The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy to Rid the Nation of G. B. Trudeau’s Doonesbury

Here we thought the USA TODAY Network’s move to restrict their newspapers’ choice of comics to some part of The Gannett 34 was just a budget cutting effort – saving money going to the syndicates and saving manpower hours by setting up pagination layouts for the groups newspapers.

Turns out it was all a cover for a devious and dark master plan.

This past Sunday, many readers whose regional newspapers are owned by the multi-billion dollar, conservative-leaning mass media holding company Gannett flipped to the funny pages to find that Doonesbury was conspicuously missing from its usual position in the printing. Former Iowa State Representative and president of the Veterans National Recovery Center Bob Krause noticed that absence and made sure to show Twitter what Gannett hid from them.

Gannett owns almost 400 newspapers in the United States, including the national publication USA Today and local papers in 44 states, among which is Krause’s Iowa, where the Des Moines Register followed company protocol and cut out the above strip from circulation. Apparently, Gannett didn’t want its readers knowing that seven of the states in the U.S. Confederacy explicitly cited the issue of slavery in their declarations of secession. Gannett also doesn’t want comic strip fans learning about how almost 100,000 white southerners chose loyalty to their country over preserving slavery as they fought for the Union during the Civil War. carries the details of the evil plot to rid America’s papers of liberal comics like Doonesbury.

I’m guessing Doonesbury books will soon be banned in red states. Get em’ before they’re burned.

… the conservative media continues to demonstrate that there is no greater enemy to their agenda than an informed populace.

Beware Wiley! Somehow you skirted past the first cut, but you are no doubt on their list of undesirables.

February 23 Update:

Martin Pengelly, “breaking news editor for Guardian US.,” has obtained a statement from Gannett:

Gannett: “Doonesbury was one of several comic strips impacted by our revitalization plan which began in October 2023. The Doonesbury comic was not singled out. Each market where we implemented this refresh received a thorough explanation over the past several months.”

31 thoughts on “The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy to Rid the Nation of G. B. Trudeau’s Doonesbury

    1. All large media corporations lean more conservative than liberal. I know the talking point is that the media is liberal, but that’s false. Most newspapers and other media outlets want to avoid opinions and when they do add them, they try to both-sides it. The most popular political cartoons with editors, and that get the most reprints, don’t say anything.

      Cagle Cartoons publishes their top ten most reprinted cartoons each week and typically, eight or nine of those ten don’t express an opinion.

    2. As a former reporter and resident of a state with 6 Gannett papers, I can confirm they have stripped the soul and the edge of most of the news coverage, in favor of endless Best Pizzeria articles.

  1. Nice conspiracy theory, but there may be a more simple reason, like Doonesbury has been in reruns of the daily editions for many years now. Not saying I agree with it, but would be more logical.

    1. Boy, that would be a simple reason if:
      1. Doonesbury hadn’t been producing new content FOR YEARS for the Sunday publications,
      2. There wasn’t actually a new comic dated Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 and
      3. Parts of that cartoon weren’t actually IN THE ARTICLE YOU ARE COMMENTING ON.

      That you would put out such a weak and obviously wrong explanation does not do you credit. At the very best it indicates a faith in Gannet that doesn’t seem justified. At worst, it is Bearing False Witness, to try to hide an attempt to hide the truth concerning the Civil War.

  2. But, wait! I thought it was conservatives that are being censored and can’t even speak in public anymore—some guy on the TV in every waiting room across my state (and the AM radio station and my state government and my congressman and both senators) told me so!

  3. And as Wiley pointed out, this is a conspiracy theory. Cracked didn’t do a good job of reporting here as they didn’t seek a comment or explanation from Gannett. I’m sure they wouldn’t have received an honest one but they should have at least tried. It would be nice to know why Gannett did this.

    1. I think it’s pretty obvious why they did it. Has nothing to do with being in reruns during the week. This was a current, contemporary strip. Luckily I read all my comics on the FREE comic page of the Seattle Times so I don’t miss any. I’ve stopped bothering to get the Sunday papers otherwise. We used to get two papers every Sunday, one of which was the NY Times, which I recently canceled because of their more recent rightwing slant on politics. Anyone who thinks any of our media are “liberal” isn’t paying attention.

      1. The NYT has been conservative in its Mideast coverage for decades. I cant speak more generally because I don’t read it enough anymore

    2. I believe it is purely a cost saving move.

      As for trying to get a response from Gannett, well…
      When Gannett sent me a note to correct the initial article about the coming changes
      they were less than forthcoming about what was actually going on
      and efforts on my part to get them to answer some questions,
      including how they came about to choose the favored 34,
      went unanswered except for efforts to get me to make further changes,
      essentially wanting to turn the item into a USA TODAY Network press release.

      1. It’s still sloppy reporting. He’s writing his opinion as if it’s fact. He’s probably right, but good reporters don’t do that.
        Someone’s going to scream at me for this.

