“Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams says there’s a familiar storyline behind the spate of repercussions that hit him this weekend after he made comments that some people and businesses, including the Los Angeles Times, considered racist. Adams was abolished by newspapers, his syndicate and his book publisher.
The cartoonist said on his podcast on Monday “Coffee With Scott Adamsthat he was using exaggeration, “exaggeration,” to make a point. He said the stories reporting his comments played a trick:
“The trick is just using my quote and ignoring the context I helpfully added afterwards,” he said. But he said no one would disagree with his two main points, which are “treat all individuals as individuals, no discrimination” and “avoid anything that statistically seems like a bad idea to you personally.” He also disowned racists.
Adams, who said he’s a Democrat who is “Bernie’s left,” used his whiteboard later in the episode to outline how he thinks the cancellation cycle worked in his case.
On last Wednesday his YouTube live stream, he took from the results of a Rasmussen Reports poll that asked if people agreed with the statement “It’s okay to be white.” Of black respondents, 26% disagreed with the statement and 21% said they weren’t sure – a total of 47% didn’t think it was okay to be white.
The seemingly innocuous phrase “It’s okay to be white” was co-opted in 2017 for an online trolling campaign that originated on discussion forum 4chan aimed at luring liberals and the media, the League against defamation said in a statement at the time. The phrase also has a history of use among white supremacists.
“If nearly half of all blacks aren’t okay with whites…then that’s a hate group. And I want nothing to do with it,” Adams said Wednesday. “And based on how things are going, the best advice I can give white people is to steer clear of black people for God’s sake. Just go away. Wherever you need to go, just leave. Because there is no solution for it. This cannot be resolved.”
Adams then spoke of moving to a neighborhood with a low concentration of black people and referred to CNN’s Don Lemon, who is black, who noted in 2013 the difference in the amount of litter between the mostly white and mostly black neighborhoods he had lived in.
“So I think there’s no point in trying to help black citizens as a white citizen of America,” Adams continued. “It does not make any sense. There is no more rational impulse. And so I’m going to stop being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it’s paying off. Like I’ve been doing it all my life and the only result is that I’m called a racist.”
The “Dilbert” strip was dropped by a number of newspapers – including The Times – shortly after Adams made those comments. On Sunday, his syndicate, which supplied “Dilbert” to all outlets that published the strip, dropped him as a customer entirely. And Penguin Random House on Mondays nix appearing of his book ‘Reframe Your Brain’, which was supposed to be released in September.
On Monday’s 76-minute episode of his show, Adams said anyone who knows him would know that he was exaggerating and not commenting verbatim. He agreed that using a solitary poll wasn’t the best way to tackle the larger topic he wanted to talk about.
“I should have been more clear that I was using the poll as, shall we say, an introduction to the topic,” he said on Monday’s show. “You can take the poll out of the story and my point would be the same, but my posts would probably be better.”
Adams said Monday that he would have pronounced the message differently now if he hadn’t spoken off the cuff. Then he proceeded to present again.
“We know that we have a situation in this country where there is evidence of racial discontent,” he said. He pointed to Rasmussen’s recent poll and a Gallup survey from a while back that showed race relations “fell off a cliff” around the time Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012.
That’s when, Adams said, the media discovered that racial hatred stories “really turn people on” and were a way to attract customers and make money.
He also drew attention to social media and corporate-level conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion as influences that sent a message to Black Americans.
“They collectively create a story,” he said, and that story is that people are racist. “There is a segment of the black population that has been poisoned, they have just been poisoned by the story. They are victims,” he added. Victims of ‘programming’.
The problem is that while there is “a lot of good” in conversations about DEI and the like, “if you haven’t factored in its cost, you haven’t completed your analysis.”
The benefits, he says, are clear. “Hey, we’ll treat everyone better, I like that.” But the price is that white Americans are “demonized by the collective forces here” and at least one of the predictable responses should be “to put some distance between people who have been victimized and are therefore armed.”
Adams says he didn’t mean black Americans had literal guns, but rather that some were intellectually programmed by social media and corporate media “to immediately have a racial frame for things that you might not need a racial frame for.” He said white Americans were programmed the same way videos of black people beating up other people go viral.
“Anywhere there are groups of people who have been programmed by the media to have a reflexive bad feeling about you, I would avoid them,” he said.
Adams explained that the cancellation cycle started with “the crime” – the comments he made last week.
“I was canceled everywhere. There will be no more ‘Dilbert’ except on the Locals subscription platform,” he said. “And then what happened? Then the flip kicks in. Because little by little more voices are saying, ‘Wait, why did you cancel it? Okay, I feel like I’m not getting the whole context here.’”
The Los Angeles Times said Saturday it would no longer run Dilbert. “Cartoonist Scott Adams made racist remarks in a YouTube livestream on Feb. 22, offensive comments that The Times denies,” the company said in a statement. “In addition, The Times ran a rerun of the strip four times in the last nine months when the new daily strip did not meet our standards.”
The Times said a replacement comic would be launched soon, adding: “The comic pages should be a place where our readers can engage with social issues, reflect on the human condition and enjoy a few laughs. We intend to continue that tradition in a way that welcomes all readers.”
But Adams sharply criticized the media, especially the Washington Post, for publishing details that he admits are factually true but, in his opinion, frame them in a way that creates a false impression. The Post story – which appears to have been updated since Adams went live on YouTube on Monday – referred to Adams’ comments as “promoting segregation.”
“They introduce the topic by calling it a racist diatribe or a racist diatribe,” Adams said. “If the title of the article says ‘racist tirade’ or ‘racist tirade’, are the media telling you the news? No. That’s the story. That’s an interpretation, that’s it.”
The cartoonist said everyone who canceled on him did so from their “first impression” of the situation. He admitted that what he said was “uncomfortable” and could have been explained better.
Outlets are now reporting that he said all black people are haters, Adams said.
‘Did anyone hear me say that? … So now they’ve made it ‘everything’. Is there a scenario where I’ve ever said that all members of a group have something, one thing in common? Ever? Who would say that except stupid people? This is not even racist,” he said. “That would just be stupid.”