Scott Adams and his Dilbert comic strip have been dropped by his syndicate Andrews McMeel. The news comes after several days of American newspapers declaring they were dropping the strip from their comics pages in the wake of the creator’s latest, highly-publicised racist rant, which took place on his podcast last week.
— Andrews McMeel (@AndrewsMcMeel) February 27, 2023
In a joint statement late on Sunday night, Andrews McMeel Universal’s chairman Hugh Andrews and its CEO and president Andy Sareyan said:
“Andrews McMeel Universal is severing our relationship with Dilbert creator Scott Adams. The process of this termination will extend to all areas of our business with Adams and the Dilbert comic strip.”
“As a media and communications company, AMU values free speech. We are proud to promote and share many different voices and perspectives. But we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate. Recent comments by Scott Adams regarding race and race relations do not align with our core values as a company.
“Our creator-first approach is foundational to AMU, and we deeply value our relationships with our creators. However, in the case with Adams, our visions and principles are not compatible.”
Without Andrews McMeel syndication, Dilbert immediately loses access to their enormous network of over two thousand worldwide newspapers who directly license Andrews McMeel syndicated strips such as Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, For Better or For Worse, Garfield, and Nancy.
On the February 22 episode of his podcast Real Coffee with Scott Adams – which Adams records and posts daily – the Dilbert creator brought up a poll from right-wing polling company Rasmussen concerning the statement whether it was “OK To Be White”, read from it that up to 47% of the survey’s black respondents did not reply to the affirmative, and then declared black people as a “hate group”. He also told white people to avoid interactions with black people.
This is not the first time that Scott Adams has said, done, or published something controversial, in poor taste, or discriminatory, but the fallout from his latest YouTube rant has finally stirred the hornets’ nest enough for the wider press – and now his own syndicate – to take a stand.
Running since 1989, Dilbert is a satirical comic strip created by Adams that pokes fun at white-collar office culture. A wildly popular strip in its heyday, according to Andrews McMeel Syndication it could be found “in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and 25 languages” and is “the most photocopied, pinned-up, downloaded, faxed and e-mailed comic strip in the world.”
Newspapers and news groups that declared over subsequent days that they had dropped Dilbert from their pages and websites include the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the USA Today Network (which has a large portfolio of over 300 local newspapers), Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer and its owner Advance Local (which also has a local newspaper portfolio).
Chris Quinn, editor of The Plain Dealer, said on February 24 that “we will no longer carry his comic strip” adding: “This is not a difficult decision.”
He then went on:
“[The podcast rant was] a staggering string of statements, all but certain to result in the loss of his livelihood. I hate to quote him at all, but I do so to dissuade responses that this is a “cancel culture” decision.
“No, this is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve. We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.”
USA Today Network owner Gannett said on social media the same day:
“At Gannett, we lead with inclusion and strive to maintain a respectful and equitable environment for the diverse communities we serve nationwide…The USA Today Network will no longer publish the Dilbert comic due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.”
As the number of major outlets declaring their discontinuation of Dilbert grew, others started picking up the story to the point that TV news networks were featuring the furore – and Scott Adams’ racist comments. The BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, NBC, CBS, CNN were among the outlets covering the story. In fact the story has gone global in the press – and it seems you would be hard pressed to find a place that isn’t covering it.
Earlier on Sunday Andrews McMeel had responded via a post on social media saying:
“We are disturbed by the personal views recently expressed by Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and do not support them in any way. Andrews McMeel Universal values free speech. We promote and facilitate many different voices and perspectives. But we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate. We will be issuing a more detailed statement soon.”
Adams has continued to comment over the weekend. On another of his Coffee With Scott episodes, he seemingly sardonically described the situation – while depicting himself as entering the “third act” of a movie, where the protagonist begins in an inescapable situation:
“By Monday I should be mostly cancelled…most of my income will be gone by next week.
“Not only that. The income is the least important part. The important part is that my reputation for the rest of my life is destroyed. You can’t come back from this.”