CQ Roll Call cartoonist RJ Matson will receive the 2019 Berryman Award for editorial cartooning at the National Press Foundation’s annual journalism awards dinner on Thursday, Feb. 13.
Matson has been with CQ Roll Call since 1986. His cartoons are also syndicated by Cagle Cartoons and have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Washington Post, the Washington City Paper and other publications. He as also worked as a cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The New York Observer.
Here are Matson’s award-winning cartoons, published between October 1, 2018 and August 21, 2019:
Still Standing, published Oct. 4, 2018: Instead of bogging himself down in the daily minutiae of the political and media frenzy surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination in the fall of 2018, Matson instead focused his satirical eye on the larger picture /endgame of the whole affair. Its lasting effects on the legislative process and on the institution of Congress as a whole are and summed up in this cartoon.
Temper Tantrump, published Dec. 11, 2018: At the end of 2018, John Kelly became the latest in a long and growing line of Trump administration officials to resign. As White House chief of staff, Kelly had long been characterized as the "adult" in the Oval Office. His resignation, while not surprising, still sent shockwaves throughout the Washington establishment. This cycle of steady hands abandoning the seemingly out-of-control Trump ship — which continued just a few weeks later with the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis — is satirized by Matson in this Dec. 11 cartoon.
Pelosi the Riveter, published Jan. 29, 2019: Democrats won a House majority in the 2018 midterms by mainly focusing on policy issues such as health care. But their victory was also part of a larger backlash against Trump. The president’s refusal to sign a spending bill passed by a GOP-controlled Congress after the election — because funding for his border wall had not been included — led to the longest federal government shutdown in history. Amid the chaos, Democrats, with Nancy Pelosi as the new speaker, took control of the House in early January. Matson captured it all in this cartoon, riffing on the iconic "Rosie the Riveter" poster from World War II.
Book TV, published 7/22/19: The Mueller investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election is one of the most definitive moments in this country’s political history since 9/11. From the moment of its announcement in 2017 to its conclusion in the spring of 2019, the investigation intensified an already-wide political schism in the electorate. And while it did not bring down Donald Trump’s presidency, it did bring public focus on the arcane legal and inner workings of the federal government. It also made a celebrity out of Robert Mueller himself — someone who spent the majority of his career as a public servant outside the media spotlight. This cartoon, published just before Mueller's reluctant appearance before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee last July, sums up the entire episode.
Family Road Trip, published 08/01/19: The August break in the legislative calendar is both eagerly anticipated and politically reviled by members of Congress. A few months before this year’s recess, the Mueller report broke, detailing a case for obstruction of justice for Congress to potentially follow. Calls for Donald Trump‘s impeachment continued to roil the progressive wing of the House Democratic Caucus throughout the summer only to be tempered by Speaker Pelosi. Many felt that going away for a month would lose them any impeachment momentum spurred by the Mueller report. This cartoon captures all of the unease going into the recess and what loomed ahead for congressional Democrats.
Follow Matson’s work on Roll Call at Capitol Ink.