The Arizona Republic stirred the wrath of its critics Friday when it published a political cartoon that showed a former anti-war activist shooting a former Air Force pilot out of the sky.
The cartoon depicted the two women seeking to replace retiring Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in next month’s election. In it, Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is shouldering a rocket launcher to shoot down the plane of Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally.
McSally retired from the Air Force as a colonel after serving 26 years in the armed forces. She was also the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron.
The cartoon, drawn by Steve Benson, includes the word “substance” on the rocket launcher Sinema is holding. The words “shallow attacks” are written in black smoke that spews out from the back of the plane bearing McSally’s name.
At the bottom of the cartoon are the words “reason, not treason.”
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Sick and Disgusting! This is the nastiest editorial cartoon I’ve ever seen in my life!
This is Krysten Sinema shooting down American combat veteran Martha McSally. https://t.co/ui41NM5KTP
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) October 19, 2018
The cartoon referenced an emotional moment in Monday’s debate between the two candidates.
Last weekend, CNN reported on a 2003 conversation it had unearthed in which Sinema was talking about her opposition to the war in Afghanistan. She was asked by the radio show host if she would object if he went to fight for the Taliban.
Do you think this cartoon is over the line?
“Fine,” Sinema said. “I don’t care if you want to do that, go ahead.”
On Monday night, McSally offered her response to that comment.
“You said it was OK for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said. “I will ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it is OK — it is treason!”
Sinema said McSally was “smearing our campaign” by resorting to “ridiculous attacks.”
Benson’s cartoon was poorly received on Twitter.
Regarding Benson’s Mcsally Cartoon. I hope there is severe financial backlash for the Arizona Republic. I hope a lot of people in Arizona cancel their subscriptions and let this left wing propaganda fish wrap go into bankruptcy.
— 1BigAssMistake (@DemsAreADisease) October 20, 2018
Mr. Benson doesn’t realize it, but he just guaranteed McSally’s election. This garbage cartoon really clarifies the clear choice in the #AZSEN race. One candidate flew A-10 combat missions against the Taliban, the other said she was fine with Americans joining them. https://t.co/uNv3vk2DtG
— Colby Badhwar (@ColbyBadhwar) October 19, 2018
Krystan is a joke. I am so glad that got posted. Proof she is a Radical Democrat using the Democratic playbook to get elected scare people about health care and tell lies . Glad I’m Republican mcsally all the way.
— Jeremy benson (@Jeremyb19336725) October 11, 2018
McSally has continued to press home her characterization of Sinema.
“Speaking of treason,” she said at a Thursday event with veterans, “her extreme views are out of step.”
Although differing polls have shown widely different results, the Real Clear Politics average of polls on Saturday showed McSally with a razor-thin lead of less than one percentage point.
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