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Posted at 11:01 AM ET, 04/26/2010

Fiore's Wake: Political cartoonists force the issue with Apple's apps

By Michael Cavna


Political cartoonists are trying to strike while the irony's hot.

Cartoonists have famously struggled to have their politically themed apps approved by Apple -- until their political point about censorship of satire itself becomes so glaring that Steve Jobs sometimes relents.

We saw this occur last year with the informational "Bobble Rep" app that features Tom Richmond's caricatures of congressional representatives -- after the negative publicity, Apple did a 180. And we saw this play out again this month, of course, when Mark Fiore's Pulitzer win spurred Apple to reconsider his "NewsToons" app that was rejected in December.

Now, political syndicator Daryl Cagle and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists hope to force the issue.

Late last week, the AAEC alerted Comic Riffs that it has sent an open letter to Steve Jobs -- titled "A Call to Apple to Support Free Speech."

The letter introduces the issue by saying:
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists would like to commend Apple for approving Mark Fiore's app, "NewsToons" (which incidentally became the top selling news app in less than 48 hours). Ironically, Apple rejected this very app as "objectionable" until Mr. Fiore received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and considerable media attention. We hope other apps that focus on politics and satire do not have to wait for a Pulitzer Prize before they are approved by Apple.

And over the weekend, Cagle alerted Comic Riffs that his Tiger Woods iPhone app has been rejected by Apple. On his blog, Cagle has titled his post: "Apple: You Can Ridicule Obama, but Don't Bash Tiger Woods"

Cagle writes on his blog:
Should newspaper editorial cartoonists be banned from drawing cartoons about some selected, famous people? Many believe we should not be allowed to draw the Prophet Muhammad - but how about banning us from drawing Tiger Woods? If Apple has its way, iPhone users won't see cartoonists commenting about Tiger, and other topics that might ridicule selected public figures.

By contrast to the Tiger app, Cagle says that "Apple approved our 'msnbc.com Obama Cartoons' app that shows the latest newspaper editorial cartoons drawn about President Obama."

Comic Riffs of course will follow these two case studies as they unfold. Meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on whether Apple should continue to censor political satire.


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By Michael Cavna  | April 26, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  Geek Buzz, The Political Cartoon  | Tags:  App Store, Apple, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Daryl Cagle, IPhone, Mark Fiore, Pulitzer Prize, Steve Jobs  
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Comments

"after the negative publicity, Apple did a 360."
I guess so, since they later banned other political apps.

Posted by: wiredog | April 26, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Clearly I am doing something wrong. I am the editorial cartoonist for The Economist. I had my cartoon app approved by Apple about 4 weeks ago (just before the Fiore ordeal). It has over 150 satirical cartoons that target Obama, Bush and a slew of international figures. Yet somehow it was not rejected by the satire filter at Apple. Was I not scathing enough? Do I need to draw my noses bigger? Improve my trenchant-to-humor ratio? Does getting a iPhone app mean I am a failure? Maybe if I re-submit my app with some deeply unpleasant cartoons I can hope for a better outcome... Kal

Posted by: kaltoons | April 27, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

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