Postmedia, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail drop Dilbert comic over racist comments

TORONTO — A media backlash against the Dilbert comic strip took hold in Canada on Monday as several of the country's biggest newspapers announced they were dropping the office-set cartoon over recent remarks by its creator.

The Toronto Star published a note in Monday's edition stating the strip will no longer appear in its weekend comic section because “recent racist comments by the cartoonist, Scott Adams, are not in line with the Star's journalistic standards.”

Toronto Star editor Anne Marie Owens said Monday the decision was made over the weekend in conjunction with editors of the Metroland regional dailies, with whom they share a syndication agreement.

The Globe and Mail tweeted Sunday that it decided to drop the comic because of “recent discriminatory comments” by Adams that “do not align with our editorial or business values as an organization.”

Meanwhile, Postmedia, whose brands include several Sun papers across the country, said it decided over the weekend "to discontinue Dilbert effective immediately, for the reasons you’ve seen many other organizations in North America take similar actions."

"We made the decision over the weekend and it was removed from all print editions as of today," Duncan Clark, chief content officer at Postmedia, said by email Monday.

"We also on the weekend instructed our third party provider to remove Dilbert from our digital comics packages as soon as possible. This applies to all Postmedia properties."

Postmedia's flagship paper, The National Post, has not carried the comic in years.

Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn tweeted Monday that his paper, too, will no longer publish Dilbert, "effective immediately."

Several media publishers across the United States have cancelled the strip and denounced Adams for sharing comments last week deemed racist, hateful and discriminatory. Adams' distributor, Andrews McMeel Universal, also dropped him.

On an episode of the YouTube show, "Real Coffee with Scott Adams," Adams, who is white, described people who are Black as members of "a hate group" from which white people should "get away."

On Monday, Adams tweeted that the backlash had widened to include publishing deals that don't involve Dilbert, a long-running comic that pokes fun at office-place culture.

He defended his position while acknowledging a broad mainstream revolt.

This is not the first time Adams has drawn attention for his comments about race.

In May 2022, Adams drew reader complaints when he introduced Dilbert's first Black character, a new engineer named Dave who said he identifies "as white."

"Let's see if the world is ready for this," Adams tweeted May 2, 2022, posting a three-panel colour strip that made light of workplace diversity measures.

On Jan. 27, 2022 he courted controversy by tweeting: "I'm going to self-identify as a Black woman until Biden picks his Supreme Court nominee. I realize it's a long shot, but I don't want to completely take myself out of the conversation for the job."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press