This article was published more than 7 years ago
Herblock was the pen name of Herbert Block, the Washington Post’s political cartoonist who graphically captured the Watergate story in more than 100 often memorable drawings done between June 1972 and August 1974. Twenty of them are presented in this feature in chronological order.
The Post’s cartoonist from 1946 to 2001 and three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Herblock was an unrepentant liberal who started his career defending Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and ended it poking fun at George W. Bush. He described his profession as “an irreverent form of expression, and one particularly suited to scoffing at the high and the mighty. If the prime role of a free press is to serve as critic of government, cartooning is often the cutting edge of that criticism.”
Herblock demanded, and received, total editorial independence at The Post, refusing most requests to tailor his views to the needs of others. In her memoirs, publisher Katharine Graham wrote, “Since he arrived at The Post, five editors and five publishers have learned a cardinal rule: Don’t mess with Herb.”
“I have sometimes opened the paper and gasped at Herb’s cartoons, particularly during Watergate when we were so embattled on all fronts,” Graham confessed. “But I learned not to interfere. And anyway, most of the time we’re on the same wavelength. Even when we aren’t, I should confess, I generally find myself laughing uproariously at the cartoon that has caused my apprehension. In this sense, Herb always wins.”
Block received the Congressional Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton on August 8, 1994, the 20th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation. He died on October 8, 2001.