Political Cartoonist Paul Conrad Dies

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September 8, 2010
Courtesy of Paul Conrad
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Legendary political cartoonist Paul Conrad, who skewered the powerful and fought against censorship, died on September 4 in Los Angeles at the age of 86.

Conrad, who said he was “most proud of being on Nixon’s enemies list,” won three Pulitzer Prizes during the course of his half-century career, including 30 years at the Los Angeles Times. He used his agile pen and his deft sense of humor to denounce presidents, governors and others he saw abusing power.

Conrad is featured in Wherever There’s a Fight because of his advocacy of freedom of the press.  In 1968, one of his cartoons (above) angered then-Mayor of Los Angeles Sam Yorty, who filed a $2 million libel suit against the paper.

In an amicus brief on behalf of Conrad, ACLU of Southern California attorneys Al Wirin and Fred Okrand stated, “if Mayor Yorty is permitted to prosecute …or recovers damages, it will have a considerable inhibiting effect on what to many is the main purpose of the First Amendment: the right of, and the need for, the public to know and be informed in order that there may be true democratic government.”

In 1970, Conrad was vindicated when a judge ruled that penalizing the defendants would “subvert the most fundamental meaning of a free press.”

In a PBS documentary on Conrad, Tom Brokaw said, “Every line he draws cries out to the powers that be, ‘We’re watching you!’”

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