I MEAN BASICALLY-TRUMP SAYS YOU ARE AFRAID OF YOUR PLAYERS. YEAH, WE WANT THEM TO PLAY. I MEAN THAT’S WHY WE’RE AFRAID OF THEM. AND SO THEIR ALL DEMONSTRATING IN FAVOR OF CIVIL LIBERTIES AND LESS VIOLENCE.

TED SIMONS: NUCLEAR NORTH KOREA.

STEVE BENSON: THIS IS THE WONDER KID WITH THE NUCLEAR PACIFIER. WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN THERE. MY GOSH.

TED SIMONS: NO KIDDING. THE NEXT ONE SHOWS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER. BUT REALLY WE SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE AS FAR AS THE GUNS ARE CONCERNED.

STEVE BENSON: EVERYDAY, HE'S PUSHING US. WE ARE GOING TO WAR OVER TWEETS. WHY CAN'T WE GO TO WAR OVER HOW MANY GIRLFRIENDS HE'S GOT, SOMETHING SUBSTANTIVE. AND THEN OF COURSE, TRUMP SAID ONCE HE GOT INTO OFFICE HE WOULD BE TOO BUSY RUNNING THE COUNTRY TO PLAY GOLF. HE'S DONE OVER 80 ROUNDS SINCE AUGUST.

TED SIMONS: I HEARD HE HAS A HALF DECENT GAME?

STEVE BENSON: WELL, I WOULD CONCENTRATE ON- HE HAS A HALF DECENT BRAIN IS THAT WHAT YOU SAID?

TED SIMONS: NO, GOLF GAME. GOLF GAME. UH, JOHN MCCAIN HERE.

STEVE BENSON: I LOVE THAT MOMENT VERY QUIETLY AND WITH DIGNITY, HE GOES, NO. YOU KNOW, IT JUST-MAGNIFICENT- ON HEALTHCARE.

TED SIMONS: AND THEN OF COURSE WE HAVE HEALTHCARE HERE. NOT HEALTHCARE, IS THE I DON'T CARE.

STEVE BENSON: I MEAN MY GOSH, YOU HAVE 20,000,000 AMERICANS AT THE ACCOUNTING OFFICE SAID WOULD BE THROWN OFF HEALTHCARE IF HEALTHCARE PASSED.

TED SIMONS: WHICH EXPLAINS THE NEXT ONE.

STEVE BENSON: I DID THIS CARTOON EARLY ON. FROM DAY ONE, I BELIEVE TRUMP WAS IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION ON THE EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE. THAT’S A BIG WORD BUT HE'S RECEIVING FOREIGN GIFTS IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION. AND SO I THINK WE OUGHT TO REPEAL AND REPLACE HIM.

TED SIMONS: FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA. HOW’S THAT TRUMP CARE WORKING FOR YOU?

STEVE BENSON: I DID THIS WITH KIND OF A MANIACAL SATISFACTION THAT IT WOULD DRIVE TRUMP CRAZY.

TED SIMONS: DID IT DRIVE SOME UH-

STEVE BENSON: WELL, I SAW IT IN SOME NATIONAL MAGAZINES. I LIKE IT BECAUSE IT'S NICE AND IT GETS RIGHT TO THE POINT. IT GOT KIND OF A PURE, SIMPLE, SIMPLICITY TO IT – KIND OF LIKE THE WAY MY MIND WORKS.

TED SIMONS: ON WE GO TO SOME FOLKS WHO LOST GLEN CAMPBELL HERE.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH, YEAH. WICHITA LINEMAN. I LOVE CAMPBELL. WHAT A GREAT VOICE. HE REALLY CONNECTED WITH THE PEOPLE. HE CAN PLAY A MEAN GUITAR.

TED SIMONS: PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE HE WAS A PHENOMENAL GUITAR PLAYER.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH AND HE DID A LOT OF STUDIO GIGS. HIS BACK UPS, YOU KNOW, THE FACELESS-

TED SIMONS: THE WRECKING CREW WE TALKED ABOUT THEM ON THE PROGRAM. THANKS FOR WATCHING.

STEVE BENSON: HE WAS AMAZING, HE WAS A STUDIO ARTIST. JUST AN AMAZING GUY.

TED SIMONS: MARY TYLER MOORE. WE ALSO LOST MARY TYLER MOORE.

