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tv   American Artifacts Herblock Political Cartoons  CSPAN  December 26, 2019 5:23pm-6:02pm EST

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2019 c-span winner. i am here tone courage you to wrap up this competition as the deadline is getting pretty close. don't worry, you still have time. this is actually about the time i started filming my documentary the first year i entered it. i'm in the d.c. offices right now and i'm here to tell you that c-span was an incredible opportunity for me to express my thoughts and views about the political climate in the current day as well as connect with some local and state leaders in political office. i'm extremely excited that you all are interested in this and are pursuing this because it's a once in a life time opportunity and i am so excited that you're taking it. >> there's still time to enter the competition and you have, and to explore the issue during campaign 2020. we're giving away $100,000 in cash prizes with a grand prize of $5,000. for more information go to our website,
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each week, american artifacts takes view ers around the country. herbert block, known as her block. the cartoons are featured in the white house historical association. herblock's career stood years. sarah duke talked about his influence and legacy and showed us many of his cartoons and many on exhibit in the gallery. >> herb block was a midwestern cartoonist and began his career in 1929, six months before the great depression.
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he was a moderate conservative and not left, left, and it pushed him more to the center by the great depression and the injustice of world war ii. in 1933 he joined the scripts howard company and the enterprise association which was situated in cleveland, ohio and then in 1946, right after the second world war he joined the washington post where he spent the rest of his career and he died about six weeks after his last cartoon appeared in the washington post. his last cartoon appeared on august 26, 2001, and he died just a week shy of his 92nd birthday in october. the library of congress has the herb block collection. we have 14,360 of his editorial cartoons and we have nearly all
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of the work he produced for kwaet the washington post." he did give cartoons to friends but we do have the majority of his art work. he drew cartoons from hoof tore george w. bush and you get to see how his career evolved and how his opinions changed and how he drew particular presidents and obviously i brought out a selection of cartoons to give a sense of how he perceived certain presidents. >> the first cartoon is herbert hoover which was the first that mr. block covered and it shows hoover at the rapidan camp, and hoover further down in the shenandoah mountains in rapidan, virginia, and so mr. block has depicted hoover leading a couple
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of capitalists to his camp and they're fishing and then instead of giving economic benefits perhaps in the form of cash incentives, the capitalists get fresh fish to sell and it's a pen and ink style. it's on a very smooth board and this is very typical of what would have been produced in the midwest at this point in time. so the second cartoon i've brought out today is about fdr, franklin delano roosevelt and mr. block has not yet come to a point where he's embracing the democratic party yet. so what you're seeing is a cartoon that makes fun of roosevelt for being unable to add additional supreme court justices to, therefore, force
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congress to implement his plans to improve the economy. of course, we know that ultimately roosevelt prevailed and the new deal passed, but block is making fun of him for wasting time when he could have been passing legislation by trying to implement the court plan by adding six more justices to the court. here we have both candidates for president in 1948. truman and dewey, gesturing to a man who looks like a typical character that mr. block drew to show respectable southern gentleman, and he also represents congress, and block is upset about the changes in the immigration plans in the
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aftermath of world war ii. mr. block was very much in favor of letting displaced people emigrate to the united states and so he is showing his disapproval of congress' new immigration plan by depicting the statue of liberty, pushing people away from the shores rather than embracing their arrival. this is a cartoon about president eisenhower and he's castigating mr. block thinks a little too gently, mccarthy and nixon with a smear campaign against madeline stevenson just days away from the presidential election and what you need to been this cartoon is it did not run in "the washington post." the post pulled the cartoon because it was a pro-eisenhower paper, and mr. block was
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pro-stevenson and very admantd about that with his cartoons and they felt that mr. block's opinion of eisenhower failing to control mccarthy and nixon went too far, and perhaps persuaded voters not to vote for him and it did run in the areas where mr. block was syndicated and the other newspapers, what you also need ton about this cartoon is that washington post readers missed it. they knew a cartoon had appeared elsewhere and it hadn't appeared in the hometown paper and they were angry, and the washington post ran every single cartoon that mr. block chose to draw after that. he had a lot of power at the post as a cartoonist. we can see that mr. block's art style has evolved from the midwestern-type pen and ink drawing to a very loose drawing
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style, but much more loose he uses a lot of graphite and ink brush and he's using a stipple board and it grabs the pencil and gives it nice texture. he used white out both as a way to control his mistakes and also to enhance his image. so, for example, on this canoe being guided by president kennedy, he's got budget written in white out on top of the ink and pencil so that it stands out in his cartoon. ken w kennedy was hard for most cartoonists to draw and he was a rather handsome fellow and even in 1962 they hadn't found, like, big ears or big nose or something that stood out to make
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him look funny, and so he's k k of looks generically handsome for the entirety of his administration. that doesn't mean that mr. block didn't find faults to pick with him and in this particular cartoon is about the kennedy administration's desire to implement tax cuts, but to end some special privileges for people who had benefited from special tax cuts. next, we have lyndon baines johnson. bl block admired his war on poverty and not his war on vietnam and this particular cartoon is we've shown that we're willing to go more than half way.
