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Life Arts

Obama Wins? Yes, 'Doonesbury' Calls the Election!

By Washington Post Editorial Board  Posted by Stephen Fox (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Networks have long taken flak for calling elections early, but what are newspaper editors to do when a cartoonist "calls" an election several days in advance? That's the controversial question raised by next Wednesday's "Doonesbury," which Pulitzer-winning creator Garry Trudeau has already submitted and which has been sent to editors.

In the strip, Trudeau declares that Barack Obama has won the presidential election. (His syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, says a replacement strip will be made available to newspapers who request it.)

 


Garry Trudeau calls the election for Obama in next Wednesday's "Doonesbury." (Universal Press Syndicate)Enlarge Comic

 

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So what prompted the cartoonist to "call" the outcome of the election? Trudeau tells Comic Riffs today: "If I didn't call the election, I'd have no premise for the week and be forced to write about something else. I didn't want to write about something else. This is history."

Did Trudeau then create the strip with complete and utter confidence that Obama will win? "Nope, more like rational risk assessment," Trudeau explains. "Nate Silver at Fivethirtyeight.com is now giving McCain a 3.7% chance of winning -- pretty comfortable odds. ... Here's the way I look at it: If Obama wins, I'm in the flow and commenting on a phenomenon. If he loses, it'll be a massive upset, and the goofy misprediction of a comic strip will be pretty much lost in the uproar.  I figure I can survive a little egg on my face."

But will the yolk also be on editors who run the strip? Says Trudeau: "We've supplied our clients with a week of reruns, just in case."

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Trudeau adds: "My editor mentioned initial 'panic and anger' from some papers, but she said cooler heads are prevailing today."

Kathie Kerr, the syndicate's vice president for communications, tells Comic Riffs: "So far, there have been about a dozen calls and/or e-mails [from editors], but they are still coming in. ... They are all requesting the substitute strips; some of them haven't made a decision about running them, but they do want access to them."

Kerr adds: "Still, that's not a huge percentage considering the size of Garry 's client list," which is roughly 1,400 newspapers.

NOTE: The Washington Post and WashingtonPost.com plan to publish Trudeau's "prediction" strip.

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