President Trump on Sunday used his Twitter account to share an anti-CNN cartoon by an artist who in 2016 caused heartburn for Trump's presidential campaign by drawing Hillary Clinton in blackface.
The latest image by cartoonist Tony Branco imagines CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer in the year 2038, leaning on a cane as he delivers the following report: “Update! We should see evidence of Russia-Trump collusion any day now.” The implication is that the media will never let go of the story.
The cartoon was originally posted by Twitter user @RealDJTrump, who was responding to one of the president's messages from a weekend tweetstorm. Trump quoted the tweet and added his own commentary: “The Fake News of big ratings loser CNN.”
Branco is a conservative cartoonist who told me during the 2016 campaign that “political cartoons are supposed to rile people up.” His website is ComicallyIncorrect.com, a jab at political correctness.
In August 2016, Trump campaign surrogate Mark Burns, a pastor, apologized after tweeting a Branco cartoon that depicted Clinton in blackface and saying, “I ain't no ways tired of pandering to African Americans.”
The episode prompted the Trump campaign to enforce stricter rules for surrogates, in an effort to avoid similar embarrassments.
Branco, however, was unapologetic.
“I fail to see the racism in it,” he said when I asked him about the Clinton cartoon.
Trump either did not know who had drawn the CNN cartoon or did not mind associating himself with Branco, whose name appears in the corner of each of his drawings. Whatever the case, the president's tweet Sunday is the latest example of poor or nonexistent vetting in his social-media communications.
In November, he retweeted anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, a small group of ultranationalists. Trump later said he was unfamiliar with Britain First.
In July 2016, Trump tweeted a meme of Clinton with the words “most corrupt candidate ever” emblazoned on a six-pointed star of David, against a backdrop of $100 bills. The image first appeared in a tweet by a user known for anti-black and anti-Muslim messages and gained traction on the Internet on a section of the 8Chan Web forum frequented by white supremacists. Trump's campaign said it viewed the star as a sheriff's badge.
Despite past criticism, Trump still seems unconcerned about the origins of what he posts on Twitter. On Sunday, it seems, he saw another anti-CNN image that he liked and decided to share it without worrying about the implications of embracing Branco's controversial work.
Trump has previously tweeted a photoshopped image of the CNN logo squashed on the sole of his shoe, a cartoon of a train with his name on it plowing into a CNN reporter, and a wrestling video edited to depict Trump slamming an opponent whose head is covered by the CNN logo.