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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 01/10/2011

The Morning Line: Arizona cartoonist apologizes for Tucson tragedy remarks on CNN

By Michael Cavna


GALLERY: Nation's cartoonists respond to the Tucson shooting

fitzgifford.jpg (Cartoon: David Fitzsimmons / courtesy of cagle.com)

Within hours of the tragedy, Arizona Daily Star editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons apologized for his politically charged remarks.

Fitzsimmons was on the scene Saturday at the Tucson shopping center after a shooting rampage left six dead and Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among 14 others injured.

Fitzsimmons reportedly told CNN in the aftermath: "I'm pretty shaken frankly. This is a very surreal, dream-like experience. As a columnist who's covered politics in this state, it was inevitable from my perspective." According to the Daily Star, the cartoonist "viewed the shooting as inevitable in a state with an intense gun culture and politics that are to the rabid right."

Fitzsimmons -- who within hours posted a cartoon about the day's violence -- was among those commentators who immediately reached to put the shooting within a larger political context. "The right in Arizona, and I'm speaking very broadly, has been stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage successfully in this state," he reportedly told CNN. "It's stunning because Congressman Giffords was a centrist, a moderate, and I don't know who the shooter is, but what could possibly motivate an individual to be enraged enough take down a moderate centrist."

In his apology Saturday, Fitzsimmons -- who considers Giffords a friend -- said in a statement:

"Today I have offended many with my emotional, partisan and inappropriate remarks, broadcast on CNN, regarding the horror of this day. As Congresswoman Giffords battles for her life let us join in prayer for her, for the dead and for the injured. Reflecting on the moment, I know my remarks would have disappointed Congresswoman Giffords, a public servant who is admired for her nonpartisan, gracious and intelligent approach to public discourse."

In issuing the apology, the Daily Star wrote: "Columnists are human and have strong and immediate reactions to awful news, but those are best kept private until facts are known. As Fitzsimmons acknowledged on CNN, he wasn't reporting and didn't know at the time who the shooter was or his motivation."

ELSEWHERE: In response to the shooting, a Heavy Ink comics retailer who blogs as "TJICistan" posted about targeting other members of Congress, sparking heated controversy reports Bleeding Cool.

By Michael Cavna  | January 10, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line, The Political Cartoon  | Tags:  David Fitzsimmons  
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Next: TUCSON TRAGEDY: Nation's cartoonists respond to the shooting [UPDATED]

Comments

Sounds like it was an "apologize or be fired" situation. A man with real balls wouldn't have. That said, I probably would have. You know how hard it is to make money as a cartoonist?

I just have hope now that this is the beginning of the end for the radical right. Maybe they'll fade from the mainstream a little. Palin's show was canceled, she's a pariah right now. She makes a nice little gaffe re: the shooting or otherwise and maybe in 6 months EVERYONE will see Palin 2012 as a joke (not just me and hippie ilk).

Posted by: boxbrown | January 10, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Fitzsimmons is not a reporter; he is an editorial cartoonist. As such, isn't he **supposed** to be "emotional" and perhaps "partisan" in what he says (and draws), even if some readers find it "inappropriate"? Why should he apologize for simply doing his job? It certainly seems as if his only offense was to espouse an editorial opinion that was his own and (apparently) not approved by the Daily Star.

Posted by: seismic-2 | January 11, 2011 1:37 AM | Report abuse

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