Politicians often use their children in marketing campaigns, which some believe makes them fair game for criticism. One of the Washington Post‘s editorial cartoonists clearly felt this way, so she included presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s two young daughters in a cartoon, depicting them as monkeys.
After complaints from Cruz on Twitter and elsewhere about this being a low blow, however, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, removed the cartoon and said in a note on the paper’s website that it was inappropriate.
The cartoon, drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes, showed Cruz in a Santa costume cranking an old-fasioned music box, with his two young daughters as dancing monkeys dressed in elf costumes.
The cartoonist said in a note that originally appeared with the cartoon that by using his children “as political props” in a video ad that ran during an episode of Saturday Night Live, the senator had made them “fair game” for editorial criticism.
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In addition to criticizing the cartoon on Twitter, Cruz also sent out a special campaign fundraising email to his supporters that complained about the representation of his daughters. “I knew I’d be facing attacks from day one of my campaign, but I never expected anything like this,” Cruz said, according to a report on NBC. “Help me send a message to the Washington Post. My daughters are NOT FAIR GAME!”
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Two of Cruz’s opponents for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, also posted messages on Twitter saying they thought the Post’s cartoon was unfair. But Telnaes defended her decision:
A number of people pointed out in response to Telnaes’ tweet that most newspapers leave President Barack Obama’s daughters out of their political criticism and editorial cartoons, even though they regularly appear with the president at political events. Some political commentators also noted that the cartoon likely gave Cruz even more ammunition to argue that the mainstream media is out to get him.