Garry Trudeau's old target Richard Nixon might have called it "an historic first": Six "Doonesbury" comic strips have been withdrawn by Trudeau after his syndicate protested that they would cause problems around the country.
However, the cartoon panels, which concern a controversial movie widely distributed by antiabortion groups, appear in the June 10 issue of The New Republic, printed yesterday.
In the sequence, which would have gone to Trudeau's 800 subscribers for use beginning June 3, Joanie Caucus is trying to organize a protest against "The Silent Scream," the antiabortion film narrated by Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson.
In Trudeau's version, the narrator of a film called "Silent Scream II: The Prequel" describes aborting a "12-minute-old" embryo that he names "Timmy." The narrator, who looks like Nathanson, says that the program "seeks to make no judgments," then introduces a silhouette of the woman involved in the abortion as "the murderess herself."
Trudeau's antiabortionist notes that Timmy's last words are "repeal Roe v. Wade" and closes by saying the situation in this country is "nothing less than a holocaust."
A voice from the White House adds: "Gosh, there's that word again."
Trudeau could not be reached yesterday, but Lee Salem, editorial director of Universal Press Syndicate in Mission, Kan., said that when officials at Universal saw the strip, they were concerned that the segment would be unusually controversial, even for Trudeau.
"We went over the material and had lengthy conversations here," said Salem. "Given the broad spectrum of newspapers he was in, we felt there would be considerable problems . . ."
Salem, who said Trudeau agreed to replace the strips, added that they were the first withdrawn by Trudeau since "Doonesbury" went national in 1970. Trudeau was free to release the panels elsewhere, Salem said.
New Republic Editor Michael Kinsley said yesterday that Trudeau "called up and offered it, and we're paying him our usual rates."
Elaborating yesterday, Kinsley said: "I decided to print them because I thought they were very funny and also because there was an abortion protest this week.
"Also, ordinarily we don't get an opportunity like this." Stating an Opinion
When Newsweek Washington bureau chief Morton Kondracke unfolded Wednesday's issue of The Washington Times, there he was -- a newsman making news.
Across the midsection of the front page was the bannered headline: "Writer brands Democrats 'arrogant,' 'guilty' on Nicaragua." And the story quoted Kondracke as opining thus: ". . . the Democratic Party is saying that the only way the United States can succeed is by . . . pretending that the world is the state of Oregon, or maybe Cape Cod. It ain't so."
Kondracke, who said the headline was wrong but that the quotes in the story were basically correct, yesterday said he was "astounded" that he made Page 1.
"It was an informal gathering that I thought would be noticed by nobody," he said.
Kondracke's comments were made during a Tuesday breakfast debate with Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.). The session was sponsored by the New Democratic Forum, a group of five former Democratic campaign aides.
"It was a Democratic gathering, but I would do it for a Republican gathering, too," Kondracke said. "As long as you don't take money from a political party or endorse candidates, I don't see why you can't say what you think."
Kondracke, who has been a frequent guest on "The McLaughlin Group" and other national television shows, says: "My views are reasonably moderate, and I'm not ashamed of them . . .
"Being on the front page is a very unusual experience, but reporters do have views . . . I don't see any reason why being reasonably up front with them is wrong."
Kondracke, who was executive editor of The New Republic until he became Newsweek's Washington bureau chief in February, added, laughing: "I was an opinion journalist, now I'm a bureau chief, and it's hard to change old ways." Instead of a Thousand Words
It is known that The Wall Street Journal prides itself on its elegant grayness, a style broken only by graceful drawings of famous or unusual people.
So if yesterday's Journal seemed a little disconcerting, it was because of a strange addition -- a photograph on the front of its second section of the prototype of Time Inc.'s new magazine, Picture Week.
The newspaper employs no professional photographers, and its graphics are put together by a staff of 18.
But before another historic first is declared, Assistant Managing Editor Stewart Pinkerton notes that there have been "a few" other photos in the Dow Jones paper, including one on Nov. 16, 1967 of former Journal president Bernard Kilgore accompanying his obituary.
But, said Pinkerton, they are very rare: "If it seems particularly appropriate, we're open to it, but we're not launching some new era."