‘Chicago Tribune’ Pulls ‘The Boondocks’ Again

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By: Dave Astor

The Chicago Tribune dropped today’s “Boondocks,” as the strip once again mentioned President Bush’s alleged former drug use. The paper had also dropped yesterday’s installment.

Why did the Tribune pull Aaron McGruder’s Monday and Tuesday comics? “Even in cartoons, you cannot state as a real-life fact something that is not true in real life,” Geoff Brown, the Tribune’s associate managing editor/features, told E&P. “This is not to say that cartoonists can’t dream up conversations or situations to poke fun at a public figure — that’s satire. But when they inaccurately attribute to a public figure a real-life fact, quote, or action that never happened, then lampoon him or her for a fictional fact, quote, or action, that’s unfair. Reports from reputable news sources about the president’s taped conversation are careful not to state outright that he admitted drug use.”

“The Boondocks,” of course, is considered a liberal comic. Last month (E&P Online, Feb. 8), the Tribune also pulled the conservative “Prickly City” for a day because it felt the comic — which tweaked Sen. Ted Kennedy — contained inaccurate information. “We’re trying to be consistent in maintaining a standard for satire,” said Brown.

Universal Press Syndicate distributes both “Prickly City” and “The Boondocks.” McGruder’s comic appears in about 300 papers — with at least two of them (in addition to the Tribune) dropping yesterday’s “Boondocks,” but (unlike the Tribune) running today’s strip.

Today’s comic shows Huey watching TV as an announcer says: “Reportedly, a conversation in which President Bush admitted to smoking marijuana was recorded by Doug Wead. … This just in. We just got two more revelations from Joe Blow and Petey Crack.” Yesterday’s strip shows a character saying: “Bush got recorded admitting that he smoked weed.” Huey replies: “Maybe he smoked it to take the edge off the coke.”

Most of the e-mails received by the Tribune criticized the paper’s action — accusing it, among other things, of censorship. “If we were censors, we’d cancel ‘The Boondocks’ and ‘Prickly City’ and any other strips whose point of view clashed with some supposed ideology,” said Brown. “We have no political ideology on the comics pages.”

The Tribune published old “Boondocks” strips the past two days.

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