Pop Goes the Putin

Dana Summers/Tribune Content Agency

Americans voted for president in 2016, but we may not have been the only people with a say in the results. According to U.S. officials, Russian operatives used Facebook and other social media platforms to influence the election’s outcome (see "Is Your Facebook Friend a Russian Hacker?"). Their goal: to spread disinformation to divide Americans, discredit Hillary Clinton, and drum up votes for Donald Trump. Experts warn that Russia could use those same tactics to influence the U.S. midterm elections this fall. 

This cartoon uses a classic jack-in-the-box toy to symbolize Russia’s election meddling. Russian President Vladimir Putin serves as the box’s hidden surprise, while Uncle Sam represents the U.S. Study the cartoon, then answer the questions. 

1. Why might the American election system be represented by a toy?

2. What is Uncle Sam’s reaction to finding Putin inside the box?

3. Why do you think the cartoonist drew the toy’s handle in motion?

4. What point do you think the cartoonist is trying to make?


What aspects of social media make it ideal for spreading disinformation? How can Americans avoid being manipulated on Facebook and other platforms during the midterm elections?

Gary Varvel/Creators.com

How does this cartoon use U.S. airport security procedures to make a point about school safety?

Mike Luckovich/Cartoonist Group

Hyperbole (or exaggeration) can be persuasive. Here, Godzilla illustrates the dangers of texting while walking.

Lesson Plan (1)