      2. “He’s probably right.” Oh, I think the claims made by Mr. Krause and the Cracked article are off-base. The sarcasm in my portions of the item above are implicit, if not overt, and betray my thoughts.

    3. It’s not a “conspiracy theory” if it’s easily provable. You can pick up any of the newspapers the comic was censored from and see that it’s not there. This statement is laughable.

      And you think Gannett is going to actually comment on censoring a comic they didn’t approve of and tacitly admit bias? Come on now.

      1. When did conspiracy theories succumb to logic? In any case, what you need to do is pick up next week’s paper and see if it’s there or not. If this happens to be the week the changes kicked in, it’s a different explanation. And don’t forget that a lot of papers have their Sunday comics printed externally, so what happens in several Gannett papers may be the result of gang printing, not a multi-paper conspiracy.

      2. The conspiracy theory is not that Gannett dropped Doonesbury, that is a fact. The theory comes from people with no connection to the company creating reasons why. Gannett newspapers began instituting the changes, including dropping Doonesbury, four and a half months ago, long before Trudeau had even thought of the February 18 Doonesbury.

        The Register itself dropped the Sunday Doonesbury beginning with the first February Sunday edition. Therefore they must be climate deniers?

        It’s like saying Gannett dropped Between Friends because they are misogynistic. Or The Register dropped the Sunday Mutts because they don’t agree with McDonnell being four-square against clubbing seals. The theory doesn’t necessarily follow the facts.

        Did Gannett drop Prickly City because Stantis is a Never Trumper?
        Did they drop Gil Thorp because it has become all-inclusive?
        Maybe they dropped Frazz from any papers that were running it because Stephan Pastis is on the Board of Directors and we all know he is a fanatical hater of Jef the Cyclist.
        Creating theories for actions is easy, but not automatically true.

        A few years ago Gannett was accused of being liberal when they dropped Mallard Fillmore.
        In that case they did respond. Though, as Clay says, perhaps not with complete transparency.

  4. Doonesbury lost 400 papers? How many are still carrying Doonesbury – mostly Sundays only with daily in reruns?

    1. No. Doonesbury did not lose 400 spots.
      We’ll guess that Cracked got that number of Gannett newspapers from a March 2023 Nieman lab report
      It states: “You can also see the shrinkage in the number of newspapers Gannett publishes. In 2019, post-merger, it owned 261 daily and 302 weekly newspapers. By the end of 2022, those totals were 217 daily and 175 weekly newspapers.” And the shedding has continued in the year since then.
      But we’ll take that 392 number as rounded up to 400. Then subtract the 175 weeklies that maybe a few carried comics but certainly not the daily Doonesbury and probably not the Sunday Doonesbury.
      That leaves us with (rounding down) 200 dailies.
      Some of those do not publish Sunday Funnies and certainly not all of those editors chose to carry the Doonesbury comic strip.
      Others can speculate on how many of less than 200 carried the daily and/or Sunday Doonesbury.

    1. It’s not on Gannett’s list of 34, others barred from their comics pages. This went into effect starting some months back; our Rochester NY paper switched over (hence dropping Doonesbury) a few weeks ago and was one of the last to do so.

      Those Gannett papers that run anything not on the list of 34 must do so in another part of the paper. Dunno if there are any that run Doonesbury on, say, the editorial page but an alternative location for Sundays seems unlikely.

    2. As of January 29, 2024 the daily reruns of Doonesbury no longer run in any of the 200 or so Gannett daily newspapers (it is unbelievable that Doonesbury ran in all Gannett papers). As of February 4, 2024 the new Sunday Doonesbury no longer runs in Gannett’s weekend editions. This was a process that was put in motion in October 2023 when USA TODAY Network newspapers began switching, per orders from headquarters, to some combination of The Gannett 34 which does not include Doonesbury. It is certain that such a major disruption was initiated and finalized months before the October 2023 emergence of the action into production.
      Some papers began the move five months ago, some, Like The Des Moines Register, waited until the last deadline – January 29 for daily strips, February 4 for Sunday strips (there may yet be a couple stragglers).
      While the political bent of Doonesbury MAY have been part of the decision to exclude Doonesbury from The Gannett 34, the decision was made nearly a year ago and the February 18, 2024 Doonesbury was in no way a part of the decision.
      Gannett newspapers have been running Doonesbury for decades that included as bad or worse takes on conservatives positions. That February 18 was the straw that broke the camel’s back is, to put it bluntly, nonsense. Your mileage may vary.

  5. If virtually every article references X as “the company formerly known as Twitter,” why does Gannett get a pass? It is still nothing more than Gatehouse Media, run by a gang of idiots so inept they destroyed their own reputation — along with hundreds of newspapers — in less than a decade, and had to buy another company just for its good name.

    Or maybe a skin suit a la Silence of the Lambs.

  6. Could I get a package deal on the Gannett 34?
    Do they need legal assistance?
    Is there any substance to the case?

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