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what mr. johnson had intended was we are willing to negotiate terms of peace with north vietnam, but as mr. block showed was half way up the vietnamese country. if you read "the washington post" between 72 and 1974 between the time the watergate scandal broke out and the time president nixon resigned, you opened the pages to see 174 cartoons attacking the president on watergate alone. he had drawn nixon coming out of a sewer during the eisenhower administration and with the exception of the free shave he gave him as a newly elected
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president which is now in the collection of "the washington post," he never relented and he did not see a good side to richard nixon which doesn't mean that he attacked him blindly. it meant he had real issues with some of the things whether it be corruption or wiretapping or things he just liked and he felt it was his job as a cartoonist to express his opinion and to share it with others, and that's the basic role of an editorial cartoon is to express an opinion and persuade people to your point of view and a good cartoonist does more than just illustrate the news, he gets his point across or she gets her point across. so here we have nixon throwing some tapes to an investigator
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who is represented by a hound dog, a bloodhound trying to throw a few reels away while still clutching, perhaps the most important evidence against him. and you can see the bones of some of his indicted conspirators left behind by the bloodhound. when it came to jimmy carter herb block saw him as a pretty ineffectual leader and it shows carter banging on his own presidential desk for refusing to take a leadership role. there's, you know, that's the most i can say about that particular cartoon is that it's just what a better way to show
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that someone is completely ineffectual at their job rather than show him behind the desk and herbert lawrence block was born in 1909 in chicago, and by the time he started drawing editorial cartoons as a teenager, he was known as herb and it doesn't take long to figure out if you say herb block, you might as well be saying herblock. that's how he became to be known as herblock and he really is herb block. he was not a big fan of ronald reagan. his moderate conservative chicago sensibility as a child, the way his parents brought him up was to take care of the poor. he had to look out for the little guy, and what he saw in ronald reagan was somebody who
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was turning a blind eye to the poverty and hunger and other issues that were happening in the united states in the 1980s and so we have a depiction of a homeless person asleep on a grate in washington, d.c., as ronald reagan drives by in his limousine thinking that those people never made a bad choice in their lives by refusing to be rich and that underscores mr. block's opinions that you really had to help the poor and you had to understand the poverty as an institution and not make assumptions about why people are poor. he drew a lot of cartoons about the need to support the poor by
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providing better housing, better nutrition and better medical care. we can see by the end of his career that herblock had great ideas, but his drawing is getting a little weaker. the line is not as steady. he's relying a lot more on crayon than on pencil. pencil has a tendency to smear in the way that wax crayon does not. here we have george herbert walker bush, and that he was in the iran-contra scandal and what mr. block was showing while bush was denying his involvement in the scandal, the testimony of the people who were the principal player in the arms hostages were going ensnare him anyway, and mr. block really
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liked to draw that president bush with rather large lips because, of course, he always was saying to people read my lips. next, we have bill clinton, and here he's shown in a masterful attempt and tightrope walking and trying to move a budget forward, and keep the monica lewinsky scandal at bay. and miss lewinsky is not labeled miss lewinsky and that maybe lost to people who look at their cartoon and the sands of time and we know that that was his intention and anybody who opened the post that day knew that that's exactly what bill clinton was trying to balance. mr. block did not work long into george w. bush's press dnsy and he was too ill to do anything about that and apparently people were going to his hospital
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bedside and encouraging him and saying that they needed his voice. he died in october 2001, and what they didn't know was an arc sumption cartoonists made early in the election and early in his presidency and they drew him as stupid and cartoonists who got to live longer came around on that and decided that he wasn't a stupid president, but at this point, that's how herblock is depicting him as under the control of dick cheney and his father, and ignorant about world affairs and this particular cartoon was actually drawn during the 2000 presidential election. and as you can see in the last year and a half of his life that mr. block, again, the ideas are
