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The Washington Post occasionally dropped the strip. Indeed, trying to catch “Doonesbury” on a regular basis lately has been a little frustrating. There are some major papers, like the Los Angeles Times \(which, owns the and the Chicago Tribune, which do not closely monitor the strip, but they seem to be exceptions. In Texas there are no exceptions. The Watergate phobia, according to most editors, was touched off primarily by a panel in which Mark, a caricature of a radical, watches the hearings on television and pronounces John Mitchell “guilty, guilty, guilty.” You’re probably lucky if you saw that one. Managing Editor Ed Hunter of The Houston Post said he likes “Doonesbury” and even likes Gary Trudeau, but he sure didn’t like the Watergate series. “We felt this particular series was rather tasteless” because of “fictionalizing on matters that we think are of such grave concern to the people of this country,” he said. Ken Smart, ME of the Times-Herald, dropped the strip for three days after Mark’s statement, which he said “in effect convicted some people who hadn’t had their day in court.” Trudeau says he was surprised at the adverse editorial reaction. He once said the Watergate series was “intended to be a hyperbolic representation of the euphoria felt by liberal antagonists of theadministration. It was intended to be a satirical response to that kind of hysterical condemnation.” Mark’s glee at Mitchell’s plight was “a parable of the kind of people who take great joy in watching the powerful tumble from high places,” according to the cartoonist. What Trudeau couldn’t understand was why editors took Mark’s “guilty, guilty, guilty” seriously. “I don’t see how they could say that. The expression [on Mark’s face] was so demented.” Trudeau says he has also gotten into 16 The Texas Observer BIG THICKET MUSEUM Saratoga, Texas Open Saturday through Thursday, morning and afternoon. Support Your Big Thicket Association trouble with editors on other subjects, mostly pot and the war. The San Antonio Express-News dropped one sequence on pot usage and, according to managing editor Ken Kennamer, still indulges in “intermittent censoring.” ALL THIS comes down to the question of censorship and the effect it has on an artist. Trudeau is obviously squeezed between saying what he wants with the all-too-real possibility of it getting pitched out or holding some of his punches to keep from riling editors. Editors, on the other hand, have considerable pressure from many places to make sure their papers don’t offend either important individuals or large masses of people, either of which could result in a loss of revenue. But censorship, like pregnancy, is either there or it isn’t. No matter what you call it. “We just made what we thought was an editing decision that we felt was our prerogative,” said the Post’s Hunter. That is the general editorial line. Trudeau agrees up to a point. “I think even censorship is too strong a word to use. I have to respect their right. It is a real problem. I have no intention and very small joy in irritating editors. I want them to print the stuff I do. Every now and then my judgement Houston Two former Houston narcotics agents have charged that the narcotics division uses illegal telephone wiretaps to gather information on suspects. Federal law states that wiretapping “should be allowed only when authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction and should remain under the control and supervision of the authorizing court,” i.e. a federal judge. The narcs, Carlos Avila, 28, and Antonio Zavala, 30, are under a state indictment on charges of selling 79 pounds of marijuana. The allegations were made during negotiations for immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony against other officers, according to their attorneys Phil Greene and Bob Tarrant. Avila and Zavala have two tapes they describe as telephone conversations between narcotics suspects, which they claim were recorded from illegal telephone taps. “Approximately 50 percent of the narcotics arrests are made with the use of illegal telephone tapping . . . and yet the district attorney isn’t interested and the FBI isn’t interested,” Greene said. Greene gave the tapes to assistant Harris County District Attorney Bob Bennett early in July. Green says Bennett told him doesn’t coincide with that of certain others.” Trudeau swears he does not hold back, but says neither does he seek a continual, flat-out editorial war. “I enjoy controversy to the extent it stimulates discussion but not to the point where large numbers of people are upset. I don’t get any joy in that. I’m not communicating if I do.” “Doonesbury” is only a comic strip, after all, and scarcely worthy of an Areopagitica. Nonetheless, a principle is involved, and that is whether a tiny group of individuals may by the power of their position withhold information that they, for whatever reason, think should not be printed and therefore not read by the public. The issue here is not freedom of the press. It is freedom from the press. The use of power in government to suppress information and deceive the opposition is traditional anethema to the press. Why then should suppression be any more defensible when employed by the press itself? There are certainly enough problems with the relevancy and perceptions of newspapers without extending it to the comic page. Comics, after all, are designed to make us smile, sometimes at ourselves. that he had taken the tapes to the proper investigative authorities. Those are the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI. The U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI told Houston Chronicle reporters John Durham and Craig Smyser that they had never received any information from the state district attorney’s office on wiretapping. State, county and city authorities deny they use illegal wiretaps in the pursuit of drug offenders. The Chronk’s city editor, Zarko Franks had an article by John Durham and Craig Smyser on Avila and Zavala’s allegations dummied up for the front page of the Sunday, Aug. 26 Chronicle with an accompanying sidebar on felony theft within the narcotics and vice squads. Editor Everett Collier ordered the sidebar killed and the article buried. It appeared on page eight section four of the Sunday Chronicle, effectively buried. “What we have now is evidence of the use of illegal wiretapping in many past and pending cases,” Greene said. “We will take them on a case by case basis. Pending cases we’ll wait and see if the district attorney will try those in which illegal tapping was involved or whether he will dismiss them. They are now in a holding pattern, postponing trial dates, waiting to see what happens.” Karen Northcott Narcs using taps?