Wiley Miller. Photo: The Spokesman-Review
In that strip, the cartoonist added something that, after being discovered by a reader, he would call “an Easter egg” and it was the flame that lit the fuse of a problem that would end up blowing up in his face.
The hidden message in question, almost indecipherable, turned out to be a direct insult to Donald Trump that more than one found among the rest of the unreadable phrases:
“We fondly say go fuck yourself to Trump“.
We fondly say go fuck yourself to Trump”.
A reader alerted the Buttler Eagle newspaper in Pennsylvania to the hidden message in the cartoon, and the company, which took umbrage, decided to discontinue Miller’ s Sunday cartoons with the stroke of a pen.
The domino effect began. A large number of media outlets that published Miller’s work decided to discontinue his cartoon. Here you can read the story of what happened then.
“A financially and emotionally draining experience”
Half a year later, Wiley Miller has recounted the consequences of that joke, which he admitted to having made after a hot flash after hearing some statements by Donald Trump.
He insists he did not intend for it to be published like that, he forgot to delete the text before sending it.
He apologised again, this time in person to his readers at a “comeback” of his cartoons at the “Northwest Passages Book Club” organised by The Spokeman-Reviev newspaper and held on 5 August at the Bing Crosby Theatre in Spokane, Washington.
Bing Crosby Theatre in Spokane. Photo: Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review.
Miller confessed at this event that when readers discovered the message to Donald Trump in his cartoon, he found himself in the middle of a Twitter storm with most readers praising him. His Twitter followers tripled overnight, so he decided to play along rather than admit he had made a mistake.
“That was the real stupid error of judgement.” “I was really admitting a breach of trust with my editors.”
“Newspapers all over the country refused to continue to publish ‘Non Sequitur. “I lost half my client list.”
Miller recounted that this caused collateral damage, “they lost their dream home and moved to another state after the blow to their reputation and income.” “The experience was financially and emotionally draining,” said Miller, who even admitted to fearing for his relationship with his wife.
Miller then deleted all his social media accounts and sat down to write a personalised letter of apology to each of the newspapers that published his cartoon.
In the letter of apology to the “editors and readers” of The Spokesman-Review, he wrote:
“I apologise to my editors and readers, for breaking trust with you, I owe you a great debt for so many years in which you published the strip and read it. I would also like to assure you that such a breach will never happen again. I intend to work hard to regain your trust”.
Supported by readers
The Spokesman-Review asked readers whether ‘Non Sequitur’ should return to its pages. The response was overwhelming, according to editor Rob Curley. Of the approximately 1,400 readers who responded by email or phone, all but about 40 wanted Wiley Miller’s cartoon back.
Miller then drew a special cartoon for Spokane readers thanking them for their support.
Miller’s pilgrimage of apologies may not be over, but for the moment he has been able to reconcile with his Spokane readers and, slowly, the cartoonist continues to recover the means that dislodged “Non Sequitur” from his pages.
WileyMiller bio in The Spokeman-Review.
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