STEVE BENSON: I DREW THIS HAT TO FIT HER SMILE. YOU KNOW, SO SHE COULD PUT HER SMILE ON.

TED SIMONS: THAT’S RIGHT. TURN THE WORLD ON WITH HER SMILE.

STEVE BENSON: SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL. PEOPLE HATE MY POLITICAL CARTOONS AND I DO THE SON OF OBITUARY CARTOONS AND THEY LOVE ME FOR A FLEEING SECOND.

TED SIMONS: DID YOU SAY SON OF OBITUARY? GOOD GRACIOUS.

STEVE BENSON: THIS IS PUBLIC TELEVISION; WE’RE GOING TO PROBABLY GOING TO LOSE STANDARDS.

TED SIMONS: BUT YOU KNOW THEY MAY BE OBITUARIES BUT THEY’RE STILL ARE OPEN SEASON.

STEVE BENSON: WHAT'S GOING ON AT FOX? I’LL TELL YOU, THEIR CHASING THE FOXES, THAT’S FOR SURE. I GET PEOPLE SAYING HOW DARE YOU MOCK THE DEAD? AND I SAY WELL DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE AND O’REILLY ARE COMPANY ARE DOING TO WOMEN OVER THERE? O’REILLY JUST SETTLED FOR 32 MIL.

TED SIMONS: WELL, WE STARTED OFF WITH GROPING AND WE ARE CIRCLING BACK. WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING FINISHED HERE AND WE’RE CIRCLING BACK. THAT'S A DISTURBING LOOK THERE.

STEVE BENSON: I DON'T KNOW. THAT WAS A NIGHTMARE THAT CAME TO FRUITION TO ME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. IT INTERRUPTED MY SLEEP CYCLE. BUT THAT HAPPENS ONCE IN A WHILE.

TED SIMONS: THERE'S YOUR BUDDY, AL FRANKEN.

STEVE BENSON: YOU KNOW THERE’S A REAL QUICK STORY BEHIND THIS. I DREW HIM AS FRANKENSTEIN, YOU KNOW, WITH THE LITTLE PEGS COMING OUT OF HIS NECK AND THEN TRUMP CAME OUT AND CALLED HIM FRANKENSTEIN IN A TWEET AND HE SAID THERE IS NO WAY THAT I'M GOING TO BE ACCUSED OF PLAGIARIZING THE PRESIDENT.

TED SIMONS: I THINK IT'S REALLY INTERESTING THAT YOU AND THE PRESIDENT THINK ALONG THE SAME LINES.

WELL, OK, DON'T TELL TRUMP THAT, HE WILL HAVE US BOTH THROWN IN GUANTANAMO.

TED SIMONS: CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFINGS. OK, I ACTUALLY CHUCKLED WHEN I FIRST SAW THAT ONE.

STEVE BENSON: PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS A FLAG OF SURRENDER.

TED SIMONS: DID THEY REALLY?

STEVE BENSON: YEAH AND SO I PLAYED AROUND WITH IT-

TED SIMONS: DID THEY REALIZE WHAT IT WAS?

STEVE BENSON: I MADE HIM GREEN, THEN I MADE HIM PURPLE. AND NO IT'S THE TIGHTY WHITEYS MAN THAT YOU HAVE TO GO WITH.

TED SIMONS: KEEPING IT CLOSE TO HOME, THERE’S REPRESENTATIVE DON SHOOTER.

STEVE BENSON: DON SHOOTER, I’LL TELL YOU, IT'S JUST KIND OF CREEPY WHAT'S GOING ON. AND THEY SAY THE BIGGER THEY ARE, THE HARDER THEY FALL. THESE GUYS AREN’T EVEN BIG. THEY ARE MENTAL MIDGETS. AND GOSH, I LOVE THE WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE BROKEN THROUGH THE DOME CEILING. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING? ITS WAY OVER DUE. THIS CULTURE OF-

TED SIMONS: TELL ME THE TRUTH, DID YOU KNOW WHO DON SHOOTER WAS BEFORE ALL OF THIS?

STEVE BENSON: UH, FRAWN BOOTER?

