Decision on Merger Pending, Paper Scrubs Meese Cartoons

Associated Press

The Miami Herald said it will not run cartoons of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III while he decides on a newspaper merger proposed by its parent company.

The Herald decided words are better than cartoons in commenting on Meese while he considers the application from the Herald's parent, Knight-Ridder Inc., and Gannett Co. to combine business operations at their Detroit papers.

Jim Hampton, editor of the Herald, said Wednesday he decided not to run Meese drawings by Jim Morin because "a cartoon can't say 'on the other hand.' "

Hampton noted that the Herald has frequently run editorials about Meese and that a July 8 editorial informed readers of the touchy situation. "The discomfiture in which this matter places the Herald is self-evident," he wrote.

Under a proposed agreement, the advertising operations of the Detroit papers--Knight-Ridder's Free Press and Gannett's Detroit News--would merge. News gathering would remain independent.

The decision fell to Meese when the newspaper groups appealed an administrative law judge's refusal to grant the merger. Under the Newspaper Preservation Act, the attorney general has the power to grant antitrust exemptions to failing newspapers.

Free Press Editor Joe Stroud rejected three Meese cartoons by cartoonist Bill Day. Executive Editor Heath Meriwether, formerly of the Herald, later assigned a reporter to explain the situation and published it with the rejected cartoons.

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