Saturday, April 14, 2007

Arkansas' Cartoon Network

It hasn't been the best of weeks for Houston Nutt, and now a political satire cartoon titled "Orval" is taking shots at the Arkansas coach. The cartoon runs in the Arkansas Times, a weekly newspaper of politics and culture, and we have provided two recent entries in the series that deal with Nutt's relationship with athletic director Frank Broyles.

The top panel is the entry from April 12, and the main characters are Nutt and recently fired basketball coach Stan Heath. The bottom panel, from Jan. 25, deals directly with Nutt and Broyles. You can click on each cartoon to get a closer look or visit the links for a detailed examination. Our question: Does this fall within the limits of political satire, or is this — as they say — stepping over the line?

Last week's release of a 48-page document has ratcheted up the sparring between the pro-Nutt and anti-Nutt camps. On Friday night, Little Rock physical therapist Teresa Prewett, a friend of Nutt, released a statement apologizing for an email she wrote to Mitch Mustain in December that was critical of the freshman quarterback. Prewett took full responsibility for writing the letter, an apparent move to distance Nutt from allegations that he was behind the email. Mustain, the 2005 Gatorade and Parade prep player of the year, announced in January that he would transfer, and Nutt critics have pointed to Prewett's email as a key reason behind his departure. Mustain's expected destination is USC.

Also backpedaling was citizen journalist Thomas McAfee, a Razorback fan whose Freedom of Information request became the basis for the 48-page document that detailed more than 1,000 calls and text messages between Nutt and Fort Smith news anchor Donna Bragg in a two-month period, an average of more than 15 communications a day. Nutt's wife, Diana, issued a statement Wednesday night saying "Houston has not had an affair with Donna Bragg!"

McAfee, who has retained representation after receiving two threatening letters from Nutt attorney Byron Freeman, told the Searcy Daily Citizen that he did not author the 48-page document and that friends wrote the analysis and posted it on the Internet. Regardless, McAfee says his life has changed. "I don't see what I did was wrong, but I wish it hadn't turned out the way it had. ... People have sent mail cursing me and threatening me with bodily harm."

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