TED SIMONS: HERE WE GO, ACTUALLY, THERE IS NO HA HA MOMENT HERE. THIS UNFORTUNATE IS APP ROE PO

STEVE BENSON: RIGHT AND WE’RE BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND FINALLY WHAT THE ISRAELIS AND WHAT THE EUROPEANS HAVE BEEN RELENTLESSLY SUBJECTED TO AND IT BECOMES A MATTER OF COURSE AND WE SHOULD NEVER LET DOWN OUR COURSE BUT WE SHOULD NEVER LET DOWN OUR GUARD. BUT NONETHELESS ITS BECOMING A WAY OF LIFE. I MEAN SHIMON PERES HAS SAID TO HAVE WARN THAT EVENTUALLY TARIFFS WILL LEARN HOW TO CROSS THE OCEAN AND THEY YOU’RE GOING TO BE EXPERIENCING WHAT WE EXPERIENCE EVERYDAY.

TED SIMONS: WELL, THERE IS A WAY TO FIGHT TERRORISM OF COURSE, BUT YOU SUGGEST THE PRESIDENT IS NOT IT.

STEVE BENSON: HE'S THEIR MAIN RECRUITING POSTER. THEY OUGHT TO LIKE HAVING ARMY, NAVY, AND MARINES. HE'S THE ONE THAT RALLIES THEM AND INSPIRES THEM IN THE MAGAZINES AND RECRUITMENT EFFORTS TO JOIN UP AND FIGHT.

TED SIMONS: DID YOU GET MUCH RESPONSE FROM READERS ON THIS ONE?

STEVE BENSON: UH, NO I DID NOT. BUT THERE’S BOUND TO BE AN ISIS SALE SOMEWHERE AROUND HERE.

TED SIMONS: NO I JUST WANTED- COMPARING HIM WITH ISIS AT ALL. HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

STEVE BENSON: STEVE BENSON: OH REALLY? HE DOESN'T ACT LIKE IT.

TED SIMONS: I HAVE HEARD THAT, YES. OK HERE WE GO WITH-

STEVE BENSON: HE BIGGEST EVERY CROWD!

TED SIMONS: THE BIGGEST EVER CROWD, YES.

STEVE BENSON: THE BIGGEST CROWDS EVER. MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ON THE DAY HE WAS INAUGURATED, SOAKING IN THE ROAR OF THE CROWD OR CRICKETS OR WHATEVER HE WAS HEARING.

TED SIMONS: I TALKED ABOUT TRUMP BEING YOUR PRESIDENT. YOU KIND OF SCOFFED OR CHAFED AT THAT. AND THERE YOU GO, LOOK AT THIS.

STEVE BENSON: YOU KNOW, PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE, MY CRITICS DON’T UNDERSTAND, THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY AND THE PRESIDENT. YOU CAN RESPECT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY AND DESPISE THE PRESIDENT. IT'S BECAUSE I RESPECT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY THAT I DESPISE DONALD TRUMP. I THINK HE IS INCOMPETENT, UNEDUCATED, AND UNCURIOUS, AND GUILTY OF IMPEACHMENT OR WORTHY OF IT.

TED SIMONS: ONE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES OVER AT THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, AND I WONT NAME WHO THIS IS BECAUSE IT’S A COLLEAGUE AND I THINK IT WAS SAID JUST IN CONVERSATION, COMPARES PRESIDENT TRUMP TO PUNK ROCK. WELL, WORK WITH ME HERE BECAUSE I DIDN'T BUY IT THIS ONE AT ALL, BUT I WANT TO KNOW IF I’M MISSING SOMETHING HERE. BECAUSE I WAS VERY MUCH INTERESTED IN PUNK ROCK AND HOW IT SHOOK UP ROCK 'N' ROLL. IT SHOOK UP MUSIC AND FASHION AND THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. BUT HE’S LIKE PUNK ROCK FOR POLITICS, HE’S UPENDING EVERYTHING, LEFT, RIGHT, CENTER. ALL POINTS IN BETWEEN. YOU BUYING THAT?

