House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said yesterday that neither he nor members of his staff attempted to prevent publication of the June 15 and 16 "Doonesbury" cartoon strips.
"Nobody ever asked . . . to withdraw anything," O'Neill said. He acknowledged that his chief aide, Gary Hymel, had talked to the Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes the strip, but only after receiving a call from officials of the Los Angeles Times, who were checking the facts in the cartoon.
O'Neill said Hymel called the syndicate to put it "on notice" that the facts in the cartoon were wrong and had been denied "many times."
James F. Andrews, editor of Universal Press Syndicate, said Hymel called him several times, complaining that the strips were "unfair, inaccurate, etc." He said Hymel asked him not to run them.
In each of the two strips, drawn by Pultizer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, radio announcer "megaphone Mark" Slackmeyer was depicted interviewing "Rep. Lacey Davenport" about the progress of congressional ethics investigations.
One strip included a coupon to be mailed to O'Neill asking for information about congressmen mentioned as having received money from Korean businessman Tongsun Park. One was O'Neill, allegedly for "$6,000 in parties." In the other, "Davenport" said some friends gave O'Neill a free interest in a Boston nursing home.
Both incidents have been reported in the past, and O'Neill has not been charged with violations of law or House ethics codes.