Newspapers have dropped the 'Dilbert' comic strip after a racist rant by its creator
Updated: 5:55 p.m.
The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and other newspapers across the country say they will no longer carry the syndicated "Dilbert" comic strip after cartoonist Scott Adams urged white people "to get the hell away from Black people." He uttered his racist advice during his online video program last week, during which he labeled Black people a "hate group."
Adams opens the episode discussing the presidential bid by Republican multimillionaire entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Then, 13 minutes into the video, Adams began his screed by citing the results of a recent public opinion poll conducted by the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports.
By telephone and online, the group surveyed a thousand American adults, with this question: "Do you agree or disagree with this statement, 'It's OK to be white'?"
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The report found that 72 percent of the respondents agreed, including 53 percent who are Black. Some 26 percent of Black respondents disagreed, and 21 percent said they are "not sure." The poll also found that 79 percent of all the respondents agreed with the statement "Black people can be racist too."
The statement "It's OK to be white" has been repeated on right-wing websites and in speeches. The Anti-Defamation League has denounced it as a hate chant.
On his YouTube livestream program, “Real Coffee with Scott Adams,” the cartoonist said the results of that poll demonstrate the country's racial tensions "can't be fixed."
Adams previously claimed he was a victim of racism in Hollywood and corporate America. He was also a vocal supporter of Donald Trump. For three decades, he produced his comic strip "Dilbert," which satirizes office culture. According to Andrews McMeel Syndication, "Dilbert" appeared in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and 25 languages.
Adams has made news for other controversial statements, including questioning the accuracy of the Holocaust death toll.
On his video show last week, the 65-year-old said he had been identifying as Black "because I like to be on the winning team," and that he used to help the Black community. Adams said the results of the Rasmussen poll changed his mind.
"It turns out that nearly half of that team doesn't think I'm okay to be white," he said, adding that he would re-identify as white. "I'm going to back off from being helpful to Black America because it doesn't seem like it pays off," he said. "I get called a racist. That's the only outcome. It makes no sense to help Black Americans if you're white. It's over. Don't even think it's worth trying."
"I'm not saying start a war or do anything bad," he added. "Nothing like that.
I'm just saying get away. Just get away.
Editor Chris Quinn, of cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, called Adam's video statement "hateful and racist."
"We are not a home for those who espouse racism," Quinn wrote. "Adams' reprehensible statements come during Black History Month, when The Plain Dealer has been publishing stories about the work being performed by so many to overcome the damage done by racist decisions and policy."
In a letter from the editor, The Oregonian's Therese Bottomly wrote, "Some readers will no doubt deride my decision as an example of 'overly woke' culture or as a knee-jerk politically correct response. What about free speech, they might ask. Isn't this censorship? No one is taking Adams' free speech rights away. He is free to share his abhorrent comments on YouTube and Twitter so long as those companies allow them. This also isn't censorship; it's editing. Editors make decisions every day about what to publish, balancing the need to inform against the possibility of offending reader sensibilities."
In a message to readers Sunday, Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Suki Dardarian wrote that the comic strip would cease publication of the comic strip, and remove the comic strip from the publication’s website on Monday.
“Adams’ comments were hateful and racist. they violated our core values and standards and reached well beyond our guidelines for open debate,” Dardarian said.
This is not the first time Adams's strip has been dropped. Last year, The San Francisco Chronicle and 76 other newspapers published by Lee Enterprises reportedly dropped "Dilbert" after Adams introduced his first Black character. Quinn noted that the move was "apparently to poke fun at 'woke' culture and the LGBTQ community."
Quinn said other newspapers that are part of Advance Local newsrooms — in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Oregon — made the same decision to stop running the strip.
Adams reacted to the new backlash on Twitter, saying he'd been canceled. Nearly 18 minutes into his YouTube show Saturday, he predicted, "Most of my income will be gone by next week ... My reputation for the rest of my life is destroyed. You can't come back from this, am I right? "
MPR News staff contributed to this report.
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