Cartoonist loses job after image depicting Trump ignoring dead migrants to play golf

Image depicts Trump and staring at dead migrants asking ‘Do you mind if I play through?’ while standing next to golf cart

Alessio Perrone
Monday 01 July 2019 12:12 BST
Donald Trump plays golf with Kid Rock at Trump International Golf Club in Florida

A cartoonist says he has been dropped from a series of newspapers after his image depicting Donald Trump ignoring dead migrants to play golf went viral.

Michael de Adder, a freelance political cartoonist in Canada, says he was let go by all major newspapers in the southeastern Canadian province of New Brunswick after his cartoon was shared by thousands on Twitter and Facebook.

The cartoon shows Trump standing next to a golf cart, club in hand, staring at two migrants who lie face down in the water and asking: “Do you mind if I play through?”

For the image, Mr de Adder drew extensively on the shocking photo of the El Salvadoran father and daughter who were found dead in the waters of the Rio Grande last week, a haunting testimony of the dangers migrants go through when they try to cross the US-Mexican border

In the photograph, which was taken by journalist Julia Le Duc, the two-year-old girl is tucked inside her father’s shirt, with her arm around his neck.

The two had travelled over 1,000 miles to seek asylum in the US, but were denied entry and were kept at a Mexican migrant detention centre.

Critics blasted the Trump administration for introducing border enforcement policies that caused deaths and humanitarian crises at the border.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump blamed Democrats for the number of migrants attempting to cross the border.

On Friday, Me de Adder said on Twitter he had been let go from various employers.

“The highs and lows of cartooning. Today I was just let go from all newspapers in New Brunswick,” he tweeted.

He said major newspapers in New Brunswick, including the Telegraph Journal, The Daily Gleaner and The Times & Transcript all said they would no longer accept his work, but gave no reason for his dismissal.

Some criticised the Irving family, which owns the newspapers and is also involved in the forestry, shipbuilding and energy industries.

“It’s simple really,” Wes Tyrell, the president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists, said in a statement.

“The timing was no coincidence. Michael told me once that not only were the J.D. Irving owned New Brunswick newspapers challenging to work for, but there were a series of taboo subjects he could not touch.

“One of these taboo subjects was Donald Trump. Michael deAdder has drawn many well-documented cartoons on Trump, they have however, systematically never been seen in the NB papers.

“Trade has been an issue since Trump took office, trade that affects the Irvings directly, not to mention a host of other issues. And the president himself is an unknown quantity who punishes those who appear to oppose him.”

Mr Tyrell said that while cartoonists had previously mocked political figures playing golf and showing disdain for humanitarian issues, Mr de Adder’s work hit a nerve by going viral.

Brunswick News Inc, the company that controls the newspapers and is owned by the Irving family, confirmed it dismissed Mr de Adder but denied it did so for the Trump cartoon, calling the allegations a “false narrative” that emerged “carelessly and recklessly” on social media.

“The decision to bring back reader favourite Greg Perry was made long before this cartoon, and negotiations had been ongoing for weeks,” the company said in a statement.

“In fact, BNI was not even offered this cartoon by Mr de Adder.”

“It's a setback, not a deathblow,” Mr de Adder tweeted. “I just need to recoup a percentage of my weekly income and get used to the idea I no longer have a voice in my home province.”

“The New Brunswick News Inc. company is within its proprietary rights to dismiss employees and contributors,” Terry Anderson, the deputy executive director of Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), told The Independent.

“However, cartoonists are undeniably, incrementally and unceasingly disappearing from news media worldwide.”

Mr Anderson says that in North America the change is driven by the newspapers’ need to cut costs as well as by a “satire gap”.

“Cartoonists are perceived (wrongly) to be uniformly liberal,” he says, “and their cartoons about Trump in particular are seen (just as wrongly) as uniquely disrespectful and unwarranted.”

This article was edited on 1 July 2019 to include comments by Brunswick News Inc.

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