STEVE BENSON: I THINK HE EXPERIENCES PERSONAL JOY IN DOING THAT. I THINK HES A CONGENITAL DISRUPTER. THAT'S WHAT HE LIKES TO DO. BUT THERE'S NO RHYME OR REASON TO IT AND NO ALONG VISION. HE DOESN'T PUT THINGS IN CONTEXT. HE DOESN'T KNOW HIS HISTORY. THERES MAYBE LIKE- I THOUGHT GEORGE BUSH DIDN'T READ MUCH. ATLEAST BUSH HAD ONE BOOK IN HIS LIBRARY. I DON'T THINK THAT TRUMP READS AT ALL. AND I JUST THINK HE'S FUNDAMENTALLY ILL EQUIPPED. AND I THINK THAT ITS GOING TO EITHER BE IMPEACHMENT OR SHOULD BE THE 25TH AMENDMENT.

TED SIMONS: SO IT'S NOT DISRUPTION SO MUCH WITH HIM, ITS DISRUPTION WITHOUT ANY FORM, FASHION, OR REASON?

STEVE BENSON: RIGHT AND WHAT IT DOES IS IT DRAWS ATTENTION TO HIM. AND I THINK HE'S WOEFULLY INSECURE. AND THAT’S WHY HE DOES- EVERYDAY, HE HAS TO STIR UP SOMETHING IN ORDER TO BRING HIM TO CENTER STAGE AGAIN.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT SO I KNOW YOU TALKED ABOUT IMPEACHMENT OR THE 25TH AMENDMENT. THERE HE GOES LEAVING ALLAH NIXON.

STEVE BENSON: BOY, THAT'S AN ORIGINAL IDEA, ISN'T IT? BUT I TRIED TO CAPTURE NIXON'S NOSE.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GOING TO SAY, THAT FACE LOOKS WEIRD. THAT’S A-

STEVE BENSON: PUDDING FACE

TED SIMONS: THAT'S A WEIRD LOOKING FACE FOR TRUMP.

STEVE BENSON: ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S HEAD ON.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, THE PRESIDENT LOOKS -- LITTLE FINGERS THOUGH, LITTLE HANDS. THAT’S A CHEAP SHOT ISNT IT? THAT’S AN EASY LAUGH.

STEVE BENSON: THAT’S EASY. BUT IT'S A LOT EASIER TO DRAW LITTLE HANDS THAN HIS GINORMOUS EGO. I WOULD SPEND ALL DAY AND ONLY GET LIKE A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH HIS EGO. WITH THE HANDS – BAM

TED SIMONS: HERE HE IS-BOY, THIS MUST HAVE TAKEN A LONG TIME TO DRAW. LOOK AT THE INTRICACY THERE.

STEVE BENSON: OH MY GOSH, I MEAN THIS WAS MOUNT GROPEMORE NUMBER ONE. IT JUST TOOK FOREVER TO DRAW THIS, BUT UH-

TED SIMONS: THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN TELL IT'S THE PRESIDENT IS BECAUSE OF THE HAIR.

STEVE BENSON: WELL YOU KNOW, HANNIBAL ELECTOR HAD THAT MASK TO KEEP HIM FROM BITING OTHER PEOPLE.

TED SIMONS: THE NEXT ONE IS SQUEEZE PLAY. WE KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON HERE.

STEVE BENSON: I KNOW THIS KIND OF STUFF DRIVES THE TRUMP PEOPLE NUTS. BUT WHAT CAN I SAY?

TED SIMONS: THIS NEXT ONE, I WOULD THINK THIS DRIVES THE TRUMP PEOPLE EVEN MORE NUTS. THE IDEA THAT HE IS A PUPPET OF VLADIMIR PUTIN.

STEVE BENSON: I’LL TELL YOU MAN, WE GOT SOME INFORMATION ON THAT WAS BEING LEAKED BY THE SPECIAL COUNCIL, THAT WIKILEAKS WAS FUNNELING STUFF TO DONALD JUNIOR WHO WAS EMAILING HIS DAD AND SAYING GUESS WHAT I GOT. I GOT THE GOODS ON HILLARY CLINTON. AND WIKI LEAPED AND 15 MINUTES LATER DONALD SENIOR SAYS WE NEED TO TAKE WIKILEAKS SERIOUSLY. THIS IS ALL STARTING TO COME TOGETHER. YOU GOT TWO OF HIS TOP AIDES YOU KNOW, HAVE BEEN INDICTED AND TWO OTHERS CONFESSED TO LYING TO THE FBI. HE’S NOW, MUELLER IS NOW INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE. I’M HIDING IN THE VENTS DON.

