Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau criticized progressives, the news media and an editorial cartoon that he said depicted a prominent Wichita lawmaker as a “female dog.”
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said she found the cartoon in good humor and asked for a copy.
Ranzau said he wanted to comment on President Trump’s assertion that the news media is the “enemy of the American people.”
“That’s not exactly right. … Actually, the progressive movement is the enemy of the people,” Ranzau said during a 10-minute speech at the end of Wednesday’s commission meeting. “They have to lie, distort (and) deceive people in order to advance their agendas. They are an enemy of the truth.”
Ranzau said progressives like former President Obama were dishonest before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He said politicians use media organizations to “further the progressive agenda.”
“They tell you how much ‘Conservatives are racists, bigots … They hate poor people. They hate this. They hate that. Only the progressives care about the working class,’” Ranzau said.
“They use groups like minorities, women (and) poor people as pawns during elections to gain support,” Ranzau said. “Then they adopt policies and do things that are contrary to their best interests.”
Ranzau also blasted an editorial cartoon The Eagle ran last weekend about the Kansas Senate not overriding Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an income tax increase.
The cartoon by Richard Crowson depicts Wagle, R-Wichita, as Brownback’s “lap doggie,” holding a bone that says “veto sustain.”
“The progressive cartoon is showing Senator Wagle as a dog — a female dog,” Ranzau said. “We all know what a female dog is.”
Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, a former state senator who worked with Wagle, said the cartoon “went well over the line. To call any woman a dog is reprehensible and offensive and indefensible.”
Both O’Donnell and Ranzau said they thought the cartoon showed a double standard toward conservative women.
“If it was a liberal woman that was painted as a dog, I think that there would be uproar in the streets,” O’Donnell said. “People would be coming unglued.”
“Where are all the womens’ groups?” Ranzau asked. “Where’s all the progressives?”
Wagle’s office issued a statement saying she believes in freedom of the press and that her record of standing up to Brownback and “independent leadership negates the way she was depicted in the cartoon.”
“With that being said, President Wagle did find the cartoon to be in good humor, and even asked the cartoonist for a copy that she could keep,” according to the statement.
Eagle executive editor Steve Coffman said the cartoon “was an example of political satire and editorial commentary at its best. Depending on your point of view, it may have made you think, it may have made you mad or it may have made you chuckle. And I believe any reasonable person looking at that cartoon would see nothing more than a cartoonist creatively suggesting that Senator Wagle was a lapdog to Governor Brownback.
“I would note that The Wichita Eagle enjoys a positive and professional working relationship with Senator Wagle,” he said. “We don’t always agree on every issue, but our editorial board has seen fit to endorse her candidacy in multiple elections.
“Her reaction to the cartoon is a perfect example of that professional relationship,” Coffman said. “She told us that while she disagreed with the premise of the cartoon, she ‘thought it was pretty cute, actually.’ ”
Chairman Dave Unruh said after the meeting he thought Ranzau was “out in left field” over the cartoon.
Ranzau also criticized media reporting on the tax debate in Topeka and on the 2016 county budget cycle, where proposed cuts to the health department, culture, the arts and recreation were unpopular at budget hearings.