“Speaking To A Narrowband!” Controversial Cartoonist Michael Leunig Calls Out Newspapers

“Speaking To A Narrowband!” Controversial Cartoonist Michael Leunig Calls Out Newspapers

Michael Leunig is continuing to speak out against newspapers – after The Age announced – it would no longer publish his Monday cartoons.

Leunig who has worked for The Age for decades has recently seen a decrease in his cartoon work. While he still files for Spectrum, the Saturday Age’s arts and culture lift-out, he is no longer drawing for its weekday issues. 

The decision came after Leunig posted a cartoon that has been widely dubbed as anti-vax.

Leunig’s cartoon compared COVID-19 vaccines to the infamous Beijing figure ‘Tank Man’ – who advocated for free speech by standing in front of a line of tanks opposing the Chinese military. This image has become iconic – it is seen as a bold act of heroism and defiance. 

The cartoon received a ton of criticism, he captioned the cartoon with the word ‘Mandate.’

It’s worth noting that usually, a cartoonist’s role is to poke fun and call out politicians and the rules and laws they implement. But a pandemic has different rules, it’s not about views or opinions. It is about health and science. 

Leunig made a name for himself by sharing his opinions and beliefs through art – for instance, he has been critical of John Howard and spoke out against the Iraq War.

However, the pandemic has become an interesting time for provocateurs, particularly when public health is at risk.

Gay Alcorn, the editor of The Age, told The Australian that she had pulled “multiple cartoons by Leunig, almost entirely on the grounds that they expressed an anti-vaccination sentiment.”

“We don’t mind cartoonists challenging the readers. We encourage diversity of thought, but I had a concern with cartoons perceived as anti-vaccination.”

Naturally, Leunig does not seem pleased with this decision, The Australian has reported that when he appeared on the Menzies Research Centre’s Watercooler Podcast, he said: “Earlier this year, I had 12 cartoons in a row censored, week after week, and without explanation.

“People with feet on the ground, who aren’t university-educated, but have got huge common sense, and a great sense of life, and the history of this country, in their own way.

“They’re left out of the equation. They’re not considered.

“The papers are more and more speaking to a very narrow band.”

A narrow band that seems less in need of Leunig’s touch.

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