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CQ Roll Call’s RJ Matson wins Berryman Award for political cartoons

Matson’s 2019 cartoons satirized McConnell’s focus on Supreme Court, House Democrats’ handling of impeachment and working for Trump

CQ Roll Call editorial cartoonist RJ Matson has been named the 2019 Berryman Award winner for political cartoons. (Courtesy RJ Matson)
CQ Roll Call editorial cartoonist RJ Matson has been named the 2019 Berryman Award winner for political cartoons. (Courtesy RJ Matson)

CQ Roll Call cartoonist RJ Matson has been named the 2019 Berryman Award winner for editorial cartooning by the National Press Foundation.

Matson will receive his award — and $2,500 along with it — at the National Press Foundation’s annual journalism awards dinner on Feb. 13, 2020.

“Matson’s cartoons combine visual clarity and instant impact,” the NPF judges said of the cartoonist’s submission. “His drawing is fresh, clean and beautifully composed. Matson’s dry satire helps break down complicated issues and zeroes in on his point.”

The five cartoons in Matson’s submission satirized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s determination at all costs to fill the Supreme Court with conservative judges; Democratic leaders’ slow drive toward impeaching President Donald Trump despite eagerness among the party’s rank and file; former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee; and the unenviable task of reining in the mercurial Trump as his chief of staff.

“The wild events of this past year gave Matson plenty of political fish to snare in his satirical net,” CQ Roll Call production and design editor Chris Hale told the NPF judges in nominating him for the award.

“All yielded high drama and no small measure of absurdities from President Donald Trump, Congress and the Fourth Estate. This backdrop helped Matson create some of his best work — smart, biting and on point,” Hale said.

Matson has been with CQ Roll Call since 1986, when he began as an illustrator for Roll Call. 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.

Before joining CQ Roll Call, he was a cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The New York Observer.

The NPF has handed out the Berryman Award since 1989, when it was endowed by the family of father-and-son duo Clifford K. and James T. Berryman, two Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists.

The award is given annually to U.S.-based cartoonists whose work “exhibits power to influence public opinion, plus good drawing and striking effect,” the NPF said in its press release.

“The best journalism brings truth to power and RJ’s cartoons singe the powerful, often in funny but always thought-provoking ways. I’m glad RJ is being recognized for his work and pleased that he joins a list of esteemed cartoonists to win the Berryman Award,” said Catalina Camia, editor-in-chief and vice president of CQ Roll Call.


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