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solid. he's expressing an opinion, he's come up with an opinion and he's able to conceive of a cogent way to express it, but his drawing style is weaker and he's using face downs when he can't correct the errors with his pen and the white house as an institution, as a substitute for the sitting president appears quite frequently in mr. block's cartoons, but he wants to talk about policy rather than personality, and that can be the white house in conflict with congress because, of course, they're separate parts of government and mr. block is quite cognizant of that and brings that up in some of his cartoons and it also can be on
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the supreme court and any white house versus supreme court drawings today. so the first one we have is from president kennedy's proclamation that it's in light of martin luther king's march on washington that it's time for the nation, a century after the american civil war to fulfill its promise of full equality for all of its citizens. and as you can see, mr. block is a strong supporter of that and he shows kennedy on top of the white house proudly raising his proclamation as if it was a banner than it was a speech. the next drawing is something a cartoonist can do and a newspaper reporter cannot. the united states has really strong libel laws which allow cartoonists to express their
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opinion. woodward and bernstein had to spend months and find a source to link nixon to the watergate break-in. within a week of that break-in, mr. block drew footstepping leading directly to the white house, and he docked that because it was his opinion that the watergate break-in as well as other scandals were originated in orders issued by nixon and you notice he's careful not to draw nixon in this cartoon because that might have been going a little too far. this cartoon, katherine graham said you're not really going to run that, are you? and when he said yes, she went, okay. she was prepared for the call that he was going to get the next morning when the paper landed on people's front
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porches. in this particular cartoon about the clinton administration, we see the white house as a symbol for the administration policy on bosnia making involved in making treaty negotiations and if you know the constitution it's not the president who gets to sign treaties and it's congress and so we have the capital and a barricade between the two and the congressman and a generic congressman saying he can't do that and we haven't agreed to anything yet. so mr. block is also explicating for his viewers and the people who would open the post for his editorial cartoon with the constitutional differences between the white house and the u.s. capital and their occupants. finally, we have a cartoon
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during the bush administration, the george w. bush administration and mr. block believes strongly in separation of church and state and he believed that funding for religious groups violated that and one way he depicted it, of course, was by showing the newspaper headline and the guy rolling his eyes and looking at the steeple over the white house emphasized the point that mr. block believed that george w. bush had a strong affiliation with religious groups. christian religious groups, in particular. one of the reason yes mr. block cartoons about for decades was on equality and civil rights. he really believed that african-americans deserved an
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equal chance and an equal opportunity, and eight years after the passage of brown versus board of education which was supposed to desegregate the public schools and universities and give everyone an equal education, in 1962 he pointed out that that still was not the case. there were states in the country that had chosen to shutter their public schools rather than desegregate. so we have a little girl holding a birthday cake, an african-american girl holding a birthday cake and she's telling the white gentleman standing next to her that she's 8, and the james crow public school is on the other side of a fence. she's locked out. mr. block would republish this
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every year for 15 years until public schools were accessible to children. it didn't mean he stopped hammering on issues of race and inequality. he never stopped hammering on that and this appeared in "the washington post" many times to remind readers that there was not equality everywhere. this cartoon was drawn in the immediate aftermath of the kennedy assassination. john f. kennedy was assassinated by lee harvey oswaldo november 22, 1963 with an assault rifle that lee harvey oswald had ordered in a catalog. this was a fake advertise am as if it had come in a mail order catalogen couraging people to purchase weapons and notice that it's sportsman, kids, maniacs
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and he really believed strongly in gun control. he'd drawn cartoons on that issue from the 1950s that they were a solution to nothing, but what angered him was the access that mail ordering came to people that had no business owning a weapon and you sense the anger in this drawing. the exclamation points, the sarcasm. he's using a variety of tools at his hand and it's mostly text space. as you can see, the rifle is at the center of the image and it's the text that makes his points in this particular cartoon. welcome to the herblock gallery. this is a space dedicated to cartoons by mr. block and you have chosen the conceit of looking back 50 years ago and
