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Chicago Tribune Suspends 'Doonesbury' Comic Strip Over Sarah Palin Jokes

The Chicago Tribune has decided to pull the daily comic strip "Doonesbury" for the entire week from its newspapers and website. The controversy is over a week-long series of satirical material that makes fun of Sarah Palin, the failed Vice-Presidential candidate and the Alaskan Governor who quit her job after just over two years to become a conservative pundit & Tea Party icon.

Facing hefty amounts of criticism and charges of censorship, Chicago Tribune's Senior Vice-president and Editor Gerould W. Kern released a statement, which will be printed inside of tomorrow's newspaper. The statement reads:

"This week we are not publishing 'Doonesbury' comic strips because they do not meet our standards of fairness. We are substituting another strip instead.

The 'Doonesbury' strips refer to allegations purportedly contained in an as-yet-unreleased book about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The book is not yet available for verification or review by the Chicago Tribune.

To be sure, 'Doonesbury' is a satirical cartoon, but the remarks are serious enough that we cannot publish the strip without more information, context and a response from Palin."


This week, a fictional character in Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" comic strip is reading passages the forthcoming biography "The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin" by Joe McGinniss, and then making a joke about what he read. (Readers of the strip can also see the passages the character reads.) This was done with Joe McGinniss's full approval and cooperation. While the biography is said to not paint Palin in an overly flattering light, the "Doonesbury" strip is doing what it always has done, which is to poke fun at political figures and make social commentary, often with a politically liberal slant.

Despite some outraged readers claim, what the Chicago Tribune is doing is not truly censoring the comic strip, as it is free to make decisions on what it will and will not publish. If the editorial staff feels something is inappropriate for its newspaper or readers, the First Amendment guarantees the paper its right to not publish that potentially upsetting piece.

Where this becomes a bit more hazy is in Kern's statement that they cannot verify the words in the fictional comic strip, something that the Tribune has seemingly never done before with their published comic strips. It has not previously researched comic strip storylines to ensure "Popeye," "Beetle Bailey," or "Funky Winkerbean" were being honest with their fictionalized words. Though Doonesbury and many other comics have made fun of public figures before, the Chicago Tribune has never sought out a rebuttal for the jokes from those public figures.

The Chicago Tribune's own editorial cartoonists, including their chief editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis, make fun of political & public figures almost daily, often with a politically conservative slant.

"Doonesbury" appears in nearly 1500 newspapers in the United States and internationally. The Chicago Tribune is the only newspaper to have an issue with this week's cartoons. For this week, the Chicago Tribune is replacing the seemingly-controversial "Doonesbury" with the family-friendly "Thatababy" comic strip about young parents and their precocious infant.

Fans of Doonesbury can still easily see the comic strip online this week, including at Doonesbury.com.

There has been no public comment on the actions of the Chicago Tribune from "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau or the author of "The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin," Joe McGinniss. In the past, Trudeau tends to get his revenge against critics within his comic strip a few weeks later.

Today's offending "Doonesbury" comic strip which was pulled by the Chicago Tribune:

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