The Daytona Beach, Fla., Journal endorsed President Carter but...

Oct. 29, 1980

The Daytona Beach, Fla., Journal endorsed President Carter but pulled this week's 'Doonesbury' comic strip poking fun at Ronald Reagan's brain, saying the portrayal of the GOP candidate as a simpleton was 'unconscionable' and not funny at all.

Five other dailies moved the strip from the funny pages to their news or editorial pages and several editorially criticized Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist G.B. Trudeau for making a vicious personal attack.

Readers of the Indianapolis Star, however, demanded the cartoon be re-instated Tuesday after editors pulled it, and dozens of papers in large cities from Washington to San Francisco, Chicago to Dallas, ran the cartoons with nary a comment.

This week's strip features a mythical TV program with a Carl Saganish narrator exploring 'the mysterious world of Ronald Reagan's brain' in a 'topsy-turvy funhouse of a trip.'

The Daytona Beach Journal, which is backing Carter, said on its editorial pages Tuesday that the cartoon's implication that Reagan is a 'simpleton' was 'unconscionable.'

'There is nothing funny about about cartoonist Trudeau's televised 'in-depth look' into the anatomy of Reagan's brain,' the paper said. 'We are therefore omitting the strip until after the election as a vicious personal attack on the Republican nominee, no matter how much we disagree with him and fear his election.'

The Indianapolis Star, which did endorse Reagan, also initially refused to run the strip until after the election, but it lifted the ban after much reader protest _ 850 calls in a matter of hours.

'Too many readers thought we were being censors and biased, where all we were trying to do was be fair, and thought it was an unwarranted attack,' said Star managing editor Lawrence S. Connor. 'If it was Carter, we'd have done the same thing.'

The six daily 'Doonesbury' strips are running today and Thursday on the Star's op-ed page.

'What wonders await us!' Tuesday's strip enthused. 'The fornix _ Reagan's memory vault, storehouse of images of an idyllic America, with 5-cent Cokes, Burma Shave signs, and hard-working white people.

'The hypothalamus, the deep, dark coils of human aggression, source of Reagan's impulses to send U.S. forces to Angola, Iran, Korea, Cyprus, Cuba, Lebanon and countless other hot spots.'

In Thursday's strip, the narrator comments, 'The brain of Ronald Reagan has been shrinking ever since 1931, whereas Jimmy Carter's brain has only been dying since 1944. To the trained scientist, this represents a clear choice.'

The San Bernardino Sun Telegram also labeled the series 'vicious attacks' on Reagan and published the six strips on its news pages.

The Columbus, Ind., Republic and the Albany, N.Y., Knickerbocker News decided to run the strips on their editorial pages, and the Salt Lake City Deseret News published the entire week's sequence on its op-ed page.

'Reagan supporters _ and the polls show that includes the great majority of Utahans _ will think this 'Doonesbury' sequence is unfair and entirely one-sided,' wrote Deseret News Editor and General Manager Bill Smart in an accompanying editorial. 'We think so, too.'

The Jackson Daily News, Mississippi's second largest paper, endorsed Reagan in September, but Managing Editor Bob Gordon said he viewed the series as a political satire.

'I don't see any need to jerk a comic strip off the page every time it's somewhat controversial,' he said.

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