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right now we're looking at cartoons from 1967, but in march we'll switch to 1968 and we rotate every six months in march and september. what i try to do for people is select five cartoons that situate them in events related to the year and five cartoons about 1967 and a little tweak that i try to pick things that will resonate sometimes more successfully than others with people today and that could have been drawn today or i can't believe it was 50 years later and we have this cartoon about the redwood forests and mining interests. actually, mr. block's very first cartoon was about clear cutting in 1929 and he was an adamant supporter of nature of american
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forests and beauty. vietnam war was very important in 1967. johnson escalated the war by increased bombing in north vietnam, and as youescalated the war by increased bombing in north vietnam. as you can see, it was mr. block's opinion that increased bombing would lead to more increased bombing. another thing to know about this but is that it's a really strong graphite drawing. weapons. it's a really strong graphite drawing. graphite is a lubricant. that is what the white house is peeling off the
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drawing. some of it is just gone he cared a lot about the little guy. forever. it really brings that truth to bear. a businessman who holds a whip. this is about consumers, poor consumers that don't have the money to pay for goods out right. they pay over time and they pay more than 100% of the original costs. not to say that credit card bills, when they are not paid off promptly this is really about people taking out loans strictly from stores. that is egypt. he here's an
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example of an international issue. stores. that is egypt. he suffered a crushing defeat at the hand of the israeli six-day war 1967. he is six-day war 1967. he is portrayed as having a napoleon complex, when in reality nasser was pulling back from extremism, realizing he didn't have the financial
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here is an example of maybe history coming down on the side of mr. nasa rather than mr. block wherewithal and trying to meet his agenda. charles schultz and herb block were good friends. they often did things to honor one another. mr. schulz, not so much in his peanuts cartoons. he was a big fan of herb block personally. here we have the time-honored character of snoopy cursing communism, communists in general. snow pea represents bomb happy generals another type of vietnam cartoon. wishing they could bomb more in vietnam. what i want to do is select five cartoons they relate to a series of events or particular events in 1967, something that stands out in
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his work. for me what stood out in 1967 is how important it was to look out for consumers. mr. bloch did a series of cartoons that highlighted the work of individuals in promoting consumer regulations, better safety for americans area we have the food and drug administration. and americans pharmaceutical industry. deceased from inadequate warnings. could he have drawn this cartoon today? i will ask you to be the judge. mr. bloch had suffered a heart attack in 1959 and quit smoking. he never gave up fighting about cigarettes after that. he hated what the industry was doing.
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here he showed the federal trade attempting to fight advertisers to give more controls over what he could say, more truth about what was on the product the people were smoking, to protect consumers. protect consumers. most people remember ralph nader. in 1957 he took on the meat industry. in order to have stricter regulations about what went into process foods about what went into processed foods. upton sinclair and ralph nader were both brought to washington
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and offered an award by president johnson in improving consumer safety and food products. one of the issues in 1967 that attracted herb block's attention was overcharging americans for sometimes the pharmaceutical companies with charge 4000% of what it caused to produce a bill. still. drugs. not everybody was markets, pay less. this is a double inadequacy related to how people the captain's look at all the research we have to do. it's hard to imagine today a time when the seatbelt was not part of the automobile. in 1967
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researchers realized americans would be a lot safer in automobiles. it would reduce injuries. the it would prevent them from hitting the steering wheel the, dashboard. automobile industry pushed back. the concept for this particular cartoon would be the alibi created extra pressure on the accelerator. it may surprise a lot of people that the library of congress houses cartoons. we have 128,000 cartoons and 14,000 60 of those by mr. it's important to save them for several reasons. the document american creativity. it's one of the missions of the library of congress congress,
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the document and creativity, the intelligence of the american people. finally, i think it is a mark of a free society that we can gather opinions with which we do not agree and collect them and preserve them for future generations. there are a lot of countries in the world where nobody would dare do that. it is an example of one of the artists collected. people can look at the original in our reading room. anybody can come to the herb block gallery whenever the library of congress is open to the public.
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