Just when you thought the divide between some in the media and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office couldn’t get much worse, the media took it up another notch when an editorial cartoonist depicted the Governor’s press secretary in what many are calling a “sexist” and “misogynistic” manner.
Republicans and Democrats are calling foul. Even Gannett, the publisher of the cartoonist’s paper, is backing away.
Recently, a public brouhaha broke out between the Associated Press (AP) and the Governor’s Office over a story about DeSantis and his promotion of a COVID treatment. DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw took the AP reporter to the virtual woodshed for what she called a misleading “hit piece” on the Governor. Angry letters were then fired off on both sides, with the AP defending the story and the Governor defending his staff’s response.
Tuesday, Pushaw found herself the target of an editorial cartoon that even Democrats are calling out of bounds.
Andy Marlette, an editorial cartoonist with the Pensacola News Journal, penned a cartoon of Pushaw on a satirical Cosmo-like magazine cover as a “COVID-19 Covergirl” and taxpayer-funded “Twitter troll.” The cover features “Three cosmetic enhancements to conceal inner ugliness” and “how bitterness and cynicism can hide your boss’ inadequacies.”
Marlette posted it on Twitter, setting off a firestorm.
Gannett, the publishers of the Pensacola News Journal, distanced itself from the cartoon in a statement to The Capitolist.
“Editorial cartoons are intended to spark debate and discussion about public figures and matters via pointed, satirical commentary. We take seriously our policy not to publish material that is sexist, racist or discriminatory and we constantly evaluate our editing process to ensure our standards are met. This cartoon has not published in any of our newspapers or on our websites and is being reviewed,” Amalie Nash, SVP Local News, USA TODAY Network said.
“It is outrageous that a caricaturist at the Pensacola News Journal uses a sexist, portrayal of a professional woman to make a political point. Because the caricature is misogynist, Andy Marlette really exposes his short comings. Women know that they are judged differently from men, especially in terms of appearance, in the professional workplace. Men can be bald, fat, have hairy ears and eyebrows, but that is rarely highlighted, which is the way it should be. You can disagree with her politics or delivery, but in 2021, it is unconscionable that a female press secretary is featured as a Barbie doll rather than the professional she is,” said, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida.
Florida State Representative Alex Andrade, R-Pensalcola, said on Twitter, “Christina Pushaw is owed an apology for the blatant sexism of this cartoon. This double standard for objectification against conservative women is appalling.”
But even Democrats were appalled.
Anna V. Eskamani said, after The Capitolist emailed her the cartoon, “My first time seeing it. Even if you disagree with her, there should not be commentary that focuses on (or emphasizes) appearance. It distracts from legitimate concerns everyday people have and feeds into a misogynistic environment that women face in politics every single day,”.
Democrat Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is running for Governor against DeSantis, but even her campaign spokesman, Kevin Cate called for the “sexist” cartoon to be deleted.
“There is a political cartoon circulating around in Florida that’s inappropriate at best and sexist at worst. Delete it,” Cate tweeted.