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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/ 5/2008

Obama's Victory: 'Doonesbury' Prediction Didn't Win Over Every Precinct

By Michael Cavna

Garry Trudeau might have felt comfortable "calling" Obama's victory in this morning's "Doonesbury," but not all the cartoonist's 1,400-plus clients were so at ease with a "Doonesbury Defeats Truman" scenario had John McCain won.

Days before the actual win, Trudeau "called" the election for Obama. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

"I figure I can survive a little egg on my face" if I'm wrong, Trudeau told Comic Riffs last week of his "prediction strip." But some newspaper editors weren't prepared to eat humble pie for breakfast this morning if Barack Obama had not emerged victorious.

In Obama's hometown of Chicago, for instance, the Tribune decided not to run the strip on the comics page. "The Tribune will not run the strip as is on the comics page, due to early typesetting of those pages," Tim Bannon, editor of the daily features section Live!, said to Comic Riffs. Bannon did note Tuesday, however: "We are not ruling out the possibility of running the strip with Obama winning elsewhere in the paper, once we know the result."

Some papers, though, cited early deadlines as a reason to run the original strip in the comics. Carole Carmichael at the Seattle Times, for instance, told us that the decision to run the Obama-victory strip was simple and clear cut. "It was already paginated," Carmichael said, and the Times "decided to run it as is, and run a short story explaining that these are done in advance and it was too late to tear up."

So what about in McCain's home state? The Arizona Republic's Marian Frank, who is the Arizona Living editor, told Comic Riffs: "We are running the Wednesday installment."

And then there is this interesting reversal by the Los Angeles Times. Early in the week, Sherry Stern, deputy editor for features, told Comic Riffs that top editors at the Times had decided not to run the prediction strip -- and would instead run the repeat provided by Universal Press Syndicate.

The Times ran a Calendar article, Stern told us, saying that Wednesday's comics would go to press before the polls closed Tuesday night. Times editors originally decided that "in the interest of accuracy, it would be best to wait to see the results of the election." The Times planned to print the original comic a day late if Obama won. If Obama did not win, the paper would print repeats until the week's story line ended.

But subsequently, the newspaper told us, the Times changed its mind after hearing from more than two-dozen readers. A note in Wednesday's paper was to say in part: "As they say in the NFL, upon further review we have reversed our decision. We listened to readers like Ann Calhoun of Los Osos, who wrote: 'Wait. Comic strips now have to be factually accurate? So, this means Rex Morgan is a real doctor, right?' " (Good line, Ms. Calhoun.)

And then there's the heart of Palin Country. "We don't plan to run any Doonesbury on Wednesday," said Matt Zencey, editorial page editor at the Anchorage Daily News.

"It's just too big of a gamble to run a strip that predicts a certain outcome if the go/no-go decision has to be made while the outcome is still in doubt," said Zencey, adding that with an Obama victory, the paper would likely run two "Doonesbury" strips Thursday. UPDATE: The Daily News informed us Thursday that the newspaper used the "Doonesbury" strips as scheduled.

So what would you do, 'Riffs readers, if you were the editor making the call for this morning's "Doonesbury" strip?

By Michael Cavna  | November 5, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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