TED SIMONS: LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, MORE OF THE SAME HERE. MORE OF THE SAME HERE. MORE OF THE SAME VARIATIONS ON A THEME.

STEVE BENSON: SOVIET RED. THIS ONE KIND OF TURNED OUT SOVIET ORANGE.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS THE ONE WHERE THE HANDS -- YOU REALLY WENT FOR IT WITH THE HANDS HERE.

STEVE BENSON: WELL, YOU KNOW I THINK THAT THESE HANDS ARE CLEARLY NOT ABLE TO WRAP AROUND THE ISSUES OF THE DAY.

TED SIMONS: TRICK OR TWEET.

STEVE BENSON: YEAH, I MEAN METAPHOR. MY GOSH. HE'S NOW EDITING EDITORIALS THAT APPEAR IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE VERSIONS-HE’S WRITING THEM OUT. AND THE JUDGE SAYS I'M NOT GOING TO PUNISH YOU, BUT QUIT DOING THAT. YOU ARE UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

TED SIMONS: AND OUR LAST CARTOON TO LOOK AT REGARDS THE FIRES IN CALIFORNIA. GOODNESS GRACIOUS. THOSE THINGS ARE SOMETHING.

STEVE BENSON: THERE IS A HOT DRY WEATHER SYSTEM SITTING OUT IN THE OCEAN- THE PACIFIC AND THE SANTA ANNA WINDS COMBINED WITH THAT ARE CREATING THE NEW NORMAL, AND EVEN ANTI-CLIMATE CHANGERS ARE BEGINNING TO REALIZE THIS IS A LONG-TERM PHENOMENA.

TED SIMONS: WHEN YOU DRAW THE CARTOONS, WE GOT A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT HERE. WHO DO YOU DRAW THEM FOR? ARE THEY FOR YOU? ARE THEY FOR ME? ARE THEY FOR A GENERIC SOMEONE OUT THERE IN THE ETHER?

STEVE BENSON: THEY ARE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS WHO HAVE NO TASTE. I DRAW THEM ACTUALLY -- I DRAW THEM FOR THE PROFESSION. I KNOW THAT SOUNDS SILLY BUT-

TED SIMONS: YOUR FELLOW CARTOONISTS?

STEVE BENSON: I DRAW FOR THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSE IN HISTORY THAT BACK UP AND PROVIDE THE FOUNDATION FOR WHAT WE DO. IT'S OUR JOB IN A FREE SOCIETY TO CALL THE OLOGUARDS, THE AUTO KARATES AND MALFEASANCE CREATORS ON THE CARPET. I TRY TO DO MY BEST JOB TO LEAD THE READER THROUGH A VISUAL PATH. I TRY TO MAKE SOMETHING A STATEMENT. I DON’T WANT TO BE JUST A YUCK YUCK CARTOONIST. BUT YOU KNOW, FOR A LOT OF MY CRITICS, I'M AN UP CHUCK CARTOONIST. BUT I THINK WE OUGHT TO USE HUMOR ON OCCASION AND SOMETIMES WE SHOULDN'T. IT DEPDNDS ON THE ISSUE.

TED SIMONS: REAL QUICKLY HERE BEFORE WE GO. HAVE YOU LOST FRIENDS BECAUSE OF YOUR STANCE ON DONALD TRUMP?

STEVE BENSON: I LOST -- RELATIVES OVER IT. THEY INVITED ME TO THANKSGIVING DINNER AND THEN THEY DISINVITED ME AND IT MADE THE "NEW YORK TIMES." ON DONALD TRUMP, I GET INTO ARGUMENTS AT FAMILY REUNIONS. AND THAT’S NOT GOOD. MOST OF MY FAMILY TENDS TO BE GENETICALLY REPUBLICAN AND WE'LL LEAVE AT THAT.

TED SIMONS: IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. CONGRATULATIONS ON ANTOHER YEAR OF GREAT WORK. WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT YEAR. GOODNESS KNOWS WHAT NEXT YEAR WILL BRING.

STEVE BENSON: WELL WE HAVE THE 2018 ELECTIONS COMING UP. THEN I'LL BE TRUMP FREE AFTER THAT OR MAYBE SOONER.

TED SIMONS: OK THANK YOU, STEVE BENSON. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. IM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. ¶ ¶

Steve Benson: Cartoonist, Arizona Republic

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