By DAVID A. LIEB
“Dilbert” creator Scott Adams continued to see his reach shrink Monday as dozens of newspapers and a major comic strip platform said they would no longer publish his long-running office workplace comic strip over his recent racist remarks.
Newspaper readers around the country were greeted by notes from publishers — and, in at least one instance, a blank space — alerting them to outlets’ decision to stop running the popular comic. Adams’ fate was effectively sealed Sunday evening when “Dilbert” distributor Andrews McMeel Universal said it was severing ties to the cartoonist. By Monday morning, “Dilbert” was gone from the GoComics site, which also features many top comic strips like “Peanuts” and “Calvin and Hobbes.”
In a Feb. 22 episode of his YouTube show, Adams described people who are Black as members of “a hate group” from which white people should “get away.” Various media publishers across the U.S. denounced the comments as racist, hateful and discriminatory while saying they would no longer provide a platform for his work.
Readers of The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Massachusetts, found a blank space in Monday’s edition where “Dilbert” would normally run. The paper said it would keep the space blank throughout March “as a reminder of the racism the pervades our society.”
Newspapers ranging from the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post to smaller papers like the the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette have also said they would cease to publish “Dilbert.” The strip, which lampoons office culture, first appeared in 1989.
“This is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve,” Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Chris Quinn wrote. “We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.”
The Andrews McMeel Universal statement said the distributor supports free speech, but Adams’ comments were not compatible with the core values of the company based in Kansas City, Missouri.
“We are proud to promote and share many different voices and perspectives. But we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate,” the statement jointly signed by the chair and CEO said.
While Adams’ strips are no longer on GoComics, he maintains an extensive archive on his own website. In a YouTube episode released Monday, Scott Adams said that new “Dilbert” strips will only be available on his subscription service on the Locals platform.
“They made a business decision, which I don’t consider anything like censorship,” he said of Andrews McMeel Universal, adding that his comments about Black people were hyperbole.
Adams had previously defended himself on social media against those whom he said “hate me and are canceling me.” He also drew support from Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted that the media previously “was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites & Asians.”
During the Feb. 22 episode of “Real Coffee with Scott Adams,” he referenced a Rasmussen Reports survey that had asked whether people agreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.” Most agreed, but Adams noted that 26% of Black respondents disagreed and others weren’t sure.
The Anti-Defamation League says the phrase at the center of the question was popularized as a trolling campaign by members of 4chan — an anonymous and notorious message board — and began being used by some white supremacists. Rasmussen Reports is a conservative polling firm has used its Twitter account to endorse false and misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines, elections and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Adams, who is white, repeatedly referred to people who are Black as members of a “hate group” or a “racist hate group” and said he would no longer “help Black Americans.”
In another episode of his online show Saturday, Adams said he had been making a point that “everyone should be treated as an individual” without discrimination.
“But you should also avoid any group that doesn’t respect you, even if there are people within the group who are fine,” Adams said.
Christopher Kelly, vice president of content for NJ Advance Media, wrote that the news organization believes in “the free and fair exchange of ideas.”
“But when those ideas cross into hate speech, a line must be drawn,” Kelly wrote.