This conservative cartoonist didn't like Trump. Now he does.

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Another type of cartoonist; Facebook played by Vice News; no Milo, please

If America's editorial cartoonists were lined up ideologically, like the Supreme Court, Antonio Branco would be sitting on the far right, in the Justice Alito seat.

In his cartoons, a donkey often does much of the talking. Or Hillary Clinton. The message is often one of hypocrisy by Americans who presume they are the ruling class, horrified at the uncouth usurper Donald Trump, resisting everything.

“I don’t shy away from the fact that I’m conservative," Branco, 61, said by telephone from his place, about 90 minutes outside Seattle.

He got conservative as the oldest son of a mom on food stamps and welfare, a kid who went to work at age 18 to help her and his two siblings. He was always drawing, as an Army MP for three years, as a junior college student on the GI Bill, as a worker in a sawmill in Washington state, at his graphic arts store. He started cartooning in earnest in 2010, after President Obama's push for universal healthcare and increased regulation, which he viewed as socialist. Though he didn't vote for Obama, he saw his election as historic and a chance to bring America together, and was deeply disappointed.

“I would talk to my wife or scream at the TV, but then I started getting these ideas for cartoons that no one else was doing,” Branco said. "Facebook and Twitter gave me a vehicle to get my cartoons out there. I wasn’t expecting it to take off so much.”

In a big year for cartoonists, Branco, already in 35 publications and Legal Insurrection, a conservative website, was picked up last month by the Creators Syndicate, whose roster includes Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonists Mike Luckovich and Michael Ramirez. Ramirez, a generally conservative cartoonist, is one of Branco's favorites; another is Clay Bennett, a generally liberal cartoonist with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. 

"I admire his simplicity," he said of Bennett's work. “That’s the key. Sometimes I’m guilty of getting too complex.”

Branco is a supporter of the Second Amendment and the current government of the state of Israel, but he said he is not a reflexive conservative — he  has libertarian views on legalizing marijuana and moderate views on LGBT issues. He supported Ted Cruz and others before Donald Trump got the GOP nomination in 2016. "With Trump, I didn’t trust him, I didn’t know him. I didn’t like his vulgarity,” Branco said, adding: “Believe me, I separate what Trump has done from his tweets.”

Branco, who also draws cartoons for Americans for Limited Government and Romulus Media, does like Trump's reduction of regulations, tough border talk and corporate tax cut. In 2016, Branco viewed him as the better choice than Hillary Clinton, who he felt had been embroiled in scandal for decades.

Branco cartoon

Where does Branco get his news from? Yes, Fox News, but also the BBC, the Drudge Report, CNN, CBC and NPR.

He's got a book out, "Make America Laugh Again," and he hopes to keep cartooning for another 10 or 15 years. “As long as my hand moves, I don’t go blind, and my mind works,” he said.

Quick hits

THE DANGERS OF STENOGRAPHY: The AP deleted this tweet, which quoted Trump as saying (falsely) that the United States was the only nation with birthright citizenship. In 2015, PolitiFact put the count of such nations at 33.

HOW TO DO A CALL-OUT: I’m struck by how The Guardian’s Sam Jordison has spurred on readers to offer their favorites of Agatha Christie’s 66 detective novels. Jordison’s call to readers is lengthier than usual, to be sure, but who can resist this lead (or lede)? “It’s dark. It’s cold. As I write this the rain is lashing down outside my window and beyond that – ugh! The world. Brexit, Trump, Putin. Danger, fear and uncertainty. I want warmth, I want comfort and I want to feel that somehow, somewhere, order might be restored. I want, in other words, to read a novel by Agatha Christie.”

DEFENDING DEMOCRACY?: Facebook's second longest serving employee, its VP of social good, told Frontline PBS a big regret is that the social network did not have "20,000 people working on safety and security back in the day." The theme of Frontline's two-part investigation was that Facebook promised a more democratic public square, but instead confused truth and fact, aiding the rise of demagogues and persecution of democracy. Related: Vice News faked Facebook by attempting to place ads as each of the 100 Senators. Facebook allowed each transaction.

YOU HAVE MY FULL ATTENTION: It’s hard to top this start to an article on Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s long animosity, from WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov: “Two centuries ago, in the fall of 1818, the Saudi monarch was brought to Istanbul in chains. He was displayed in a cage to the cheering crowds outside the Hagia Sophia mosque, and then, amid celebratory fireworks, his head was chopped off.”

NO MILO, PLEASE: Mostly, Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen finds the new Google news feed a big miss. What a time suck to keep tapping “not interested” in a news feed supposedly for you. “Not interested in stories from hellomagazine.com.” “Not interested in Milo Yiannopoulos.”  What ever happened, Owen asks, to Google’s clean white space?

COLLABORATING WITH A GIANT: Quietly, the BBC has fostered one of the biggest local news collaborative journalism efforts. The initiative got a huge boost when the UK’s National Rail favored the nation’s south in budgetary moves, angering — and uniting — the rest of the nation in opposition, writes Tara George of Montclair State's Center for Cooperative Media.

PAY UP: The New York Times has launched a new ad intended to reinforce the value of its journalism — and why it’s worth it to subscribe. “The Truth is Worth It,” state the new ads, which focus on NYT scoops and the dedication to get them.

HINDSIGHT: Journalists of color were right about Trump, writes Joel Mathis for The Week. Why didn’t white journalists listen?

SLAIN: Achyutananda Sahu, a videographer for India’s national broadcaster, in an attack by Maoist rebels in central state of Chhattisgarh. The journalist was part of a TV crew traveling with police, who were ambushed, the BBC reported. Two police officers also were killed in the attack.

MOVES: P. Kim Bui, a veteran of Now This and Reportedly, is moving to azcentral.com and The Arizona Republic to help direct breaking news, audience and innovation. ... Chris Amico, co-creator of Homicide Watch, has moved from Frontline PBS to the USA Today Network as a journalist/developer.

On Poynter.org

  • How election-related misinformation spread on WhatsApp in the days before Brazil’s presidential vote. By Daniel Funke.

  • From the vault: A 55-year-old column with unusual relevance after the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting. By Eugene Patterson.

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Have a good Wednesday. See you tomorrow.

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