* Buffalo News Editorial Cartoonist “comforts the afflicted” and “afflicts the comfortable”
It certainly is a shame that the editorial board of the Buffalo News fails to consistently embrace the adage adhered to by its Pulitzer Prize winning pictorial journalist, Adam Zyglis: “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.” Here are but a few examples:
– While the newspaper’s editorial board increasingly minimized the ethical shortcomings of Andrew Cuomo as the November 2014 elections approached, and wholeheartedly endorsed New York’s governor for re-election, Adam’s July 25, 2014 cartoon depicted a politician unworthy of the job of governor – a reeking Andrew Cuomo as a janitor “CLEANING UP ALBANY” with a mop that had been soiled by a dip in the “Moreland Commission” bucket.
Note: The headline for editorial published by the Buffalo News on the same day as Adam’s July 25th masterpiece expressed the appropriate tone: “Same old same old – Shameful meddling by Cuomo’s office short-circuited corruption investigation.” But a mere five days later, on July 30, 2014, the newspaper’s editorial board started its backpedaling, expressing the following sentiment:
… [Y]es, Cuomo really pushed some worthwhile changes. But corruption remains a problem in New York, and a significant one. The governor should do more, if nothing else for political self-protection…
By August 18, 2014, the Buffalo News editorial blamed Albany’s “culture of corruption” on “voter indifference,” reiterated Gov. Cuomo’s strenuous denial of any interference with the Moreland Commission, and proclaimed that “it is not fair to voters, taxpayers and all residents of New York to have even a faint cloud of doubt hanging out the head of their governor.”
When it came time for the Buffalo News to announce its endorsement for the gubernatorial race, its editorial board unhesitatingly anointed the incumbent and gushed: “New York has never seen a Democratic governor the likes of Andrew M. Cuomo… [H]e is surely the best friend Western New York has ever had in the governor’s office.” Reference to the Governor’s ethical shortcomings was relegated to the second-last paragraph in an 831-word editorial:
“Yes , we wish he had handled the Moreland Commission issue better. He should have left the anti-corruption panel in place instead of cutting it off, mid-investigation…”
If the Buffalo News truly desired a corruption-free Albany, it would have acknowledged the fact that Cuomo’s ethical breaches go well beyond the questions raised by the Governor’s handling of the Moreland Commission. [See, for example, my August 21, 2014 post entitled, “Cuomo’s Approach to ‘Peace Bridge Expansion’ Reveals Pattern of Deception, Abuse of Power“.] More importantly, its editorial board would have urged the voters not to re-elect a person who, to paraphrase the newspaper’s July 25, 2014 editorial, is more than willing to “swim in the same polluted waters as everyone else in Albany.”
– The the Buffalo News editorial board has failed for years to fight for the families living near the Peace Bridge who are chronically sickened by the fumes that emanate from the trucks using the international crossing. The goal of an iconic bridge or a new and expanded plaza has always taken precedence over human health and environmental justice. In sharp contrast, the poignant June 9, 2013 cartoon penned by Mr. Zyglis told it like it is (amidst a cloud of vehicular exhaust): “PEACE BRIDGE TOLLS: Cars $3; Buses $11; Trucks $6-53; WEST SIDE RESIDENTS – ASTHMA.”
Note: Perhaps it is merely a coincidence, but Adam’s June 9, 2013 “Toll Booth” cartoon is not included in the Buffalo News collection of the Pulitzer Prize winner’s illustrations. It’s absence is odd given the April 26, 2015 invitation from Mike Connelly, the Buffalo News Editor, “to view all of Zyglis’ cartoons, going back to his eight-grade [sic] contest winner, go to buffalonews.com/zyglis.” [Nonetheless, for a view of a prime example of Adam living up to the above-quoted journalistic standard, click here.]
– In contrast to the editors’ cheerleading in support of the threats and embarrassing hard-ball tactics used by Andrew Cuomo in his efforts to get his way with the Peace Bridge Authority’s Canadian members, Adam’s June 21, 2013 portrayal of Gov. Cuomo as a military general maneuvering his tanks and artillery across a “Peace Bridge” chess board accurately captured the New York governor’s “diplomatic style” for what it is, unrelenting bullying. [And, here’s another example of Cuomo’s brand of diplomacy.]
Note: Calling him “Governor Disruption,” the June 27, 2013 Buffalo News editorial embarrassingly praises Andrew Cuomo for his willingness “to disrupt long-standing patterns of behavior … by acquiring a crowbar – of the metaphorical kind – and being prepared to use it.” Unfortunately, New York’s governor was willing to bully the Canadian members of the Peace Bridge Authority regardless of the legality or propriety of the methods being used. See, for example, an op-ed piece that I wrote for ArtVoice entitled, “‘King Andrew’ – sixty years too late to control New York/Canadian border.“
– While the newspaper’s editorial board joined the media frenzy in full-throated support of the Verizon Wireless proposal for a massive data center in an unlikely and ill-suited farm field in Niagara County’s Town of Somerset, Adam’s November 19, 2010 editorial depicted a smirking, giant-sized Verizon agent loudly proclaiming, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD.”, while his front pocket bulges with dollar bills and a “NY GOV’T” official giving the “thumbs up” sign. [See former Buffalo News Staff Reporter James Heaney’s November 10, 2010 report, “Deep pockets help Verizon promote its interests – Company’s lobbying clout eyed as key to subsidy deal.]
Adam, congratulations, and thank you for never pulling your punches!
With All Due Respect (and, much is due)