Michael de Adder, who has been drawing editorial cartoons for 20 years, was let go from all New Brunswick Inc., (BNI) newspapers after releasing a controversial depiction of U.S. President Donald Trump.
De Adder told Global News he believes the cartoon was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The cartoon shows Trump walking past two dead migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, asking them, “Do you mind if I play through?”
De Adder posted the image on social media on Thursday. The next day, BNI — a chain owned by New Brunswick’s powerful Irving family – informed him he had been let go.
De Adder took to Twitter on Friday to announce that BNI had ended his contract. Since then, the cartoon has reached the likes of George Takei, who called it “heartbreakingly accurate,” and Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, who said the cartoon was “Pulitzer Prize-worthy.”
Every major outlet in Canada and even prominent media organizations in the United States, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times have picked up the story.
Late on Tuesday, BNI attempted to push back against what they call “false information” about their decision to end de Adder’s freelance contract.
The company tweeted out a statement on the Twitter account of their flagship publication, the Telegraph-Journal. The statement insists that its decision was not linked to his cartoon of Trump and that it was related to a decision to bring back another cartoonist.
“To suggest so, or to further fuel this narrative, is disingenuous and entirely false,” the unsigned statement reads.
BNI now says that the decision to cancel de Adder’s contract was made “weeks ago” and that at no time was the cartoonist told that their decision “was anything more than a return of a different freelance cartoonist to the company’s opinion pages.”
The statement also harshly condemns what the company characterizes a “reckless and careless spread of misinformation” regarding de Adder’s dismissal.
“In an era of fake news, further brings home the need for quality local journalism which puts the truth to its readers,” BNI said.
They have since published the statement on the front page of their websites as well as the print editions.
De Adder, who hails from New Brunswick and whose work appeared in BNI papers for 17 years, responded to the new comments in a radio interview with Charles Adler Tonight on Tuesday.
“What newspaper would fire their cartoonist on the day of their biggest cartoon ever? I mean I’ve never heard of that,” said de Adder.
“I’ve never heard of a newspaper firing a cartoonist for being successful, unless that success was a reason.”
With files from Graeme Benjamin and Ross Lord.