The name William Magear Tweed would mean very little to most of us, but ask the New York Times.
'Boss' Tweed ruled the roost over the Democratic Party's Tammany Hall political machine in New York City in the 19th century. He was ruthlessly corrupt, immensely wealthy and despised the New York Times for exposing his legacy of corruption and ill-gotten wealth.
In particular, he railed against the Harper's Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast, famously saying: "Stop those damn pictures. My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing those damn pictures". Tweed died at 55 in prison.
There's been a disturbing trend across mainstream media outfits in America, in recent years. Put aside the continual financial pressures of surviving in a digital world for a moment. We all get and understand that. This has a more menacing undertone.
Since the dismissal of prized editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson from the Houston Chronicle in 2017 (his position erased from the payroll) at least seven editorial cartoonists of serious standing, have lost their positions in a flurry of corporately woven gobbledegook, despite the curious coincidence they were published in mostly Republican strongholds.
This past week however, the dynamics changed. We have just witnessed the demise of the highly respected Patrick Chappatte and Singapore's Heng Kim Song from the pages of the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald-Tribune).
Not for financial reasons, but bizarrely, from fallout of a previously published provincial Portuguese cartoon that depicted Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog leading a blind Trump.
The somewhat naive artist, Lisbon-based António Moreira Antunes, fell blindly into the bear trap of using the Star of David rather than the Israeli flag to identify Netanyahu. To add injury, Trump was wearing a yarmulke. Any credible editor would have stepped in realising the Julius Streicher ghost haunting this image, and 30 seconds with a pen would have saved it from disastrous repercussions.
The New York Times was heavily pilloried for this gross error, and has now taken the alarming stance of deciding to drop all editorial cartoons from its international edition.
When this was first announced a few days back, the response was met with utter shock from the American cartoonists' fraternity. The dog-pile has now spread far and wide; infuriated readers, high profile media commentators, senior journalists and cartoonists at home and abroad have made some very vocal protests.
After all, the stoic 'Grey Lady' is considered to be the authoritative publication for the Americas, with a global reach and at the very pointy end of astute journalism.
Editorial cartooning is, by its nature, an odd yet essential cog in the machinery of fine journalism, recognised and used across all media cultures, West and East. Called the Canary in the Coal Mine, the people's Smoke Detector, when they start chirping, you know something is wrong.
The world's history books use them as visual cornerstones of humanity's navigation through the ages. To suddenly decide that this craft is no longer worthy of gracing the sails of such an important flagship as the New York Times, is a vacuous knee-jerk response to an even greater problem currently facing America.
After all, the vast majority of editorial satirists across all 50 states, are currently chirping in unison, and have been doing so since inauguration day, January 2017. Trump has since declared the media, the enemy of the people.
Now the country's most prestigious media outfit has declared cartoonists the enemy of the media. In an endeavour to pull its pants up, it has unfortunately given itself one very uncomfortable-looking 'Harry High-Pants' wedgie.
The losers here are the New York Times and, more importantly, its global stable of readers, and the history books. As for the satirists, they're armed with the knowledge they were there long before the first New York Times was published, and they'll be around long after the last front page is posted on their website. The current 'Boss' Tweed of American politics would be very happy.
Rod Emmerson was a regular contributing cartoonist to the International New York Times prior to his move to NZ.