New York's Daily News has rarely flinched from what it sees as its duty to bring readers details and photographs of plane crashes, murders, traffic accidents and other of life's rawest experiences. Today it flinched at a comic strip.
Readers of America's largest-selling daily newspaper will not see this week's Doonesbury panels which depict telephone conversations between a would-be killer and a woman in the Daily News promotion department.
The comic-strip killer spends the better part of the week's panels trying to reach News columnist Jimmy Breslin to voice "shattered dreams" and plans for violence.
"Do you have a non de tabloid yet?" asks te promotions lady in today's strip. . .
Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau's barbs were thought by News management to be not in the best interest of the newspaper. A statement approved by the publisher and editor did not comment on whether the comic strip would have been unjurious to News readers.
Trudeau is the latest in a line of critics who have attacked the News in general and its columnist Jimmy Breslin in particular for their coverage of the Son of Sam murderer.
The New Yorker led off last month with a coldly angry commentary beginning by stating that Son Of Sam's murders had sold a lot of newspapers and ending by reporting that Breslin and a co-author have a $150,000 advance to write a book on Son of Sam.
Trudeau's target is Breslin's personal involvement in the story, which ripened after the columnist received a letter from Son of Sam last June.
Breslin's responses ranged from appeals from Son of Sam to give himself eeks) ranged from appeals fro Son of Sam to give himself up to suggestions that the killer would mark the anniversary of his first murder by slaying again.
The New Yorker suggested that the latter suggestion could be used by journalism teachers as an example of journalistic irresposibility.
As the debate over Son of Sam coverage continuedin New York, The Daily News defended Breslin and its other writer's coverage of the murderer.
But faced with Doonesvbury, the newapaper that sells over 2 million copies daily issued a statement that said:
"We have carefully reviewed the Doonesbury comic strips sheduled for this week of Aug. 29 through Sept. 3. In our judgment it would not to be in the best interest of The News to publish these strips. Therefore, we are substituting a week-long Doonessbury sequence that has not appeared previously in The News."
The substitute strip dates from 1971, before The News began to carry Doonesbury
Trudeau could not be reached for commemt, bt a spokesman for his syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate called The News decision unfortunate.
He said each client has the right not to publish selected Doonesbury cartoons but said, "We don't like it to happen."
Among the first to gleefully remark The News' decision not to allow its pages to be used to critize its own was The New York Post, a paper whose Son of Sam coverage has been criticized as being as sensationalist as The New'. The Post didn't go in for any mention of Son of Sam yesterday but simply printed the Doonesbury that The News omited remarking that "Censorship is news."