Helen Cochran of Citizens for Better Education commissioned a series of political cartoons concerning the Wichita school bond issue. She’s paid to have them printed in the Wichita Eagle each Monday for the past month or so. They’re also carried on her group’s web site.
But the Wichita Eagle refused to run this week’s cartoon. Here it is:
I spoke with Helen and asked her a few questions about the Eagle’s refusal to print this cartoon.
Q. What did the Wichita Eagle give as their reason for not accepting this advertisement? Who made this decision? Who communicated it to you?
A. Citizens for Better Education has been running paid political weekly cartoons for 6 weeks now. They are wholesome and poke fun in a light-hearted way. None have been mean-spirited. I usually give a final approval by noon on Fridays for a Monday publication to my Eagle sales rep. My advertising sales person told me on Friday afternoon that this cartoon would not be approved if she sent it through. I was flabbergasted and told her to send it through. It took correspondence between four people including the editor and publisher and I was finally told no.
Their reasoning was “letting an outside group attack one of our staff members.” They went on to say that on the one hand, this is what Richard Crowson did — in fact he ran a very mean spirited cartoon against me early on. Nevertheless, the Eagle has run our cartoons for six weeks, they have taken our money, and then at the eleventh hour says no they won’t run this one because it pokes fun at McCormick. And I had no finished back up cartoon to run in its place, so CBE lost its weekly cartoon. I was under the false impression, as an ex journalism major, that advertising and news departments operated independently of one another. Well, not so at the Wichita Eagle. They can dish it out but can’t take it.
Q. Does the cartoon make any claims that are not factual?
A. It is common knowledge that Mark McCormick is 100% in support of this bond as is the entire Eagle editorial board. He has written extensively in his column about it and has devoted three or four columns to it. It is disappointing that although he’s been corrected on some of the information he has used in error, despite being asked, by me, to correct it, he has failed to do so.
Q. Your cartoon makes the case that Mark McCormick is a cheerleader for the bond issue. Do you think he weighs both sides of the bond issue, or is he in fact a cheerleader?
A. He is a cheerleader to the “nth” degree as his support is purely emotional. And that’s fine, but he has done nothing to back up his reasons for support other than all the warm and fuzzy reactionary feelings. He has done little if any investigative reporting and that is very disappointing. He takes the Wichita school district at its word despite facts to the contrary.